My picks for Nanaimo's By-election
All 13 candidates have desirable qualities for the one councillor position up for grabs on July 8th.
In order to attempt to prioritise them I used a 10 point scale as follows:
1. connect with and really hear where people are coming from, including genuine consultation with the local Snuneymuxw First Nation
2. be astute managers –which includes putting sufficient effort to listen to people; do their own research; attend meetings and public events; and be able to make their own decisions (vs. blindly vote along with others)
3. think through problems creatively, preferably by finding “win-win” solutions for all involved
4. balance fiscal restraints with community needs
5. sniff out when staff are trying to manipulate councillors to vote a certain way
6. have a vision of sustainability and affordability for the community and our planetary home
7. be authentic (not fake or egotistical)
8. be a team player: genuinely work with other councillors and the mayor
9. Extra point for being a woman (my bias: we need more of them)
10. Extra point for being younger (my bias: the Millennials better understand what we need to do to attract this needed population and become more sustainable)
Please note that none of the above parameters consider the usual “right-left” wing perspective, although those who are stuck in a narrow perspective are unlikely to score very high on most of these parameters.
I score one point for each of the above 10 considerations. A candidate who (in my estimation, of course) does not obtain at least 5 of the possible 10 points is not on my top picks. From the top:
Sacia (pronounced “Sasha”) Burton is a young female and full of good ideas such as improving individual and community well-being (food security, active transportation, affordable housing, citizen engagement) and being a team-player. Her profile and answers on www.NanaimoNet.com and www.ournanaimo.com have the most pragmatic and thought-through policies of all the candidates. She is bright, positive, and able to make points without disrespecting others who disagree with her (“My experience as an advocate in University governance taught me to match thoughtful critique with an empathetic ear.”) She was the only candidate in the Chamber of Commerce/Young Professionals event to ask the audience questions (not easy when one is given only one minute to reply to a question!) and after her poll was completed she replied to the responses with “That’s interesting.” She is likely resilient, which will be necessary if elected to the current Council. She is as unique as is her name. 10/10
Noah Routley is a current school board trustee. He seems to be a team-player (“I will increase overall stakeholder and community advocacy if elected. My mandate is to be available and accessible to constituents, bringing public concerns to the board. Now more than ever in our school district we need advocates with a heart and a powerful voice... My co-working style is collaborative and supportive, while also being a strong advocate and leader.” –see his trustee profile at http://www.nanaimobulletin.com/news/school-trustee-candidate-noah-routley/; see also his first points noted in the current https://www.ournanaimo.com/index.php/question-1/ “First and foremost we need to hear from Nanaimo residents”) as well as comments made at http://www.nanaimonet.com/432653805). He seems to support active transportation based on what he wrote in the Our Nanaimo website just cited but I see no evidence on how he would accomplish this, especially given his stance against raising taxes. He is more likely knowledgeable about what is needed to reduce the growing mental health issues due to his related background. He advocates for a collaborative and practical approach to the city’s social issues. 7/10
In Kevin Cantelon’s responses to the Greater Nanaimo Cycling Coalition’s survey in the last general election (http://www.bikesense.org/elections/councillors/councillor-candidates/content/KevinCantelon.pdf) he strongly advocated for an improved cycling infrastructure. In his recent response to the Our Nanaimo (https://www.ournanaimo.com/index.php/question-1/) his views on how to make the city more responsive to current and future needs are practical and sustainable. As a lawyer he seems to have an idea how to respond to conflict and says he will work collaboratively. In my experience a number of lawyers are able to do this. “My platform calls for a return to civility and functionality.” Kevin seems keen to improve the social and economic conditions in the city. He seems to balance fiscal and social needs. 6+/10
Sheryl Armstrong is a retired RCMP officer. She’s interested in both economic development and reducing the city’s mental health issues, bringing leadership to the Council, and listening to/connecting with the electorate. Sheryl will likely be able to stand up to the bullying by some councillors. She has training in interest based negotiation, conflict resolution and conflict management. (https://www.ournanaimo.com/index.php/question-3rd/). While her principals are noteworthy it is not clear to me what policies, apart from mental health, she wishes to accomplish. She seems to be a fiscal conservative who may also be approachable by the electorate. She made mention of the need for bike lanes (https://www.ournanaimo.com/index.php/question-1/). She seems to place a lot of trust in the abilities of the city’s CEO (see https://www.ournanaimo.com/index.php/question-2/). 6/10
Kevin Storrie has previous civic experience (two terms on the Campbell River Council) that would bring needed experience to Nanaimo’s Council. He is a former builder who has a social conscience. He seeks to be a team player. He’s been through enough personal trials to have developed empathy for others. He has plenty of good ideas. My sense of him is that he would be a fairly typical councillor and offer little in terms of making Nanaimo sustainable. 6/10
Alexis Taylor Middleton seems to have done her homework on how to make the city more sustainable (see her responses at the One Nanaimo website, https://www.ournanaimo.com/index.php/question-1/). She would not likely get into conflicts with other councillors as she seems not to be pushy. I would have preferred to see her be more assertive at the Chamber/YPN event. She seemed shy to pull the microphone toward herself well enough to get a good sound quality. Her closing remark showed some passion. 5+/10
Kelly Whiteside is a young adult who was unfortunately unable to attend either all candidate event due to work commitments. She says of herself that she is “a young, queer woman: a voice/face rarely seen in politics” (https://www.ournanaimo.com/index.php/question-6/) and that she is even-handed and independent https://www.ournanaimo.com/index.php/question-3rd/. Her focus is primarily on downtown revitalisation, infrastructure, good governance and an improved active transportation (see http://www.nanaimonet.com/435251043). Not enough information to give a score but at least 5/10.
Leon Cake: Into charities, hockey, instrumental in saving the colliery dams, seems willing to listen to the residents; wants to greatly reduce in camera meetings; ask tough questions of staff (he had passion and people responded well). Likely a fiscal conservative. He doesn’t seem to know much about how to make us more sustainable. In his responses to the Greater Nanaimo Cycling Coalition’s survey in the last general election (http://www.bikesense.org/elections/councillors/councillor-candidates/content/LeonCake.pdf) he seemed interested in learning more about active transportation and supporting some positive changes. Has he learned anything more about the importance of active transportation now three years later? A lack of his participation on Our Nanaimo’s website makes rating him not possible.
Brunie Brunie and Al Thompson interestingly are the two eldest and the most colourful candidates. They are worlds apart, however, when it comes to sustainability. Examples: for economic development Brunie supports greenhouses that utilise solar energy while Al would burn “garbage” to heat them. Brunie gets around by bicycle and Al is a former truck driver who advocates the replacement of the railway with a paved surface meant for seniors in scooters.
In 2014 city residents were very clear in their opposition to burning waste resources (aka “garbage”) near the city. Al seems unaware of this. No candidate seems to be aware that waste resources can be used to create local employment (as have other municipalities around the world), creating far more jobs than either dumping or burning. I do not believe they could improve the atmosphere at the Council chambers.