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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?