John Ranns is running for his seventh non-consecutive term as Mayor of Metchosin this November, but the longtime civil servant isn’t going to be able to just walk back into office if challenger Ed Cooper has anything to say about it.
“The only reason I’m running against Ranns is to make sure he’s not acclaimed,” says Cooper, an 84-year-old Korean War veteran. “I think every candidate should stand up there in front of the taxpayer, and that doesn’t happen in acclamation.”
As for his own campaign platform, Cooper, who’s lived in Metchosin for more than 50 years, is passionately committed to making sure the community stays “rural.”
Ranns is of the same mind. “The whole reason for me running is to try and perpetuate our rural lifestyle,” including the feasibility of living in the country, he adds.
“Affordable preservation of lifestyle. That’s a big element of it. If you can’t afford to be rural, then you can’t be.”
Metchosin has the lowest residential taxes for assessed value of all 13 municipalities, continues Ranns, and “we’ve also got by far the lowest administrative costs as well.”
Cooper isn’t convinced that Metchosin’s budget is as trim and efficient. He cites the upgrading of Kangaroo Road as an example.
“It came in at $400,000 over budget and I got those numbers off the municipal hall,” he says. “I want the budget to be kept under control. I think everybody should get a good wage, but when you’re spending someone else’s money – the taxpayers’ – you have to get the best deal.”
On this, both Cooper and Ranns seem to agree. Metchosin contracts out all its professional services, such as planning, says Ranns, a practice that has saved the district a substantial amount of money and allowed funds to be directed back into the municipality.
“We’ve got an up-to-date infrastructure,” says Ranns. “We’re debt free, and we have reserve funds in place to cover any eventuality.”
For Cooper, if he’s elected, he’ll be committed to preserving the community and supporting its residents. “I want it to stay rural. I want the roads to stay rural,” he says. “And farming in Metchosin is really important. Farmers are starving here, so we should be able to come up with a plan to help them, rather than just farming taxes.”
Ranns has “two major issues” he plans to see through if he’s elected once again to office.
“One is the treaty negotiations and how that impacts our community, and the other is amalgamation. (It) isn’t going away. If Metchosin were to be amalgamated into an urban municipality, we’d be finished.”
The incumbent hopes Metchosin residents “appreciate the direction we’ve taken the community since 2005,” and says he’ll work to “maintain its rural direction no matter what the circumstances.”
As for Cooper, who still runs a saw mill and spends most of his days working a chainsaw, he plans to keep Ranns on his toes, especially at the all-candidates meetings.
“It was all about getting Ranns up front for people to ask him questions.”