Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Coverage in the Saanich New of all of the Saanich Candidates

This is a good article from the Saanich News on all of the candidates in the race in Saanich.

Introducing Saanich council candidates

With the federal election out of the way, it's time to focus on municipal politics. The deadline to file election papers was Oct. 10. The only current councillors who are not running again are Bob Gillespie and Jacki Ngai. In this issue, the Saanich News speaks with the seven incumbents seeking re-election, including mayor Frank Leonard. We also introduce six new challengers, including Harald Wolf, competing for the top mayor's spot.

THE INCUMBENTS

Mayoral Candidate: Frank Leonard

www.frankleonard.ca

Background: Leonard has been mayor of Saanich since 1996. Previously, he managed three Victoria Tire Ltd's stores and served on council since 1986.

-Top 3 current committees:

Saanich police board, chair

Regional transit commission, member

Federation of Canadian municipalities, member

-During your last term on council, what was the accomplishment you're most proud of?

The strides we've made on the sustainability file. Everything from pipes in the ground to the sustainable climate action plan, which has now been recognized as an award-winning program in B.C.

-What is your main goal for your next term, should you be re-elected?

Building on that success and keeping the municipality safe. I think it's a tremendous success that our police, fire and emergency services are not controversial. I've always made those a priority and worked those files personally.

-What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

Changed economic times. The yellow-caution light is on now, but next year's budget sessions could be in a very different economic climate. I have led a council (and been in business) through those sorts of times before.

-What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

This is been the best council I've ever had in 22 years. It's been very issue-focused and more than 90 per cent of decisions have been unanimous. I would be hard pressed to criticize this council.

Council Candidate: Vic Derman

www.vicderman.com

Background: A retired school teacher, Derman has been on Saanich council since 2002 and has served as president of the North Quadra Land Use Protection Association.

-Top 3 current committees:

Saanich arts, culture and heritage committee, chair

CRD water commission, chair

CRD liquid management committee, member

-During your last term on council, what was the accomplishment you're most proud of?

I led the effort to make sure that we didn't waste over $1 billion going the wrong way with sewage treatment.

-What is your main goal for your next term, should you be re-elected?

My goal is to get us moving to the future and promise offered by the Natural City (a personal initiative to prioritize the environment in all new development).

-What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

Climate change and the need to meet infrastructure requirements. We need to change dramatically the way we design and build our urban environment.

What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

I'd very much like to see more public presentations. We don't allow presentations and other municipalities do. Also, to get items on the committee of the whole (agenda), rather than the council agenda, so that people can speak to them.

Council Candidate: Leif Wergeland

www.leifwergeland.ca

Background: After 25 years as a business owner, Wergeland semi-retired in 1992. He was first elected to Saanich council in 1996.

-Top 3 current committees:

Saanich transportation and planning committee, member

CRD water board, member

CRD liquid waste management committee, member

-During your last term on council, what was the accomplishment you're most proud of?

The focus on the need to continually look for opportunities for affordable housing and to ensure that Saanich develops a good mix for all economic levels and ages.

-What is your main goal for your next term, should you be re-elected?

People are concerned about many issues such as climate warming and taxes -- issues that are tied together. My goal is to encourage and expect change -- such as responsible budgeting and alternative forms of transportation.

-What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

Transportation is a big issue. I think we should address it in the form of development we are doing. Also on a regional level, encouraging alternate forms of transportation and encouraging people to change their ways of getting around.

-What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

Even though I believe we are a very open council, we have to continue to look at new avenues of engaging the public.

Council Candidate: Vicki Sanders

www.vickisanders.blogspot.com, www.vickisanders.com, facebook politician's profile

Background: Sanders has a career in accounting, marketing and the arts and has been a Saanich resident for more than 50 years.

-Top 3 current committees:

Saanich environment committee, chair

Administrative traffic committee, co-chair

Finance and personnel committee, member

-During your last term on council, what was the accomplishment you're most proud of?

I'm proud of encouraging public involvement and being receptive to the community and open and approachable.

-What is your main goal for your next term, should you be re-elected?

To uphold that. I would like truly accessible government. (I also) strongly support arts and heritage and the environment.

-What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

I think the most pressing things will be to address the issues the community finds important -- such as transportation and safety -- and doing that within the constraints of (the economic downturn) without having to increase taxes.

