It was weird. But when the sun rose on Oct. 16, Comox Valley voters had made it clear they liked the direction charted by our local governments. In the municipalities, they elected all but two incumbents. In most races, the vote was a definite pat on the back for a job well done.
Anonymous Old Guard political action groups in the Comox Valley have been trying to elect cohesive voting blocks for decades
THE WEEK: Busting the myth that council members come with a blank slate
Some people made a big fuss during last fall’s by-election for an open seat on the Comox Town Council when a group calling themselves the “Comox Greens” formed to support candidate Dr. Jonathan Kerr, who won by a comfortable margin.
That group is no longer active, but what got folks all riled up was the idea that provincial party ideologies might weave their way into municipal government business.
Chief among the critics was Brennan Day, who had just run unsuccessfully for the BC Legislature as the BC Liberal Party nominee. Day, who doesn’t live in Courtenay and had been previously rejected by Courtenay voters for a council position, explained his concerns in a letter to the editor during the by-election.
Voters, he said, would “no longer … be electing representatives on their individual merits … A cohesive voting block does not need to worry about pesky little things like debate and compromise, it has the ability to circumvent those who disagree and push forward with a single agenda.”
But hasn’t the right-wing, pro-development faction of the Comox Valley political scene – that would naturally support Day – been trying to create that “cohesive voting block” for over a decade?
In 2014, they called themselves Comox Valley Common Sense. In 2018, they called themselves the Comox Valley Taxpayers Alliance. In 2022, they are calling themselves Comox Valley Mainstream. And this year there’s a new more extreme group calling themselves Take Back Comox Valley.
The objective of these groups has always been to elect a majority of council members who will vote together to further their outworn ambitions. And once again, they are supporting the effort to unseat incumbents who they perceive as being too progressive.
So, groups of citizens banding together to affect local government elections is nothing new.
Be that as it may, let’s get real and dispel this notion that any candidate for municipal government can and should come to office with no partialty, predilections or preconceived notions. If a candidate says that, they are lying to you.
No one who seeks public office is without preference for a federal or provincial political party, or is without values that run closer to one party than the others. It’s just a fact. People who are motivated to run for local government usually have strong opinions about the issues of the day and believe that their ideas about how to address them are the best.
Voters know that. They just want candidates to be transparent about those opinions and values so they can choose wisely on Election Day.
It’s unrealistic to expect that public officials can simply erase their life experiences and their personal values and philosophies when they walk through the council room door. They are who they are, and their decisions and council voting records will reflect that.
But that doesn’t mean that former BC Liberal Party MLA Don McRae checked in with the party executive before taking a position when he served seven years on Courtenay council. Of course not. But his values and political perspective led him on a journey to become the Minister of Education under former premier Christy Clark.
The same would have been true for NDP MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard who also sat on Courtenay Council for many years. And consider that former Comox council member Paul Ives who sought the BC Liberal Party nomination in 2016 while still serving as mayor.
It’s laughable to think that MLA Leonard’s perspectives and approach to local issues didn’t more closely resemble the NDP’s values than the BC Liberal Party’s values. And vice versa for McRae.
The same would be true for Brennan Day. That’s why you will see more Day campaign signs in the conservative Crown Isle subdivision than you will in the more liberal Puntledge Park neighborhood.
What Dr. Kerr tried to do in last year’s by-election was to put his political leanings and values out front for everyone to see. Total transparency. That way, if people shared those values, they could see he might be a good representative for them. And if not, they could vote for someone else.
We wish this year’s candidates and political action groups would be as honest.
WHERE AND WHEN TO VOTE
General Voting Day is Saturday, Oct. 15 for all local government positions.
Comox Valley Regional District
General Voting Day and advance voting take place at the CVRD building in Courtenay from 8 am to 8 pm.
Go to this link for General Voting Day locations in the three Electoral Areas.
Additional voting takes place on Oct. 6 from 9 am to 12 pm on Denman Island and on Oct. 6 from 2 pm to 5 pm on Hornby Island
Advance Voting begins on Wednesday October 5, 2022, 8 am to 8 pm at the Native Sons Hall, and again on Wednesday October 12, 2022, 8 am to 8 pm at the Florence Filberg Centre.
General Voting Day, Saturday, October 15, 2022, 8 am to 8 pm at the Queneesh Elementary School, and at the Florence Filberg Centre.
Advance voting begins Wednesday, October 5 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. at the Comox Community Centre, and on Saturday, October 8 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Genoa Sail Building at Comox Marina, and again on Monday, October 10 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Genoa Sail Building at Comox Marina, and on Wednesday, October 12 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. at the Comox Community Centre.
General Voting Day runs from 8 am to 8 pm on Oct. 15 at the Comox Community Centre.
All voting in the Village of Cumberland takes place from 8 am to 8 pm at the Cumberland Cultural Centre. Advance voting takes place on Oct. 5 and Oct. 12.
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Mayor Bob Wells and all Courtenay incumbent councillors have been re-elected. Evan Jolicoeur has also been elected. Manno Theos has lost his seat.
Jonathan Kerr, Jenn Meilleur, Steve Blacklock, Chris Haslett, Ken Grant and Maureen Swift have been elected in Comox.
Vickey Brown has been elected mayor in Cumberland, defeating long-time mayor and councillor Leslie Baird.
Voting down -20.6% in Courtenay, -22.3% in Comox and -50.9% in Cumberland.
Full results with Electoral Areas A, B and C, school board and Islands Trust results in the morning.
Daniel Arbour in Area A and Edwin Grieve in Area C won by wide margins. Richard Hardy defeated Arzeena Hamir by 23 votes.
Shannon Aldinger topped the polls in races for SD71 school trustees.
Click the headline on this page for complete results and voter turnout.
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