Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton

ELECTION 2014: West Shore mayoral races could be rather quiet

Candidates for the top job are few and far between yet

Being acclaimed as mayor can mean any number of things.

It can be that no would-be candidates feel they can defeat the incumbent in a head-to-head race. Or maybe it’s simply that people are happy enough with the way things are going that no one feels inclined to challenge the mayor.

A variation on that is no real contentious issues have come up with the potential to place the existing mayor in a bad light with some voters. Of course it could be any combination of those things. This year there is the added dynamic of terms moving to four years for the first time.

As the Gazette went to press, all four incumbent mayors on the West Shore: Stew Young in Langford, Carol Hamilton in Colwood, Jane Mendum in Highlands and John Ranns in Metchosin, were still waiting for a potential challenger to come forward.

“I am not aware of anybody else (running for mayor),” Hamilton said on Tuesday, the second day council candidates were able to submit their nomination papers to municipalities. “But I have to keep my radar and my awareness up and ready.”

Hamilton defeated closest challenger, Brian Tucknott, by less than 400 votes in a three-way race in 2011.

Young has been mayor of Langford since 1993 and has won by acclamation several times – not in 2011, however, when he nonetheless soundly defeated Chris Johnson. Young, who has a solid reputation around the region as a mayor who can “get it done,” likes what he sees in his community in terms of economic development, job creation and recreational amenities for residents.

“Going into another election, I still get excited,” he said when asked how he feels about another run at the top job, whether or not anyone else stands for election. “It’s worked out pretty damned good for us. We’ve been at it for so long and most of the council’s been there for so long that we’ve got a lot of continuity.”

He appreciates being able to learn community building lessons from people like longtime councillors Lanny Seaton and Denise Blackwell over the years. Having people around the table that have similar vision and individual strengths, not to mention city staff well versed in council’s preference for streamlined information, facilitates progress, Young said.

He senses that people are pleased with how things are moving forward. In conversations with residents, he said, he hears more complaints about the Capital Regional District and its operations than about the City of Langford.

“If I’m hearing anything, it’s about the sewer costs, that’s more on the top of their minds,” he said.

In View Royal, where 12-year mayor Graham Hill is retiring, Coun. David Screech is the lone declared candidate to replace Hill.

Hamilton, should she be re-elected, will find new faces at the table. Councillors Judith Cullington, Teresa Harvey and Shari Lukens are each expected to step down, leaving their spots open for newcomers. With that in mind, Hamilton is glad for an extra year of working with council toward such goals as completion of the sewage treatment and transportation master plans, and the economic development plan passed in draft form this week.

“I welcome that extra bit of time, because … with strategic processes, it takes time to identify those and it takes time to get those done.”

Hamilton is most keen on the latter point, which she said can go a long way toward creating Colwood’s niche in the marketplace and proving that the city is far more than simply the Island Highway/Sooke Road corridor. With such projects coming on stream as Royal Bay – the high school and the first phase of the residential development – and medium-sized projects like Rexall Drugs at Colwood Corners, a new Denny’s Restaurant and the new Holiday Inn attached to the Westridge Landing development on Wale Road, Colwood is definitely turning the corner, she said.

“We’ve got lots of unfinished business – stuff we’ve been working on in the last few years – and here we are now in a position to move those forward … It’s my hope that with the additional years in there with council we can be cutting ribbons and announcing projects.”

Metchosin, Highlands politics in contrast

Residents of Metchosin have traditionally been politically aware and active. So, it’s no surprise that voter turnout in the rural community for the 2011 municipal elections surpassed all other West Shore municipalities.

John Ranns won his sixth term as mayor with a comfortable margin of victory over former councillor Ed Cooper in 2011. As well, eight people ran for the four councillor positions. Left on the sidelines in the latter group were former councillor Kyara Kahakauwila, and Karen Watson, who challenged Ranns in 2005 and 2008.

Ranns, on holiday this week and unavailable for comment, is confirmed as a mayoral candidate. As of the Gazette deadline, no one had yet submitted their name to run against him.

By contrast, tiny Highlands saw all six councillors and Mayor Jane Mendum acclaimed, saving the municipality the cost of a full election. Mendum had yet to file her papers when the Gazette caught up with her this week, but confirmed she is standing for mayor again.

She was reluctant to speak much about her campaign plans, but said she would be more forthcoming after the nomination package submission deadline next Friday (Oct. 10).

– with files from Angela Cowan

editor@goldstreagazette.com