-What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

I would like the opportunity for the community -- both residential and business -- to give presentations. I would like them to have the opportunity to speak to issues that we bring forward as recommendations.

Council Candidate: Susan Brice

www.susanbrice.ca

Background: Before serving on Saanich council, Brice has been mayor of Oak Bay and MLA for Saanich South. She is currently director of Victoria Silver Threads.

-Top 3 current committees:

CRD environment committee, chair

CRD round table for the environment, chair

Healthy Saanich, chair

-During your last term on council, what was the accomplishment you're most proud of?

I brought to our council a motion that we go pesticide-free on municipal lands.

-What is your main goal for your next term, should you be re-elected?

To carry on by encouraging, through positive example and bylaws, a way to make Saanich (residents) go pesticide free.

-What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

Pressure on our land. I have been a strong advocate for maintaining our Agricultural Land Reserve and our Urban Containment Boundary. Recognizing that we don't want sprawl, so to intelligently find ways to infill and densify.

-What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

Applicants would have to submit any information regarding their proposal on the Friday prior to the council meeting. (Last-minute information) leaves you trying to fill in the blanks and hope you've got it.

Council Candidate: Wayne Hunter

www.whunter.ca

Background: After 27 years as a school administrator, Hunter served as mayor of Central Saanich. He was elected to Saanich council three years ago.

-Top 3 current committees:

Mayor's alternate at the CRD

CRD water board, member

Saanich parks, trails and recreation committee, member

-During your last term on council, what was the accomplishment you're most proud of?

I contributed to the stability of council. I believe I work well with and within council. I hate five-four votes. That is not an agreement.

What is your main goal for your next term, should you be re-elected?

Work on the Official Community Plan. For one, better balance and transportation; two, better affordable housing initiatives, secondary suites and granny flats; and three, ensuring we're a leader in greening our community.

-What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

Finding how to balance all those balls. I'm concerned that some other communities will come under quite a bit of (financial) stress and being the biggest (in the CRD) you have a responsibility to other smaller communities to carry them along with you.

-What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

A public hearing should be about hearing the public -- not to hear a bunch of councillors up the ante or debate the whole issue again. Stop talking, start listening.

Council Candidate: Judy Brownoff

www.judybrownoff.ca, www.judybrownoff.blogspot.com, facebook profile

Background: Brownoff has been a small business owner since 1980 and a member of Saanich council since 1994.

-Top 3 current committees:

Smart Growth BC board, director

BC healthy communities steering committee, chair

Saanich bicycle and pedestrian committee, chair

-During your last term on council, what was the accomplishment you're most proud of?

The Senior Friendly Pilot Project in the Shelbourne Corridor had seniors and businesses talking about how the neighborhood could be more accommodating with an aging population.

-What is your main goal for your next term, should you be re-elected?

Establishing composting in Saanich so that Hartland will be the only landfill we need as we move forward to treat our waste as a resource and start to reuse it. Establishing a Food Policy Council to plan and manage our food sources. Producing five per cent of our needs and importing the balance is not sustainable.

-What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

With 25 per cent of our staff hitting retirement age within the next five to seven years, hospitals, beds and support services for our seniors are key issues.

-What one thing would you improve about council or its process?

Communication with our residents by way of town hall meetings, bi-monthly newsletters on what’s new, and a better, engaging website.

THE CHALLENGERS

Mayoral candidate: Harald Wolf

On the web: www.wolfweb.ca, Facebook page

Professional background:

A self-described generalist, Wolf's had careers in information technology, the mining sector and construction.

What is your main goal on council as mayor, should you be elected?

I will strive to build an atmosphere of open governance, with increased transparency and more meaningful dialogue between stakeholders. The role of the advisory committees must be strengthened.

What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

Saanich, like most suburban areas, will need to transition out of the traditional "hop-in-the-car for everything" model and into a more sustainable and liveable one. We also need to strengthen our local economy and interdependence, so we are less impacted by distant events over which we have no control.

What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

All decisions and actions must be driven by our shared vision for a sustainable future, rather than by piecemeal bartering on isolated development proposals.

Top three community involvements:

Helped integrate the water board into the CRD

Composting Centre and Sierra Club, volunteer

CRD waste-reduction speakers' bureau

Council candidate: Dean Murdock

On the web: www.deanmurdock.ca

Professional background:

Murdock is the manager of health-sector monitoring with B.C. Ministry of Health Services.

