With 40 council candidates picking people is a daunting task! Thankfully many of these candidates are excellent.
With no reservation my top three picks are Erin Hemmens (which is why I am on her campaign team), Tyler Brown and Ben Geselbracht. Why them? Because:
Erin is an amazing team builder. That would be enough reason to pick her on its own. But she is insightful, wise, caring, community-minded, an excellent listener who sees the strengths in others. And more, such as knowing how to work with difficult people.
Tyler I do not know nearly as well, but what he brings in terms of the practical knowledge of how we can become a far better city is totally invaluable. He is young, smart, a team-player, insightful, a straight-shooter, able to hold people accountable, yet caring.
Ben is a passionate community guy who knows how to improve our city where it counts. He cares about people, listens well, is a great team player, and has tons of wisdom. He would help us become a more caring and community-minded city that is more responsible for its waste management and environment. And he knows how to work with difficult people.
I tend not to vote for incumbents as they more easily get re-elected based on name recognition. Given that three of the five highly destructive councillors (“the famous five”) have wisely decided not to run for re-election, and with Diane Brennan not seeking re-election (it’s amazing that she lasted the full four years given how she was treated!), most of the Council will have fresh faces. Wendy Pratt (who resigned after her experience of the five + Tracy Samra) might get re-elected but I’m not holding my breath. It is highly likely that the two of “the five” that dared to run again (Gordon Fuller and Jerry Hong) will not survive the huge amount of anger over how this Council has been run. The fact that they are running suggests to me that they are out of touch with Nanaimo’s citizens. There is lots of evidence of this, such as the so-called Event Centre debacle and the loss of the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange (with special kudus to Mr. Hong for stick-handling its demise). If any incumbent deserves to be re-elected I would give a nod to Sheryl Armstrong. While I think she messed up with the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange (she stayed safe rather than to seek a way to make things work with the City) she seems to be better understanding the importance of transportation apart from the single-occupancy motor vehicle. Ian Thorpe is a very diligent Councillor and did well to avoid being be-headed by the famous five. He is a good and honest administrator, but does not seem to have the vision I think Nanaimo needs.
Utilising the handy candidates checklist provided by Our Nanaimo (https://www.ournanaimo.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Candidate-Evaluation-Tool.pdf) I have rated my top picks based on what I know of them. In a number of cases my numbers are only a guess as I only spent a limited time with some of them, and find that I do not trust all the words provided to us from their websites.
Here is my ranking, from top down:
Darcy Olsen –I got to know her quite well when we both ran in the city’s by-election 7 years ago. She has many of the gifts our city needs, including being passionate, caring, a team player, bright, knowledgeable and more. I suspect that Zeni Maartman is similar (I think they are quite similar in many regards). I suspect Zeni will do better due to name recognition but I know Darcy better.
Alexis Petersen –others drew my attention to this determined and capable woman. She has a strong sense of who she is and what she can do for the city. She seems to know how to navigate through conflict having done this for most of her career as a social worker.
Don Bonner –a highly engaged community member, giving to non-profits, highly responsive, bright, has an indigenous background, and is a team player. I think he made a bad call in supporting metro Vancouver’s incinerator at Duke Point but seems to be able to learn from his mistakes.
Michael Ribicic –a political science student who is very promising, even if he likes Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals. He says he is not interested in going on to provincial or federal politics (as did our last youth councillor) but if he is elected I strongly suspect he will be wooed. If he does go on I can only hope that he considers the Green Party as I suspect it more closely aligns with his values. In the meantime he would bring a needed young adult perspective to Council.
No surprise that my ranking of the above favours women, indigenous and youth. I am done with voting for older white males (of which I am one!). In my opinion most of them have no idea what kind of leadership Nanaimo needs.
This leaves one more to complete the 8 seats.
Peter Kent is on the top of my honourable mention list because if we lose most (or, especially, all) of the incumbents we will sorely need his current and practical and visionary leadership. He is currently a Councillor on the Sunshine coast and understands what a municipality needs and how to stick-handle our way to increasing funding from senior governments. He does not know much about Nanaimo today but my sense of him is that he would learn very quickly.
In no particular order here are other candidates worthy of consideration: Guy Beaulieu, Rae Kornberger, Jim Turley, Peter Urquhart and Trent Whaley. I give special mention to Trent as he alone did not use any plastic in his campaign materials. He knows the issues and has a vision I totally appreciate. Peter is an amazing data analyser and a community guy. Jim Turley is a retired business man and very caring toward our city. Rae is a passionate individual and community volunteer who knows the issues better than most of the candidates. And she is one more female pick. Guy is a really lovely, gentle, man who seems to have a good grasp on the city’s issues and who has a sense of where we need to go. Mr. Loos needs to get more involved in the city and run again. He has real potential.
I would avoid candidates who come off as being a “saviour” of the council. In my opinion most of them are not team-players. Some are very knowledgeable (and if you don’t know that they will quickly convince you!) but whose egos in my opinion are as large as their IQ’s. Don’t you think we’ve had our fill of these?
In terms of School Trustee I know of one candidate who is not an incumbent, who has earned my trust: Lisa Marie Barron. I rarely vote for an incumbent, but will vote for Ms. Brzovic. I suspect that the experienced Jessica Stanley (a current trustee from the Vancouver area) would be solid.
What's most important is that we get out to vote! October 20th. For a better Nanaimo and region! For more info on how to do that visit the city's website: