This list of candidates is anything but ‘mainstream;’ why running ‘out of town’ feels icky

This list of candidates is anything but ‘mainstream;’ why running ‘out of town’ feels icky

Voters can cast ballots as early as Wednesday, Oct. 5 in the 2022 local government elections. Complete voting info below

This list of candidates is anything but ‘mainstream;’ why running ‘out of town’ feels icky


For the last six years, readers have known us as As of last Friday, we moved to a new Internet address, We went from ‘net’ to ‘ca’ and we also moved our business to a local web design firm, Milan Web.



Stop the presses! The Comox Valley Mainstream group – we hesitate to use that word ‘group’ because we think CVM is just Dick Clancy, Murray Presley and a couple of other guys – gave us their list of endorsed candidates over the weekend.

Has your whole family been holding their collective breath and sitting on the edge of their seats with their legs and arms and fingers double crossed waiting for this announcement? No? Neither were we.

But, this list. “Toto, I’ve got the feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Dick and the boys have endorsed a climate change denier (Tamara Meggitt), at least four candidates running in jurisdictions where they don’t live (Peter Gibson, Richard Hardy, Mano Theos and Phil Adams), one apparently running on a personal grudge (Richard Hardy), one taking credit on his campaign brochure (Ken Grant) for something he opposed and voted against, one person (Steve Blacklock) recently fined by Elections BC for a campaign violation and one person (Matthew Ellis) who says on his campaign page that local governments need to prepare for a global economic collapse.

According to Dick and the boys, these are the Comox Valley’s best and brightest, which tells you a lot about Dick.

But it doesn’t tell you anything about why they endorsed these particular candidates. They say nothing about why this collection of political wannbes would be better than the wannastay incumbents (Grant and Theos are incumbents). Not one word of justification for their endorsements.

Instead, Dick and the boys say, “Trust us. Don’t ask questions.”

Surprised? Surely you didn’t expect more from a bunch that won’t even reveal who they are? Dick and Murray won’t ever say why they endorsed these specific candidates because, if they did, you’d probably run for a cave in the hills.



But we were curious that Dick’s boys left perennial candidate Brennan Day off their list. We thought he’d be one of their ‘Stars’ for Courtenay council, especially because Day doesn’t live in Courtenay. CVM seems to really like those carpet-baggers this year.

It’s a stretch to think Day isn’t right-wing and pro-development enough for them. He’s probably memorizing Poilievre’s speeches right now. No, it must be some other reason.

Maybe it’s because Day has gone 0-2 in his desperate desire to get elected to something and they didn’t want to back somebody who might go 0-3. Maybe it’s because Day pulled a boner move by using Courtenay and BC logos on some signs and then made himself look stupid while trying to shrug off his boo-boo.

Or, maybe it’s reverse psychology and they really do want Day to get elected, but they figured getting Dick’s nod might sour his chances, so they trotted out this lot instead.

Well, it doesn’t matter. Day won’t be on Decafnation’s list of preferred candidates either. But at least we’ll tell you why when we publish our list of endorsements this week.



There’s something funny going on this local election year, even beyond the lies and misinformation spread by the Take Back Comox Valley conspiracy theorists.

By the way, it appears quite likely that these same anonymous people are now making, or paying some service to make negative campaign phone calls. These are not calls to support a candidate or extol her virtues. No they are telling lies to attack the candidates they don’t like, mostly incumbents.

The main lie they tell is that progressive candidates are taking money from the Dogwood Initiative, a citizen action network. But it’s not true.

Anyone can search the incumbent’s 2018 financial disclosure statements on the Internet and see exactly who gave money to each of them. You won’t find Dogwood. When this election is over, you’ll have access to the 2022 statements, too.

It’s all there in the public domain. Very transparent.

An alert reader who received one of these calls took a photo of her phone and recorded the number (778-743-2319). When our reader tried to call it back, it went immediately to voicemail. Dirty tricks by faceless people.

