Back in March, a member of the new North Saanich council, having apparently decided it wasn’t nearly as much fun being in the minority, referred to the Mayor as “Mr. Hitler”, and then resigned his seat. This triggered a by-election, with general voting day set for July 8 – at a cost of fifty thousand bucks.
Don’t get us wrong: Even at an inflated rate, we support his decision. And we now have the unexpected opportunity to elect a councillor far more qualified and far less likely to summarily offend. But first:
A FEW WORDS ON THE QUESTION OF “SLATES”
We don’t usually pay much attention to the falsehoods flung our way; firstly because it would take up half our waking hours, and secondly because North Saanich residents, by and large, have a pretty good nose for nonsense. But when the muck splatters on people other than us, it isn’t fair.
So here’s a friendly reminder:
Nobody has ever run on an SNS “slate,” and nobody is doing it now.
And, outside the fevered imaginations of a couple of previous councillors and their households, there’s no such thing as a “SaveNorthSaanich council,” either.
Yes, SNS endorses candidates! Of course we do, just like every other advocacy group. But the truth is that, with a DIY website, very few volunteers, and a box of leftover lawn signs (now mostly stolen over the past few weeks), SNS is much more a community newsletter than a political machine.
We all believe in preserving and protecting this wonderful place. But we do not run campaigns; we do not make donations; and we certainly would not in a million years presume to tell successful candidates how to vote on council. (Witness, for instance, Councillor Jack McClintock, endorsed by SNS in October and presently on council, very much voting his own heart.)
What we’re saying here is that shrieks of “Slate!” are just another try at discrediting a great candidate who would bring an extraordinary set of relevant qualifications to council in North Saanich.
AND WHO MIGHT THAT BE?
We first met Kristine Marshall at last year’s North Saanich Farm Market where she and her husband, Alan, offer honey made by the 16 colonies of honeybees they keep alongside the racing pigeons and falcons (falcons!!), vegetable gardens, fruit trees and chickens on their one-acre farm in Deep Cove. She's running for council, and we were thoroughly delighted to hear it.
We asked Kristine some questions in order to report back to you, dear readers, but more detail is available on her campaign webpage.
Kristine has lived in North Saanich for ten years, and brings a range of personal and professional experience that we think is pretty much on-the-nose: she’s a certified parliamentarian, which is another term for someone who has serious know-how on procedure and governance; she trained as a business analyst at UBC’s Sauder School of Business; she’s presently an executive assistant in the Office of the Deputy Chief Constable of the Victoria Police; and in December she will complete a UBC Program in Organizational Coaching, focusing on helping teams and organizations through challenging and demanding situations.
See what we mean? On the nose.
She’s also done a lot of the kind of other neat stuff that makes us feel that she’d be both a level-headed legislator and an excellent dinner party guest. That is, stuff like training and handling search dogs with the RCMP’s civilian search dog association, working as a life-support paramedic, and introducing Girl Guides and Boy Scouts to aspects of conservation, nature and the importance of habitat preservation.
In our assessment, Kristine is a person who feels strongly about protecting our green spaces, marine areas, agriculture and rural character. We suggest you take a close look at her website, and listen to all three candidates in their Radio Sidney interviews.
BUT WHY DOES THIS BY-ELECTION MATTER?
The majority of people on council are people who we believe have the best interests of the District at heart – that is, the preservation of its rural-residential nature, with a strong focus on agriculture and environmental stewardship. So why does it matter who fills the seventh seat, left vacant by Mr. Smyth?
There’s a few reasons. Firstly, there are some important decisions that, by law, can only be made with the support of a two-thirds of council – dedication of park space, tax exemptions, and certain employment decisions relating to senior staff, for instance. All those decisions need five votes to pass.
Secondly, as we discussed above: council is made up of a bunch of free-thinking people who vote how they want. One more reasonable person is good to have around on days when thorny decisions come up.
And finally – and this seems trivial, but it’s been the reason behind a number of weird decisions over the years – people go on vacation, people get the flu, people have unavoidable commitments that conflict with council meetings. With very few exceptions, any given vote in the council chamber is determined by the majority of councillors present at the time. If it’s a tie, the vote fails. Right now, we think that most of the current councillors are making good decisions. But if one of them is away, and the presently-vacant seat is filled by a person who swings for the densification team, things can go sideways.
So seriously, please vote. It’s really easy! You don’t even have to leave your house! You can get a mail-in ballot here, but make sure you get it to municipal Hall by July 8, or it won’t be counted.
You can also vote at municipal hall, live and in the flesh, from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM on any of the following days:
Wednesday, June 28
Wednesday, July 5
Saturday, July 8 (last chance!)
More details, straight from the horse's mouth, can be found on the District's by-election webpage.
We know who we’re voting for. And, as you ponder who you’d like to see on the council bench, we hope you’ll consider learning some more about Kristine Marshall.
That's it for today, folks. Thanks for reading.
And hey, let us know if you find any of our lawn signs, would ya?
Your friends and neighbours at SaveNorthSaanich