Saanichites opt to run for Victoria city council

Saanich residents Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Marianne Alto and John Turner are all running in Victoria.

Three Saanichites running for council won’t be listed on your ballot when you vote Nov. 19. That’s because Saanich residents Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Marianne Alto and John Turner are all running in Victoria.

All three say the issues that interest them most can be best addressed by working in the city.

“I want to serve the community and deal with certain issues. One of the issues is homelessness, and mental illness and addiction. And issues of heritage, particularly Chinatown,” said Thornton-Joe, first elected to Victoria council in 2002. “Being born and raised here, I don’t see the municipal lines. … But for the timebeing there’s work I want to continue doing in the City of Victoria.”

Turner says his 15-year background working as a street counsellor and community support worker is better suited to downtown Victoria than suburban Saanich.

“There’s a lot of homeless stuff that I’ve been dealing with for many years – social poverty and acute poverty, the need for community job creation. And Victoria really is where I can contribute my talents and abilities,” he said.

Alto, first elected to council in a November 2010 by-election, says it shouldn’t matter which municipality you live in.

“What you do when you look for elected representatives is you look for people who have skills and experience, and the commitment to resolve the issues in your community. That’s what I do – I say ‘I’m me, here’s my experience, here’s what I think I can do for the community,'” she said.

Both Thornton-Joe and Alto say they’ve heard in previous campaigns from people who question why they should vote for someone who doesn’t live in their city.

“As the conversation around regionalization, not amalgamation, becomes more commonplace – issues like transportation, policing, emergency preparedness –these issues can benefit from good regional plans. They’re not just specific to Saanich or just specific to Victoria,” Alto said.

Thornton-Joe says she’s contemplated moving from Saanich to Victoria, but it’s difficult to find a place that’s as affordable and that provides enough yard space for her large dog.

“Where I live shouldn’t matter. What’s important is listening to concerns of people, and being able to find solutions that address those concerns,” she said.

There are no restrictions in the Local Government Act on running for a seat in a municipality in which you do not live.

kslavin@saanichnews.com