Anyway, we digress. The funny thing going on this year is that so many candidates are running for council positions in communities where they don’t live. We normally see this in provincial and federal elections when a party will parachute in a candidate to a riding where they aren’t strong.

Stewart Prest, a political scientist at Quest University, told the Vancouver Sun that this is “not as common at the municipal level because of the emphasis on being close to a community and being able to speak on its issues.”

In other words, if you really cared about a place, you would live there.

But that doesn’t seem to bother Mano Theos, who has lived in Nanaimo for a good chunk of his last term on Courtenay council and plans to continue living there with his fiance. Nor does it seem to bother these other candidates:

Phil Adams: lives in Fanny Bay, running in Courtenay.
Richard Hardy: lives in Comox, running in Area B.
Brennan Day: lives in Area B, running in Courtenay.
Peter Gibson: lives in Area C, running in Comox.
Lyndsey Northcott: lives in Royston, running in Courtenay.

A Decafnation reader who used to be a Chief Administrative Officer of a BC municipality told us that there are many reasons candidates would ‘run out of town,’ so to speak.

“Some might need the money, not that council positions pay all that well. And they see an opening even though it’s somewhere else.”

“Or, sometimes non-residential candidates are backed/supported by locals who want specific issues supported by council and need an advocate “on the inside” to help make this happen. This is a regular ploy used by developers in years past.”

The idea that candidates might be backed by special interests – tipoff: big signs – and will listen to them rather than the people who actually live in the community sounds icky. But that may be why Gibson is running in Comox. We wouldn’t know, of course, because Gibson won’t answer our emails.

Whatever the reason, there is nothing illegitimate about running out of town. It’s just that the idea of a carpet-bagger taking advantage of a political opportunity feels unethical, and in most cases doesn’t provide good governance.

The practice is just a bad idea all around. The province should change the election laws to restrict running out of town to specific, rare circumstances; for example, in larger communities where the boundaries between one jurisdiction and another are blurred.



Decafnation reached out to several of the candidates running ‘out of town.’ We asked them to explain why they weren’t running where they live.

Mano Theos was the only one to respond. He said he hoped to go back to his long-time restaurant job in Courtenay. But when we followed up and asked when he would be working here, and where and how often he would be in Courtenay, Theos said it was none of our business. “This is my private life,” he said.

But knowing how much time a candidate has to spend on council work and how often he’ll actually set foot in the community he pretends to represent are perfectly legitimate questions to ask. And voters should ask them at every opportunity.














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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Here’s the latest Comox Valley local government election results

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.

Are Courtenay taxes high, or is the city’s transparency low?

Are Courtenay taxes high, or is the city’s transparency low?

Courtenay’s year-over-year tax increases compare favorably with surrounding municipalities. So what’s all the fuss about? Maybe the answer lies in the city’s transparency — or lack of it


There’s been a lot of debate this fall about taxes in the City of Courtenay. Some people say they are too high, that low-income people are being driven from their homes and seniors are choosing between taxes and food.

Other local government observers have said the problem isn’t the amount of taxes collected, but the lack of transparency about how and why increases were needed.

The city made itself a target of this debate about a year ago when, in a single meeting, the City Council approved the hiring of 16 new employees and promoted another to a management position.

It was a dramatic move bound to attract attention from fiscal conservative voters. Some would say the optics were terrible. If the city had hired three or four new people over a multi-year period, it might not have drawn such a negative response.

A group calling itself the Comox Valley Taxpayers Alliance (CVTA) has since purchased full-page ads in The Record newspaper to criticize the hirings, Courtenay tax increases in general and to specifically call out the most progressive council members.

FURTHER READING: Courtenay candidates discuss taxes

Several conservative candidates have jumped on this “high taxes” bandwagon as the basis of their campaign platforms and to win the support and endorsement of the CVTA.

But how much have taxes increased in the City of Courtenay? And how do its increases compare with neighboring municipalities?

