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.
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Local candidates clam up rather than speak to Comox Valley voters in public
Alert! Call in the mental health professionals at once! The Comox Valley is experiencing a severe outbreak of Glossophobia among the candidates in this year’s local government elections. And strangely, it appears to have infected only the conservative, old-guard, pro-development and wacky candidates.
Apparently, being a progressively-minded incumbent or challenger gives you natural immunity.
Glossophobics, as I’m sure you already know, have a fear of public speaking. And what other possible explanation could the conservative, old-guard, pro-development and wacky candidates have for avoiding almost every opportunity to answer questions in a public setting?
Assuredly, this is an odd situation. Politicians in general, and especially those on the fringes, normally drool over any chance to speak in public and drown their audiences in a stream of non-sequiturs.
But this year, a specific group of candidates has refused to participate in normally sedate all-candidates forums. They are mostly those endorsed by the conservative, old-guard, pro-development and wacky organization that imagines itself in the “mainstream” of Comox Valley ideology. And that’s a delusionary state in itself.
For Courtenay City Council, there were only two all-candidates forums and just one for the Comox Town Council. Electoral area candidates were invited to both.
So, other than a sudden onset of Glossophobia, we can’t think of any reason why Brennan Day, Deana Simkin, Mano Theos, Michael Gilbert, Starr Winchester, Phil Adams and Lyndsey Northcott didn’t show up for the Courtenay forum on Oct. 7.
Okay, Theos was on vacation in Greece and Adams was on a honeymoon trip, so they are just bad at scheduling.
But some of the same bunch didn’t show up at the North Island College Oct. 4 forum either.
Glossophobia infections went off the charts on the peninsula. Comox candidates had only one forum on Oct. 7 to make their pitch up close and personal with voters. But Peter Gibson, Ken Grant, Maureen Swift, Steve Blacklock and Chris Haslett blew it off anyway.
Even Tamara Meggitt in Area A caught the bug, as did Richard Hardy, who is running in Area B but actually lives in the heart of Comox. Both were no-shows at the Comox event.
When you look at this list of candidates who refused to participate there is an obvious common thread. They are the conservative, old-guard, pro-development and wacky candidates.
And when we say ‘wacky,’ we mean candidates like Erik Eriksson, who showed up for the NIC climate-focused forum but didn’t join his colleagues on stage. Bizarrely, Eriksson sat in the front row and watched. Hey, Erik, a great display of mayoral leadership qualities.
Or, wacky like Area C candidate Matthew Ellis who has been laying low since the social media hounds found that photo of him standing in front of a confederate flag wearing a Trump Make America Great Again hat and holding both a shotgun and a bottle of Tennessee whiskey.
Maybe it’s a joke. But if you’re seeking public office and you leave that photo online, in my book you’re wacky. And if it wasn’t a joke, you are definitely wacky because you’re in Canada, dude.
So, all kidding aside, by refusing to spontaneously answer questions from the public, these candidates are usurping the democratic process. It’s the equivalent of Taking The Fifth Amendment (we know, American reference, but a good analogy) because they don’t want to incriminate themselves.
What could possibly happen by having the courage to stand up and defend your beliefs? Well, you might slip up and expose your truth, and that could cost you votes.
It’s a sad commentary on the state of election campaigning in the Comox Valley when candidates of similar ideology refuse to engage with those they want to represent. Just imagine how unresponsive they’ll be if you elect them.
These people hope to get elected by default, getting throw-away votes from people who just picked a name without really knowing the candidate. Dash that hope. Please.
WHERE WERE GRANT AND BLACKLOCK?
We know that Courtenay candidate Phil Adams was on a honeymoon, but what important business did Comox Council candidate Ken Grant have that kept him from the all-candidates forum last Friday afternoon? Well, readers report that he was sunning himself on the lawn of Milanos coffee shop just as the meeting was getting underway at the K’omoks Band Hall.
Meanwhile, Comox candidate Steve Blacklock took a different route. He didn’t go to the All-Candidates cafe-style forum Friday night either, but he sent a proxy with a phone.
Voters at one of the Comox tables (candidates rotated among small groups to answer questions in more intimate settings) noticed a young woman texting who had introduced herself as a friend of Blacklock. She then read from her phone a text that she said Blacklock was sending her. The people at the table advised her that because Blacklock didn’t show up, it was inappropriate for her to speak on his behalf and that she should leave. Which she did.
Is this what some people think passes for meaningful public discourse these days?
Kudos to the candidates who had the decency to show up at last week’s public forums. That includes Comox Mayor-Elect Nicole Minions, who will be acclaimed, but showed up anyway to pay respect to the organizers and the tax-paying public.
KEN GRANT STILL MISLEADING VOTERS
This story was sent to us by a reader with access to questions sent via email to Comox Council incumbent Ken Grant. They asked:
“The urban forest is essential in making Comox the beautiful place it is and prevents overheating in heat domes or any time of excessive heat and helps regulates water flows (prevent flooding). What will you include in a ‘Tree Bylaw’ to ensure that the benefits of trees and other natural environments are maintained in Comox?”
To which Grant answered:
“We have a robust tree bylaw in Comox. We just increased the amount trees to be preserved on development from 25% retention to 30% retention. We have purchased Bay brook park a few years ago and are preserving the trees on it as well as with all of our parks (unless trees become dangerous). The tree canopy is one of the things that make Comox stand out as a livable community.”
But what Grant didn’t say was that he voted against the tree retention policy.
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.
Advance Voting continues 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 continues today 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. The next Advance voting takes place on 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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