They may be more than four months away, but municipal elections are fast approaching in the Capital Region.
Former MLA and Saanich councillor David Cubberley’s announcement earlier this month that he will challenge longtime incumbent Frank Leonard for mayor in Saanich this fall kicked things off a bit earlier than usual. And potential candidates in many local municipalities are beginning to weigh their options.
Oak Bay will have a new mayor when the dust settles.
Christopher Causton, who unsuccessfully ran for federal office in May, declared last year that he would not seek re-election, after holding the position since 1996.
Already, at least one member of Oak Bay council is kicking the tires of the mayor’s chair.
“I’ve been approached by a lot of people, so I’m definitely considering it,” said two-term councillor Hazel Braithwaite.
She has yet to make a final decision, but said her resumé qualifies her to throw her hat in the ring.
“It’s a hard decision, but you really need someone who has some experience on council,” she said.
“To come out and run for mayor without having been on council would be really hard, I think.”
Among the key issues for Braithwaite are revising Oak Bay’s official community plan and reviewing some of the municipality’s bylaws.
John Herbert, first elected to council in 1999, said he will “likely” seek re-election, but has no designs on the top job.
“I don’t think I really have time to be mayor,” he said, adding with a laugh, “according to my wife, I certainly don’t have the time.”
Herbert cited his work on the municipality’s sewage treatment committee as a key piece of unfinished business motivating him to run again.
Council’s most junior member is also eager to return.
“I’ve learned the ropes in the first term and am confident I can make some useful contributions in a second term,” said Tara Ney, who was first elected in 2008.
Ney’s top priority next term is to begin and complete the official community plan.
“In many instan-ces, we’ve been making piecemeal decisions where common values are colliding,” she said.
“It’s time to sit down again as a community and have the conversation about what is important to us and how this will look in our community.”
Ney added she does not plan to run for mayor.
Coun. Allan Cassidy, who has served five terms on council, said it’s still too early to decide whether he’ll be on the ballot in November.
“It’s not an easy choice,” he said.
“I have to see what I have going on before I make a decision.”
Cassidy added that just because Saanich is already abuzz with election talk, the same scenario isn’t happening in Oak Bay.
“Some of the other municipalities, they like the exposure, they like the excitement,” he said. “I think Oak Bay is a little calmer about it.”
The intentions of the remaining two Oak Bay councillors, Pam Copley and Nils Jensen, were unknown at press time.