Coun. Nathan Colquhoun has no regrets about wearing a tank top and straw fedora to a recent city council meeting, but says he won’t do it again.
He also says he intends to run for mayor this fall, but hasn’t yet filed the paperwork.
Colquhoun said the June 27th tank-top stunt was done to make a point to Coun. Bill Dennis, who had proposed a dress code of “professional business attire” at council meetings.
Dennis argued that how councillors dress reflects their level of respect for staff and delegations. His proposal was defeated.
Colquhoun said later he’s certain the dress code was directed at him because he’d worn a pair of shorts to an earlier meeting and has had a number of conflicts with Dennis this term.
Colquhoun said it rankled him because what should be important at City Hall are ideas and values, not what someone wears.
Dennis said that people in leadership roles projecting a professional appearance is “just common sense.”
“We are all responsible for the business of the city and as such these are business meetings, and therefore business attire should not shock anyone,” Dennis said.
Colquhoun told The Journal what shocks him is the media coverage his tank top received. Stories appeared in newspapers and radio programs across the country.
“This whole thing plays into the narrative between Bill and I. We come from two very different worlds,” Colquhoun said.
“He is more of a man of old-school respectability and I am more grassroots.”
During the June 27 council meeting, Dennis asked Colquhoun if he would attend a job interview in a tank top. Colquhoun, a partner in five Sarnia-based businesses, said he would.
“I’m really proud of so much that we’re doing on council. I think we’re really doing some amazing stuff,” he said after the meeting.
“All of this is just a distraction and everyone wants to talk about real issues, like helping small business, the waterfront plan and active transportation,” he said. “It’s so absurd to make it about us and not the city.”
Colquhoun, 37, is completing his first term on council. He said he believe he could be more effective as mayor, and intends to go after the job Mike Bradley has held for 34 years.
“I don’t really know what the appetite for my style will be,” he confessed. “But I don’t want to be a councillor again, so I don’t really mind risking my council position.
“I think Sarnia is ready for something different. The mayor sets the narrative and the tone for the city and that’s not something I can do as a councillor.”
Colquhoun said he values Dennis’ perspective on council and wasn’t trying to be derogatory.
“I think he sees the potential of Sarnia and wants good things to happen. I appreciate that about Bill.”
Mayor Mike Bradley historically waits until the filing deadline nears before declaring his candidacy.
When contacted by The Journal, Bradley said he would make an announcement either way by the Aug. 19 deadline.