Perceived politicking by community association irks residents

Community group accused of taking sides in election

Candidate endorsements are a regular part of any election.

But when Oak Bay resident Dennis McCarthy perceived the Community Association of Oak Bay was endorsing mayoral candidate Nils Jensen, he was upset.

“The big concern is that the association should be totally neutral and they don’t seem to be doing that. They should be totally non-partisan,” McCarthy said.

Other residents have contacted the News to express concern about the perceived conflict.

Two weeks ago Tom Croft, president of the association, sent out an email invitation for people to attend Jensen’s campaign launch, which happened Oct. 22. Croft signed it using his title.

“What some of us are upset about is the community association asks for money” from the municipality, McCarthy said. Because of that fact, the association should not support any one candidate, or a group of candidates, he said.

Croft said the community association does not support “any candidate.”

“We would do the same for anybody who was holding a community event,” he said.

“It just seemed like a natural thing. We were asked to invite people. I don’t think we overstepped any bounds.

“I think this is mudslinging and we’re just going to duck.”

The Community Association of Oak Bay received $1,000 in municipal funding for its operations this year.

In a separate interview, Jensen said he was not aware of any controversy surrounding community associations supporting specific candidates. Such an action would be inappropriate, he said, but noted that individuals from such groups are free to support whomever they wish.

Croft said the community association will no longer distribute candidates’ promotional materials.

“We just thought we were providing a community service, which we would have done for any candidate,” he said. “But now that someone’s fussed about it, we won’t be doing that anymore. It’s just too risky.”

ecardone@vicnews.com