Opinion: Local Community Commission campaign culmination

I began writing about this campaign back in February, when our local newspaper ran an opinion piece that I wrote about the task ahead for the Local Community Commission (LCC). And I’ve kept doing so as I decided to put my name forward for one of the four commissioner spots due to be filled on May 27.

I’ve been writing about the LCC because I really care about it. I started working toward this election back in 2017, when islanders voted again to remain an unincorporated community. I said many times during conversations about the referendum that – regardless of the outcome of that vote – there were ways we could significantly improve decision-making about local government services here on Salt Spring. For an unincorporated area, that’s what an LCC can provide. And in a few days, we will know who will be sitting in those commissioner chairs to start making that happen.

Regardless of who gets elected on May 27, we will broaden elected representation, with our local government positions increased from three to seven. Regardless of what priorities our new elected representatives bring to the table, we will see increased coordination of decision-making due to the relatively large number of services that will be handled by the LCC.

Why I Am Running

I put my name forward because I want the LCC to be a success. I am concerned that several of the candidates do not seem to know what the LCC is responsible for. I have been as quick as any to raise the issue of housing, but at the same time, I am acquainted – in some cases thoroughly – with the 14 services that are explicitly on the LCC agenda. With some of the other candidates, I worry about how much they will have to contribute when the topic turns to liquid waste or pathways and trails, the Fernwood Dock or racquet sports courts, or so many other issues.

With only four commissioners plus our electoral area director, we can’t afford to elect several single-issue candidates. Instead, we need commissioners who have a broad perspective, an understanding of the services we have and the potential for future change. I believe I have that kind of well-rounded perspective.

If elected, I will work hard to make sure our new LCC lives up to its potential. I don’t expect that to be easy, but I am certain it can be done and I’m committed to three and a half years of hard work if I am elected.

Who I Support

There are 15 candidates, including some with good knowledge in certain areas. All, I hope, have good intentions. I have been asked many times during the campaign to give my assessment of the other candidates. Rather than reviewing them all here, I will simply say that there are three others who I hope you will support, as I do.

Gayle Baker has been involved in the work to establish this LCC for as long as I have. She is well known in the community for her organizing of weekly ASK Salt Spring meetings as well as her service as chair of the now-former Transportation Commission. While I don’t agree with Gaye on every issue, I strongly support her candidacy, as she has extensive experience and knowledge, boundless energy and a commitment to working productively with others.

Earl Rook is another candidate who I support. A few weeks ago, I had never met Earl, as his extensive community involvement (gardening club, several music organizations in the community and the sailing club) has never intersected with my own. I’m glad a mutual acquaintance encouraged Gayle and me to meet Earl and discuss our visions for the LCC. What we found is similar views on issues and a very clear commitment by Earl to master some of the less sexy but highly important areas of the LCC< including review of the complex budgets. Earl is thoughtful and level-headed, a good listener and always respectful of others. His many years of experience in budgeting and administration position him well to play a constructive role on the LCC.

The third candidate I support of Jennifer Lannan. Jennifer is a Ganges business owner, an active community volunteer and a mother of three children currently in our school system. Like Earl, she is thoughtful, smart and a good listener. She has good knowledge of issues such as child care and the needs of downtown Ganges. I believe she compliments the skills, knowledge and interests of Earl, Gayle and me.

I believe Baker, Lannan, Rock and Webster would make a good team with Gary Holman on the LCC, able to hit the ground running and start making good decisions right away. There is a lot to do, a lot of issues concerning Salt Springers that need attention now, not some time in the future when LCC members get up to speed.

Please Vote!

Important though it is to me for particular candidates to get elected to the LCC, the most important thing of all is for everyone to get out and vote. Sure, with a special election at an unusual time of year, it’s possible that the turnout will be quite low. I hope that’s not what happens and the best way to make that a non-issue is for everyone to get out to vote.

Whether you support me or not, please vote on May 24 or May 27.