James Alexander Stuart, son of former mayor Bob Stuart and wife Florence, was born on December 15, 1951 and came to Ladysmith with his parents from the Three Rivers area of Quebec in 1964. As a youngster he was involved in the Ladysmith Air Cadets and in 1970 went to Great Britain on a Youth Exchange Program.
Alex obtained a diploma in Social Work and was employed by the Island Youth Centre and later worked as a Community Development Worker in Burns Lake, BC. He left the field of Social Work in 1976 and on his return to Ladysmith, worked as a painter and millworker.
Alex first entered municipal politics in November, 1983 winning an aldermanic seat on his first try. He credited his strong majority as well as the defeat of incumbent John Wilson to the fact that “people wanted to see a change, at least in terms of more open representation.” One of his priorities was the return of the Oyster Cove condominium property to municipal ownership. When asked about pet projects for the next two years, he said “retrieving the waterfront properties and developing it as overnight tourist accommodation would be at the top of his list. He believed job creation, solving the district’s water problems, implementing the harbor plan and increasing the town’s tax base should be council’s goals. As an alderman he initiated the Downtown Revitalization Committee in 1984 believing tourism was the way to go for the town. On July 12 of that year he took appropriate action to retrieve waterfront properties south of Transfer Beach. He was a firm believer in the use of referendums. In 1985, the new Mayor was named chairman of a committee to study the viability of a ferry route between Gabriola Island and Vancouver. One of the main reasons he got involved was due to the economic benefits for Ladysmith which could be taken advantage of if the new route became a reality.
In 1986 Alex indicated that his record over the last two years on local issues such as harbor development, the sewage treatment plant and the Saltair Waterworks settlement along with regional matters such as the Island Highway and the mayors’ economic strategy for Vancouver Island illustrated his commitment and ability, particularly at dealing with senior levels of government. By this time Alex was still only 34 years of age.
Alex was first married to Jean and they had three girls, Alexandrea (married to Dave), Sarah and Karee-Ann. He later married Kathy.
Also in 1986, Alex, a long time member of the NDP announced his candidacy for the Social Credit Party nomination for the Nanaimo dual riding in the upcoming provincial election. This proved to be a major disappointment for him as he was unable to win either available seat for the Nanaimo Ladysmith riding finishing behind Social Credit running mate Doug McBride and faring no better than fourth in the Ladysmith polls in the election which swept Bill Vander Zalm into power. Many felt the campaign strategy for McBride and Stuart to avoid controversy and depend on Vander Zalm’s personal appeal was a real blunder contributing to Stuarts loss. He was an excellent candidate for the Socreds, a local high profile politician and excellent public speaker.
In October, 1988, Alex Stuart confirmed that he would not seek reelection for a third term. In the November 19th municipal election that year the successful candidate for mayor was newspaperman, Rollie Rose who won over the other remaining candidate, Wolf Raabe.