What is your main goal on council, should you be elected?

I'm hearing on the doorstep that what we need most urgently is improved mobility. That's everything from rapid transit to sidewalk improvements. We need to function regionally to plan for transportation more efficiently. In Saanich, it means cycling lanes and dedicated transit lanes.

What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

The way we manage growth. That's where we're going to situate density and how we're going to protect agricultural land, greenspace and the quality and characteristics of Saanich.

What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

To council's credit, they probably are among the most publicly assessible councils in the region (but) I think that too much of the process has moved into the council portion where the public can be present but can't participate.

Top three community involvements:

Sierra Club Victoria Group, Chair and Director of Transportation Initiatives

Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association, vice president

Saanich Environmental Advisory Committee, Community representative

Council candidate: Patrick Chénier

On the web: www.patrickchenier.ca

Professional background:

Chénier is general manager of a non-profit with Aboriginal Sports and Recreation of B.C. and is certified as a high-performance coach.

What is your main goal on council, should you be elected?

I'm going to offer a balanced approach that would promote the environmental and social care of the community within a fiscally responsible framework. People have told me they want public accountability, they want fair taxation, they want value for money. We need to be living within our means.

What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

I think that the fiscal responsibility will be very critical. You look at what's happening with the whole financial world so we need to pay attention to that and make sure we our innovative, we find value for our money.

What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

Building community capacity for community associations and other stakeholders in the community. At the community association level, it's a small group of volunteers, and they do a lot of good work, so how do we engage a larger number of people?

Top three community involvements:

President of the North Quadra Residents Association

Saanich appointee to the Community Council for Greater Victoria

Sports B.C. board of directors

Council candidate: Paul Gerrard

On the web: www.paulgerrard.ca

Professional background:

Gerrard owns a company in the construction industry on Vancouver Island, which is a member of the Canadian Home Builders' Association and the Victoria Construction Association.

What is your main goal on council, should you be elected?

Housing affordability. We have to start building for the working poor, for entry-level people, for the elderly, for young families. (As luxury condo development slows down), there's an opportunity here to get in, maybe with the municipality's help, and start getting some good affordable housing units on the page.

What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

Land use and transportation planning. Saanich should be partnering with B.C. Transit to improve the system and the basic infrastructure so bus ridership will increase. In the long term, we should be looking at an integrated light rail system throughout the CRD.

What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

I turn the question around. People do not take the time to go to council meetings and voice their opinion or their problem.

Top three community involvements:

President of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association.

Vice chair of the Greater Victoria Public library board

board member of the Capital Region Housing Corporation.

Council candidate: Victor Hughes

On the web: http://vichughes.shawwebspace.ca

Professional background:

Hughes retired after 30 years with Canada Post and 20 years as a union representative.

What is your main goal on council, should you be elected?

Basically rejuvenating the public discourse and hopefully getting greater voter turnout. We have to look at a reorganization. We have the largest number of administrators by far of the four main communities down here.

What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

Affordability of housing. I'm proposing that we use the available land that is out there. Any schools that close, I am for allowing Saanich to use the property and return it to the public domain.

What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

We have to have a recognition of who is exactly speaking to council. Nobody is asked, 'are you a resident of Saanich?' (Also) I'd like to see referendums used for (big issues) like height restrictions.

Top three community involvements:

Patient-volunteer at the UVic medical program to discuss living with cancer and past addictions with alcohol

Member of online support groups of survivors of cancer

Council candidate: Robert Wickson

On the web: www.robwickson.ca

Professional background:

Partner with Discovery Economic Consulting, provides economic advice mostly to the courts.

What is your main goal on council, should you be elected?

I would like to encourage a very strong level of debate around the issues and an opportunity to really engage the community in those issues.

What do you predict will be the most pressing issue to face Saanich over the coming years?

The issue is going to be how they grow and what they're going to look like in the future. They really need to be aggressive about some things but at the same time we need to be pulling back on some things. The rural areas need to be kept rural but the more urban areas should be pursuing those goals.

What one thing would you improve about council or its processes?

I'm not inside the tent yet, so I haven't done a good business analysis of how they operate. From (the outside) it seems there's a bit of a disconnect between council and the public.

Top three community involvements:

Ten years as treasurer of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association

President of the Bike to Work Society

Past president of the Greater Victoria and B.C. Chamber of Commerce

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