Former councillor Ed Cooper plans to challenge Metchosin Mayor John Ranns for his seat in the November civic election.
Cooper, 81, a 51-year resident of the rural community, said he’s unhappy with how Metchosin is handling it’s spending, particularly the district’s recent purchase of road maintenance equipment.
Metchosin bought a backhoe, a grater and other gear from a long-time roads contractor for about $50,000 after the company shut down. Cooper has sparred a number of times with Ranns at council meetings over the purchase of roads equipment.
“We are not in the excavating business. We shouldn’t be competing with private business. It’s insane,” Cooper said. “Somebody’s got to say something.”
He’s also critical of Metchosin widening some roads and taking away from the rural character of the community. He said Kangaroo Road in particular looks like a “super highway” after recent repaving.
“We should have rural, windy roads. Not edge to edge blacktop,” he said.
Ranns has said he will seek a sixth (non consecutive) term as mayor. Cooper said he feared no one else would run and the incumbent mayor would be reelected by acclimation.
“There is no way I’m going to stand here and let anyone get in by acclimation,” Cooper said. “You’ve got to fight for it.”
Cooper served as a Metchosin councillor from 2002 to 2005, and was chair of highways and public works committee. He was sidelined after failing to earn a council seat in the 2005 and 2008 elections.
“I attend council meetings. I can see what is going on,” he said. “The taxpayer is going to take a real beating.”
Watson seeks council seat
Cooper ally and long-time Metchosin politician Karen Watson, 62, said she will seek one of four council seats this time around.
She served seven years as councillor and six years as mayor through the 1990s and first half of 2000s. She is a 32-year resident of the community.
After two-terms as mayor, Ranns unseated Watson in 2005 in a heated race that hinged on the level of property development rural Metchosin should accept. She tried and failed to regain the mayor’s job in 2008.
Similar to Cooper’s concerns, Watson wants to look into whether the district should be operating its own public works department and if it should be contracting out other municipal positions.
“My main stress is that residents get the best value for their tax dollars,” Watson said.
–by Edward Hill and Charla Huber