Nils Jensen has had the same election signs for 15 years. But for the Nov. 19 municipal election the Oak Bay councillor will order some new ones.
“They’ll say ‘Elect Nils Jensen for mayor.’”
Jensen, 62, announced his candidacy for mayor this week, making him the second councillor vying to take over from outgoing Mayor Christopher Causton. Hazel Braithwaite declared her intention to seek the mayor’s chair in July.
With Jensen and Braithwaite giving up their councillor positions, and the death of Coun. Allan Cassidy this summer, Oak Bay council will see at least three new faces this year.
The three other council members, Tara Ney, John Herbert and Pam Copley, have indicated they will run again. As of Monday, only one newcomer, Kevin Murdoch, had declared intentions to run for council. Candidates may submit their nomination forms as of Oct. 4. The deadline is Oct. 14 to submit forms for council and mayoralty seats.
All candidates will face challenging times, Jensen said.
“We will likely see a large deficit at the provincial level and no doubt there will be a trickle-down effect to the municipality,” he said. “We’ll see money cut back from the provincial government and we … will need to be careful and diligent with our budget over the next few years.”
His top three concerns for Oak Bay are determining how it will pay its share of the new regional sewage system, how to include residents in decision-making processes and drafting a new official community plan.
Jensen is an avid cyclist who has lobbied for more bike lanes in Oak Bay, as well as better sidewalks. Lobbying for those improvements may be difficult in tough economic times, he admits, but says “politics is the art of compromise.”
Those decisions could be aided by community advisory committees.
“In the next couple of years we’re going to have tough choices, like ‘do we do a bike lane or (install) playground equipment?’ I think it’s possible to have the community take part in setting those priorities.”
The Jensen file
• Danish immigrant lived in Montreal and Ottawa, studied law in Toronto. Articled and practised criminal law in Vancouver.
• He and wife, Jean Thomson, have two sons, Stewart, 19; Nicholas, 25.
• Jensen was first elected to Oak Bay council in 1996.
• Currently a Crown prosecutor and sessional instructor at UVic.