Courtenay’s year-over-year tax increases were 1.7 percent in 2014, 3.2 percent in 2015, 4.0 percent in 2016 and 2.0 percent in 2017.

In Comox, tax increases for the same years were, 2.8 percent, 2.7 percent, 3.5 percent and 3.4 percent.

In Cumberland, the increases were 1.0 percent, 4.5 percent, 5.5 percent and 5.0 percent.

In Campbell River, the increases were 4.3 percent in 2016 and 5.6 percent in 2017.

In Nanaimo, the increases were 3.8 percent in 2014, 2.3 percent in 2015, 1.3 percent in 2016 and 4.2 percent in 2017.

In almost every year in all five municipalities, the year-over-year taxes collected for general municipal purposes were higher than the Canadian Consumer Price Index.

But Courtenay tax increases compare favorably with its immediate neighboring municipalities.

So what’s the fuss all about?

Dick Clancy, the spokesman for the CVTA, sat down with Decafnation to explain why his group has focused on Courtenay and not Comox or Cumberland.

Clancy maintains that the city used surplus funds to pay for the 16 new hires, and when you add in the money they took out of reserve funds to balance their budget, the tax increases in 2017 and 2018 were more like 6 percent.

Clancy couldn’t provide detail for his calculations during our meeting, so Decafnation sought an expert analysis from a retired B.C. city chief administrative officer (CAO), who is not a member of the CVTA.

Our source analyzed it this way:

“Without new hires the city requires tax increases in the period from 2018 to 2021 of 5.9 percent.

“But the proposed budget increases taxes during that time by 9 percent. The city budgeted a tax rate 3.1 percent higher than actually required by expenditure increases.

“The total value of the new hires was equivalent to about a 5+ percent tax increase in 2017, but the city didn’t want to pass that along to taxpayers. So it used surplus funds in 2017 and 2018 to balance the budget, as a one-time solution.

“But the city needed an ongoing funding solution for the new hires so it budgeted excess tax increases over the next 4 years to smooth out the impact and cover the cost of the new hires. And Courtenay’s budgeted increases aren’t out of line with neighboring cities, towns and villages.”

Also, there’s nothing illegal or uncommon about such financial maneuvers in municipal governments when they are discussed and explained in open meetings.

But it appears that the Courtenay City Council discussed this solution during in-camera meetings, and has never fully disclosed the nature of those deliberations. As with most cover ups, this lack of transparency has jacked up criticisms and suspicions.

The CVTA seems to have inside information that the budget details were discussed during in-camera meetings, but Clancy denied it. The alliance did endorse incumbent Larry Jangula for mayor and incumbent Mano Theos for council.

By law, councillors have a duty to respect the confidentiality of in-camera meetings and may be personally liable if leaking the substance of a closed meeting results in a liability for the municipality.

Discussions in closed meetings are limited to selling or buying land through expropriations and legal matters, such as lawsuits.

But the B.C. Ombudsman says municipalities should record minutes for closed meetings in at least a much detail as open meetings, including a detailed description of the topics, documents considered, motions and a voting record.

Most importantly, the Ombudsman says local governments should “have a process in place to regularly review the information produced at closed meetings. Information that would no longer undermine the reason for discussing it in a closed meeting should be released as soon as practicable.”

Based on these best practices, Courtenay could release the minutes of any discussions about the hirings and subsequent budget discussions during closed meetings.

And it’s a principle that Cumberland, Comox and the Comox Valley Regional District should also adopt.

The Ombudsman goes on:

“Local governments should strive to release as much information as possible as often as possible, in order to demonstrate their commitment to the principles of transparency and accountability and to receive the benefit of a more informed, engaged and trusting public.”

Decafnation doesn’t recall any Comox Valley government ever voluntarily releasing the minutes of a closed meeting as the Ombudsman suggests. Members of the public can request the release of minutes from closed meetings, and also seek them through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.