Municipal elections traditionally don’t attract large numbers of residents to the polls.
But having two experienced councillors go head-to-head for the mayor’s chair, however, should make residents stand up and take part in the process, one of those candidates anticipates.
“I think that’s going to really push people to the polls,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite on the eve of the 2011 campaign kickoff. “It’s important for people to get out there and let their opinions be known.”
With residents looking at their first real mayoral race in years – outgoing Mayor Christopher Causton saw acclamation three times and beat his lone opponent by taking 92 per cent of the vote in 2008 – Braithwaite predicted a turnout of between 50 and 60 per cent. Comparitively speaking, the 2008 vote saw a turnout of 35.8 per cent.
With Friday (Oct. 14) the final day for nomination papers to be filed at the municipal hall in advance of the Nov. 19 election, Braithwaite and Coun. Nils Jensen officially begin their campaigns tomorrow to replace Causton.
Given the state of issues such as sewage treatment and the fragile economy, candidates’ experience level will be an important consideration for voters, Jensen said.
“There’s going to have to be some tough decisions made at budget time at the Oak Bay level, and some very hard decisions at the regional level, particularly now that we see the sewage project in turmoil,” he said. “The new mayor and council will have to be up and running very quickly.”
Change will be inevitable once Oak Bay’s new council is sworn in. A new mayor and at least three new councillors will be elected.
That scenario, with so many new faces, is not unusual for Jensen. In 1996, when Causton was first elected mayor, Jensen and two other councillors were voted in for the first time.
“But we had no pressing issues then,” he said.
Besides the mayoral candidates, as of Wednesday nine individuals had declared their intention to run for one of six spots as councillors. Those nine include incumbents John Herbert, Pam Copley and Tara Ney.
The latest to declare are Community Association of Oak Bay executive member Michelle Kirby, who also ran in 2008; Gregory Hartnell, a many-time candidate in the City of Victoria, Colleen Kirkpatrick and former City of Victoria council candidate Susan Woods.
Braithwaite said residents will be looking for the people who best show a desire to work for the community, have positive values and a good record of community service.
As a municipal politician since 2005, she said “it’s all about the character, the ability to work well together and build consensus on major issues.”
Among the key issues she sees coming to forefront during the campaign are the legalization of secondary suites and revision to the official community plan, the review of bylaws for such things as house size limits, and addressing sewer replacements, both in the Uplands and regionwide.
Mark your calendar
All-candidates meetings are set for Nov. 4 at Monterey Centre, 1442 Monterey Ave., and Nov. 8 at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 2121 Cedar Hill Cross Rd.
Both meetings are scheduled to run from 7 to 9 p.m.
Who’s on the list?
Candidates who have either filed their nomination papers or declared their intention to run in Oak Bay:
• Hazel Braithwaite
• Nils Jensen
• Corey Burger
• Pam Copley (i)
• Cairine Green
• Gregory Hartnell
• John Herbert (i)
• Michelle Kirby
• Colleen Kirkpatrick
• Kevin Murdoch
• Tara Ney (i)
• Susan Woods
i = incumbent