Bob Forrest has found his champion.

Real estate salesperson, Wasim Jarrah, is an enthusiastic advocate for the controversial seven storey development in the heart of Newmarket’s heritage conservation district. Throwing caution to the wind, he has just decided to run for the Ward 5 vacancy.

Jarrah told the Era newspaper on 19 April 2016:

“Main needs to be revitalized; that’s the main thing. From a real estate, business and economics standpoint, people need to come to Main and live on it to attract and retain businesses in the area. This will bring in that much needed customer base. Rentals are much needed. Newmarket does not have much vacant land to build on and the only way to redevelop is vertical.”

Jarrah was down to speak in favour of Forrest’s proposal at the Statutory Public meeting on 9 May 2016 but, without any explanation or apology, didn't show up.

The petition against the Forrest plan, promoted by Margaret Davis, won the backing of 1,213 people – the vast majority Newmarket residents. The petition called on the Council to respect its own planning policies and stick to the mandated three storey height cap that applies in the heritage conservation district. It was a powerful statement of opposition.

By contrast, Jill Kellie’s petition backing the development languished far behind with 222 supporters.

Jarrah chose not to post a comment.

He will now have plenty of opportunities to explain his position to an overwhelmingly sceptical public.

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Update at 18.15: Tracee Chambers becomes the seventh candidate to join the race.

Update on 5 August 2016: Bob Kwapis' website is now up and running.

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