The candidate list is complete for the Oct. 20 elections.
The Municipality of North Cowichan ballot will be bursting with choices.
Incumbent Jon Lefebure, who’s also the Cowichan Valley Regional District chair, is being challenged for mayor by previous councillors Al Siebring and Joyce Behnsen.
Two of the remaining four are seeking reelection as councillors: Rob Douglas and Kate Marsh.
“The past four years have at times been frustrating and, like you, I have not always agreed with the direction of council,” Douglas remarked in confirming his candidacy. “However, North Cowichan is making significant progress on a number of fronts. We are taking action to address the housing crisis, making significant investments in public infrastructure and environmental initiatives and involving citizens and neighbourhoods in developing the budget and setting priorities.
“While we have accomplished much, significant work remains as we continue to face real challenges from managing growth and development, to addressing homelessness and inequality, to preserving our rural character and responding to issues at the neighbourhood level.”
Maeve Maguire and Tom Walker are not running again, meaning at least four councillor seats will be filled by different people.
Among the 15 running for councillor, John Koury is vying to return to council after a four-year hiatus when he lost the mayor’s race in the last election to Lefebure.
Paul Fletcher previously served as a City of Duncan councillor.
The other candidates include: Dave Haywood, Pat Hrushowy, Christopher Justice, Tek Manhas, Catherine Pastula, Peter Rusland, Debra Toporowski, Heather King, Marilyn Palmer, Rosalie Sawrie and Nick Caumanns.
An all-candidates meeting will be held at Chemainus Secondary School on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m., hosted by the Chemainus Residents Association.
“This is possibly the most important election since incorporation 1873,” noted Koury. “The outcome of this election will change the course of North Cowichan for a long time.
“If Jon and his slate of environmental activist candidates gain control and if the ‘yes’ vote prevails in the two referendum questions, North Cowichan will be subject to control of the CVRD in areas that the CVRD does not belong.”
The referendum questions voters will be responding to at the polls include: 1. Are you in favour of the Cowichan Valley Regional District adopting “CVRD Bylaw No. 4201 – Cowichan Housing Association Annual Financial Contribution Service Establishment Bylaw, 2018” to provide regional programs and services to affordable housing and homelessness prevention? and 2. Are you in favour of the Cowichan Valley Regional District adopting “CVRD Bylaw No. 4202 – Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Service Establishment Bylaw, 2018” to support regional programs related to drinking water and watershed protection?
“We need to end the reign of the environmental and social political activists that oppose development at every turn and focus solely on saving the planet,” added Koury. “It’s not that I disrespect their way of thinking but it does not belong at North Cowichan council. They should run for higher office. North Cowichan needs more skill sets from folks who have experience and understand the role of corporate governance.
“North Cowichan’s average annual economic growth is 0.8 per cent over 30 years, yet residential taxes have doubled, government has outpaced industry as the main economic driver, local government has ballooned and will increase immeasurably if the referendum passes and the activists get in,” he added. “We need to change that now.”
In the City of Duncan, there are four people making a bid to replace outgoing mayor Phil Kent, including long-time councillors Sharon Jackson and Michelle Staples.
Mel Dorey has given up his post as CVRD Area G (Saltair/Gulf Islands) director. The four hopefuls to replace him include: Sean Jonas, Lynne Smith, Lia Versaevel and Rod Smith.
The Saltair all-candidates meeting is Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Saltair Community Centre.