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Harris steps away from mayor's race

'I love this city and will still put my best foot forward to serve behind the scenes and will, of course, complete my role as Ward 6 city councillor,' says Natalie Harris
2021-10-29 Natalie Harris 5
Natalie Harris

Natalie Harris says she no longer wants to be Barrie’s next mayor.

Harris, the city’s Ward 6 councillor, withdrew from the race Tuesday.

“After much consideration and discussions with family and friends, I have decided to remove my name from the mayoral race in Barrie,” she said in a statement. “I love this city and will still put my best foot forward to serve behind the scenes and will, of course, complete my role as Ward 6 city councillor.

“I wish all the candidates the best of luck. I have much respect for anyone who puts their name into a political race to serve their community. It is not an easy task,” she said. “To the women looking to run for political positions, keep your head high, and stay true to your morals and values. You will be tested in many ways. But always stay true to yourself. Never sacrifice integrity, ever.”

Harris also confirmed she will not seek re-election as a city councillor. 

Her withdrawal leaves Alex Nuttall and Rob Haverson in the mayor’s race.

Incumbent Jeff Lehman, who remains Barrie’s mayor but has taken a leave of absence, is running for the Liberals in the riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte in the June 2 provincial election.

This is the second change of political plans for Harris.

Asked last fall by BarrieToday if she was running for re-election in 2022, and why or why not, by BarrieToday, Harris said no.

“I will not be running again,” Harris said at that time. ‘I hoped that being a city councillor would have allowed me the opportunity to change policy and improve our city on a grand scale, but politics is slow... too slow for me.

“I have found that the connections I have made, and already had, will allow me to do the same over the years, without being part of city council,” she added.

Then, on Jan. 31, Harris announced at a city council meeting that she was running for mayor.

“I just wanted to share a quick announcement that after some long conversations with my family and friends, and considering whether or not I feel like my role on city council is done, and I had mentioned that I was not going to be running again, I just want to share that I will be running for mayor in the next term, and I’ll leave it at that,” she said at the time.

Harris was asked by BarrieToday for further comment.

“I am not done contributing to our community, and I feel my voice for our city would have more strength in the role of mayor,” she said.

The municipal election for the next mayor, 10 ward councillors and school trustees is Oct. 24.

Harris was first elected to Barrie city council in 2018.