Monday, September 16, 2019 ~ SOOKE
~ by Mary P Brooke, West Shore Voice News
About 50 people showed up on Sunday September 15 to meet seven of the candidates who are running for the one open council seat on District of Sooke municipal council. That could be considered a low turnout based on the number of voters in a municipal area of over 13,000 residents (probably about 9,000 of those being eligible voters).
There could still be 10 names on the by-election ballot for advance voting on Saturday September 28 (as well as advance voting September 18 and 25), but two candidates (Jeff McArthur and Ken Robar) have dropped out. Which means voters will need to pay additional attention to where they mark their ballot, so as not to waste their voting opportunity.
Not attending the meet and greet on Sunday was candidate Herb Haldane, but he is still in the race.
Candidates attending on Sunday were Dana Lajeunesse, Lorraine Pawlivsky-Love, Kevin Pearson, Mick Rhodes, Britt Santowski, Christina Schlattner, and Jeff Stewart.
Pearson is a two-term Sooke councillor who ran for mayor against Maja Tait in October 2018; his campaign is again about stable governance. He works full time at Canada Post but is ready to get back in the saddle of municipal governance.
Mick Rhodes also ran for mayor in October 2018; his campaign again is about slowing things down in Sooke, referring to all the recent changes in the growing town as “a tidal wave”.
Jeff Stewart was on the first council at incorporation in 1999. He ran for council in October 2018. He works at Western Foods in Sooke and has stayed in touch with his community.
Pawlivsky-Love works in communications consulting. Schlattner has worked in news media and business consulting, saying she has experience dealing with provincial and federal governments. Santowski is actively working as news media in Sooke; in 2018 she tried to win a seat on the school board.
For this by-election there is no traditional all candidates meeting allowing debate in public among the candidates. The meet-and-greet on Sunday at Sooke Community Hall was presented as an event to meet with candidates to ask them a question directly at their own table in the large room. A time limit and ‘sound of the horn’ directed people to their next choice of candidate table after about 10 or 15 minutes.
The event format seemed effective for those who showed up, but for the rest of the Sooke community there seems to be no other opportunity to hear all the candidates debate and interact. The District of Sooke approached the Sooke Chamber of Commerce but was told they did have time or resources to hold a candidates meeting.
The four-hour afternoon event (2 to 6 pm) was organized by Transition Sooke, including information about their organization, and refreshments. Lead organizer of Transition Sooke is now Bernie Klassen, succeeding Jeff Bateman who as of October 2018 now sits on Sooke Council.
Many of the usual politically-involved people of the community were there to participate. Some candidates had printed materials, others did not.
Only a few of the candidates have signs up around town (complicating the visual field with also the federal election candidates having their signs going up around the Sooke area and along westbound Highway 14).
The expense limit for each candidate is $6,978.50.
Advance voting on September 18 and 25 will be held upstairs in Sooke council chambers at Sooke municipal hall, 8 am to 8 pm.
General voting for the District of Sooke by-election will be held at Edward Milne Community School (EMCS) on Saturday September 28 from 8 am to 8 pm.