Mayoral challenger gives rambling, erratic interview

The lone challenger in the city's mayoral race lives in a VLA-area apartment building, survives on $1,800 a month and describes himself as a "radical, non-conformist thinking coach."

That much we do know about Willy Ens. Well that, and when it comes to fielding questions in an interview, he can be all over the map.

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Ens opened a phone call to The Citizen on Monday by saying he's at a food bank and launched into a rambling anecdote about talking to a recruiter at College of New Caledonia.

It might make an interesting story for the newspaper, he added. When I said I'm more interested in a story on the fact he's running for mayor, Ens sounded upset.

"You're not interested in the local news, eh?" he replied in a gravely voice of what sounded like an elderly man.

"Well, that's pretty local news," I replied in reference to his bid for top spot on city council.

Ens segued into a vague reference.

"Well hey, like I say, the way this is going and at the rate this is playing, it reminds me of being on the Charlottes and under the Charlotte agreement as they called it," he said. "And that was that dogs still chase cats and everybody walked."

I interrupted to ask if he intends to see this campaign out to its end. He does.

"Oh yeah, no, no, no, this is a job application," he said. "Our mayor, he's got a real race happening here."

Ens said he's running because he's proud of Prince George and wants to see the city "held together."

He accused mayor Lyn Hall, who is seeking a second term, of being "bound and determined to demolish everything and reconstruct it," in apparent reference to the Four Seasons Pool. "Hell, I was here since the building of it. None of you guys have been here that long. I was here since '69."

I raised an item he referred to in a series of messages he had sent to me through social media on Sunday - the mayor's salary. Ens said he's living on an old age pension of $1,800 a month reduced from $2,300 a month "and nobody's telling me why."

Ens went on to say the mayor makes more in "bonus" than he will in a year. Starting January 1, the city's mayor will earn $127,889 in remuneration, a jump of $29,063.

But Ens would not reduce the salary if elected.

"Why would I?" he said. "I'm bringing real credentials to this. He has no idea on construction, obviously. He's tearing everything down."

"That pool? That's ridiculous tearing that down. That thing survived an earthquake, do you realize we had an earthquake in Prince George."

When I replied that if we did, it wasn't very big, I was soon corrected and told we had one in 1986, the year after his son was born.

"This sounds like I'm trying to coach you in reporting," he added.

I asked him what kind of experience he had in construction. Ens said he has 34 years as a class A gas fitter and the "methanol plant ran under my ticket" until there was a change in bureaucratic jurisdiction.

He went on to say it was the methanol plant in Kitimat, was built under Ocelot Industries Ltd. and that he was the liaison between the "gas branch" and the "City of Kitimat" and Ocelot Industries.

But he could not remember the specific name of the plant, which left me in some disbelief. He replied that this was back in the 1980s and added: "What do you remember from 30 years ago?"

When I replied that I'd remember who I worked for, Ens laughed and said "yeah, well jobs might've been few and far between if you were getting them on this rate."

"Anyway buddy, this is ridiculous. I'm done," Ens said and hung up as I tried to find out how old he is.

With the help of two nominees with addresses at a downtown hostel, Ens submitted his nomination papers on Friday, just hours before the 4 p.m. deadline. Candidacies remain subject to challenge until Tuesday at 4 p.m. and the deadline for withdrawal is Friday at 4 p.m.

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