Maple Bay All Candidates Meeting: My Take

October 26, 2011

Walking up to the All Candidates meeting last night at the fire hall in Maple Bay, I said to my friend Heather, “There are 22 candidates in total, and I bet there will be 22 people in the audience.” Was I wrong.

The fire hall was packed — standing room only — with Maple Bayers who are paying attention to this election. Each candidate was given 2 minutes to tell us why we should vote for them. After their two minutes were up, we were invited to ask questions. At first I thought this format would be a snore, and, at times, my eyes glazed over. However, with all those people in the room, it was anything but boring.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, here is my take on the event:

  1. There are three types of candidate: those who seem to favour the Right (all wearing dark suits), those who seem to favour the Left (all wearing comfortable [likely organic] pants), and those who seem to sit in the middle (all wearing nothing that made a statement either way). Hearing them all speak, I am inclined to vote for those who sit in the middle: They are progressive and creative — and there are no chips on their shoulders.
  2. Without question, Scott Baker made the biggest impression. He is passionate about his ideas on how to improve council’s processes (or rather, he’s passionate about how they’ve screwed everything up). Unfortunately, his passions drove him to speak beyond the allotted two minutes and the moderator had to drown out his voice with the ding! ding! ding! of the timer bell. If he had stopped at two minutes, he’d have had our sympathy. Lesson learned.
  3. Some of the old guard (those in office today) amazed me. Not all, just some had a lack of professionalism and respect. They were like teenaged mean girls, snickering to each other when an “NDPer” had a question or made a comment. Kind of reminded me of Cyril Sneer and his cronies from that show The Raccoons. The Raccoons always won in the end…
  4. Kate Marsh spoke well…I think. She went first (bad luck) so I can’t really remember what she said. She answered a question well, so there’s that.
  5. Barb Lines. She’s one of those in the middle. She’s got a list of positive changes she initiated while on council, including having created the Maple Bay Parade (love it). She’s the business, and she’s got my vote.
  6. Robert Douglas. Passionate, knowledgeable. A little nervous in his two-minute speech, but answered questions clearly and intelligently. He’s 29. I wish there was a way he could be involved, like a mentorship, so that in three years he’s more ready.
  7. Ruth Hartmann. Looks at people when she speaks to them. I like that. And she had the best brochure of the night. Handled the questions well. She’s clearly done this before. She’s been on council for three terms; this is her last. Four times lucky?
  8. Jon Lefebure. Like him. (The only thing I don’t like about him is I don’t know how to pronounce his last name. But he can’t help that.) When asked about rising taxes, he said, “There will always be rising taxes. We need to think creatively about how we use them. So, if we need a new Municipal Hall, we don’t just build another building. We look at different work options, like not being in the office every day, and make creative choices that will use tax dollars wisely.” Or something like that. No chip on his shoulder.
  9. Joyce Behnsen. Spoke really well. Pointed out a few things council could have handled better (the Cliffs, Catalyst, etc.). She could give those other mayoral candidates a run for their money, especially in a debate. I would like to see that.
  10. One girl in the crowd (maybe 20 years old?) asked Jennifer Woike (who wins the award for Best Public Speaker) about jobs for the kids who will graduate from VIU. I wonder if any of the candidates went up to her afterwards and introduced themselves. If they didn’t, they’re idiots. Missed opportunity.

The rest, well, they either didn’t make an impression or I don’t want to offend. Over to you, North Cowichanians. On November 19th….who will you vote for?

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22 comments

    1. Thanks Ricki. I enjoyed it enough that I’m going to hit the Crofton meeting on November 3rd. The format is different so hopefully we’ll learn more about the newbies and people like Kate Marsh who didn’t get enough air time last night for her message to resonate. I’ll keep you posted.

      Maeve

  1. How about some thanks to the Maple Bay Community Association who fearlessly put the meeting together, and sort of herded cats with the cacophany of politicians and crowd. Year after year the group continues to represent the community. And to put on the parade and all else for Canada Day under the able leadership of Sheila Kitson.

  2. I too was impressed with the turnout. Kudos should also go to late arriver Hillary Huntley who was late because she rode her bike from her previous meeting! She was passionate and had new ideas on how to reach the young. I will vote for her. Speaking of young, where were they? Is no one teaching them that ‘rights’ come with responsibilities. I was also impressed with Pat Barnes and will vote for her, Jennifer Woike and Kate Marsh. Sounds like I’m going for all women but I will also vote for Rob Douglas. While he is young he seemed to have done his research and was certainly more informed than most of the present group! For mayor, I’m going with Joyce. She expressed my thoughts to a “t” and had new ideas. It will be an interesting election. Please get out and vote. Its your responsibility.

    1. Where were the young? Isn’t that the question of our times? I walked away thinking that if young people (under 30s) were voters, we would have a completely different government. Al Seibring suggested we do as the Aussies and make voting compulsory. On that (alone), he and I agree.

      Thank you Lezlie!

      Maeve

  3. Re. the Maple Bay Parade…thanks for the credit, but it was a team effort and that association is an amazing team…who knows who creates something when ideas are bouncing all over the place and everyone is excited about the possibilities!

