This week’s official announcement from Graham Hill that he is not running for a fifth term as mayor of View Royal, can be seen as the unofficial kickoff to the 2014 municipal election campaign on the West Shore.
With his trademark wit and passion for his community, Hill, who succeeded Bill Camden in 2002 and beat out two other candidates for the top job, helped put the tiny municipality on the map in the region over the past 12 years.
His successor, whether it is someone already on council or someone from outside the circle as Hill was initially, will have large shoes to fill. They’ll also have somewhat of a clean slate to start with.
Councils are fluid things, changing almost out of necessity every few years. Without new blood injected at each opportunity to do so, councils can stagnate and grow tired. The fresh ideas and approaches of newcomers can be the breath of fresh air needed to revitalize such elected bodies.
It can be a double-edged sword when a talented councillor decides to challenge the incumbent mayor for their job. In either result, the community often loses an effective representative at the council table.
When the mayor steps down, as Hill is doing and Sidney’s Larry Cross is after two terms, the door swings wide open for individuals to step through, to serve their communities in perhaps the most meaningful way.
We sometimes worry about the lack of challengers to mayors – Langford’s Stew Young and Saanich’s Frank Leonard have had few challengers over their 22 and 18 years in office, respectively – but acknowledge that satisfaction among the populace is also an illustration of democracy at work.
We appreciate the efforts of our elected officials, who take on varying workloads and generally do so without complaint.
At the same time we look forward to seeing what this year’s crop of candidates around the West Shore bring to the table, and hope all five municipalities are improved as a result of well-contested elections in November.