NANAIMO — It appears four tumultuous years of civic governance in Nanaimo has inspired many political dreams.
The City of Nanaimo officially declared the candidates for the Oct. 20 municipal election Friday afternoon. Four candidates will vie for the mayor's chair, while 40 people entered the race for the eight council seats. The list may still change, as candidates have until Sept. 21 to withdraw from the ballot.
The highly-anticipated election drew several familiar names, including longtime former mayor Gary Korpan, who will seek a council seat, as well as former councillor Jeet Manhas. A Nanaimo ballot wouldn't be complete without an appearance from offbeat candidate Brunie Brunie, who is in the race once again.
Alex Netherton, a professor in Vancouver Island University's political studies department and Nanaimo resident since 2006, said Nanaimo voters are mainly yearning for good governance.
"We simply don't want a repeat of what occurred in the past four years," Netherton told NanaimoNewsNOW. "It was kind of like a tragic three act play. It resolved itself a little in the end, with the former chief administrative officer being dismissed. Some of the major ideas of the notorious gang of five simply blew up in their face. In a way I'm glad that occurred before the election."
The 40 declared candidates is the largest number since 2005, when 39 ran for Nanaimo council. In 2014, the last election, there were 26 and 10 for mayor.
Netherton said typically a large pool of candidates in a municipal election favours an incumbent, but that's not necessarily the case this year.
"The incumbents from this last council, by nature, don't have an advantage. They may have some name recognition but if you say 'I'm from the last council' most people will just shrug.
"We need a mayor and council that works together, I think that's clear and that message has been sent," Netherton said.
Municipal elections in Nanaimo, like many B.C. communities, are infamous for paltry voter turnout. In 2014, 34.1 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, up from 26.9 in 2011.
While it's difficult to inspire surges in turnout, Netherton predicted another increase.
"I really do think turnout will go up again this year simply because people are tired of this melodrama and they want to put a stamp on it. I think it's a re-ownership of the city," he said, adding he's "quite struck" by how much Nanaimo residents buy into their community.
With a large pool to choose from and a shortened campaign, Netherton said it will be challenging for candidates to distinguish themselves from others.
"These people get elected on three to five per cent of the vote. That's a huge problem."
As for the main issues at play in this election, there's predictable conversation about housing, homelessness and tent city. Netherton said in his review of early platforms, he's surprised at the lack of conversation around economic development.
"Are we content with our level of economic development? I thought that was a real statement that topic is absent in many platforms I've been able to review."
Netherton said it's an important election cycle around B.C. as municipal governments take on an increased importance in the face of senior governments downloading issues and spending.
"(Municipalities) have to rely on property taxes and they end up too closely tied to developers and dependent on rising property values. That kind of imbalance is something that needs to be addressed."
The City will hold two days of advanced polls, on Oct. 10 and Oct. 17 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Bowen Park. There will be 12 voting locations on Oct. 20.
The Chamber of Commerce is hosting an all candidate fair from 6 to 7:45 p.m. on Oct. 9 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, followed by a mayoral debate from 8 to 9 p.m.
- Farmere, Raymon
- Hubbard, Don
- Jordan, Eike Michaela
- Krog, Leonard
- Armstrong, Sheryl Dawn
- Beaulieu, Guy
- Bonner, Don
- Breuker, Bob J
- Brown, Tyler
- Brunie, Brunie
- Fuller, Gordon W
- Geselbract, Ben
- Gouda, Pelé Lawrence Ramses
- Hemmens, Erin
- Hong, Jerry
- Kent, Peter Harris
- Kornberger, Rae
- Korpan, Gary Richard
- Loos, Brian
- Maartman, Zeni
- MacIlquham, Lloyd
- Manhas, Jeet
- Manners, Bill
- Olsen, Darcy
- Osborn, Ken
- Peach, Conrad
- Petersen, Alexis
- Pratt, Wendy
- Ribicic, Michael
- Routley, Noah
- Scott, Richard Douglas
- Simpson, David
- Smith, Norm
- Smith, Rick
- Statham, Fred
- Storrie, Kevin B
- Thammanna, Balakrishna (Viraat)
- Thompson, Al
- Thorpe, Ian
- Turley, Jim
- Turnip, Avel
- Urquhart, Peter
- Whaley, Trent Renné
- Zboyovsky, Ashley Briana
On Twitter: @domabassi
— with files from Spencer Sterritt
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