    Wondering how many young people are members of community committees. That’s a great place to get involved and learn a lot about how the municipal decisions can affect people’s everyday lives.

    I tried to talk with all of the people who posed questions last night after the formal stuff. Would love to have connected with the young woman, but somehow missed her. I stayed until 10:00. If anyone knows her, please encourage her to call me. 250-748-0672.

  4. Thanks for your insights Maeve. I worked at north Cowichan about 4 years ago and your observations about John Lefebure are spot on. Hope we can meet up at the mb park someday soon.

    1. Thanks for your comment Alyssa. Good to know my impression is valid. I’ve heard he plays disc golf, which means he’s not only smart but cool too. Surely he’s not too good to be true? (Political poetry!)

      Maeve

  5. What about Clayton for mayor? I am fed up with ever increasing taxes and user fees (h2o etc) as I unfortunately don’t have a job that keeps paying me 10-20 percent a year. The Tom’s and lebeferi’s of council don’t seem to get this. Thought that a farmer might understand this and I like his corny signs. That and when I see the $40 000 hybrids where a 1/2 price civic would do the job doesn’t make me happy. And don’t get me started on the new $5 million city hall they want to build. My house is older than there present one so too bad in my opinion.

    1. I can say this for Clayton: his van is awesome. Smart way to advertise. And his signs are brilliant too. I remember thinking his font choice was ridiculous, but I notice his signs more than the rest. If he doesn’t get the mayor’s seat, maybe he should go into marketing.

      Thanks for your input Julio!

      Maeve

  6. many tx for this Maeve…I did feel a little guilty not attending the forum…I do appreciate your take on the candidates for Cowichan and I have a little more incentive to attend the next on Nov 3. Cowichan is lucky to have you to speak openly about the candidates!

  7. I did feel guilty about not going to the meeting so your précis was most welcome!!! good for you to attend and more importantly send your thoughts out to the cowichan valley!!!

  8. Hi Maeve,
    Great blog and excellent analysis of the all candidates forum. They should have you writing for one of the local papers. And thank you for the kind words on my speech.
    I am wondering if there is some way I can persuade you that I am ready to serve on Council. I may be the youngest of all the candidates, but I can assure you that I am very mature for my age.
    I look forward to reading your analysis of the next two all candidates forums.
    Keep up the good work!
    Robert Douglas

    1. Thanks for your comment Robert. I doubt the papers would want to print a biased report like this. That’s the beauty of having my own blog!

      As for your readiness, I look forward to hearing more from you in the coming weeks. You stood your ground (and even overshadowed our esteemed mayor) during the question period. Keep that up and you’ll have my vote.

      Good luck!

      Maeve

  9. It is very true that if youth did indeed turn up to the polls that we would have a completely different government (on all levels). We should not blame their apathy for the governments that we continuously get, but rather put our focus on our current governments for not being an inclusive space for youth. This is what Deveann was getting at in her letter to the editor about the meeting. Why would youth get involved when their is such clear disregard for our voices and experiences. We have a place in politics, and we shouldn’t have to ‘grow up’ in order to access it.

    There is an intrinsic value to having youth in positions of power in politics: it is not what we (I am 24) know or have experienced, but rather what we do not know and have yet to experience that is what our governments need. It is the hope, creativity, and imagination that government needs. I challenge everyone who judges candidates to reimagine what is valued as “experience”, rather then quantity, measure it based on quality. Councils that reflect a true diversity of experiences are the ones that we should be constructing when we cast our votes.

    the more youth in positions of power in politics more youth will vote.

    I am 24 and i am running for Duncan City Council. I KNOW i am ‘ready’ to do the work. I KNOW that Rob Douglas is as well.

    1. Brilliant response Jen. You are so right about focusing on how government can include youth. I looked around the same room Devann was in, and found three of my peers (I’m 37), one of whom I came with. Most of my friends either don’t vote, or do vote, but without conviction. I hope you and Devann, and others like you, can find a way to change the election process so it engages those of us south of 40.

      And you are right that I wasn’t fair when I judged Robert on his age. I can only judge him on what he says and what he does. Consider my wrists slapped and a lesson learned. See? You are changing the world already.

      I wish you luck in your campaign.

      Maeve

  10. Please don’t be too hard on yourself and your peers, Maeve. I know many people my age (50+) who don’t bother voting in the municipal elections because they feel they are unimportant. Shame on them. All elections are important and it is our responsibility as citizens of a democratic country to vote. I wish the ‘Occupy” people would get themselves organized and prepare a manifesto. Maybe it should be called “Take Back Democracy”. I did my share of protesting in the past and I hate to think I have to do it again. My generation has been a disappointment. Its time yours started to take the reins. 🙂

    1. Ruth – The Maple Bay Community Association’s AGM this October will again provide a forum for this year’s candidates to speak. Not sure on the date, as I will be away — end of this month though (ask Sheila Kitson).

      1. October 21 2014, Maple Bay Fire Hall Maple Bay Road.
        Doors open…………………………………. 6:30 pm.
        MBCAssociation AGM…………………. 7:00 pm. Election of Officers.
        All Candidates meeting …………………7:30 pm.

        Refreshments will be served.

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