Sooke News Mirror
The first opportunity for council candidates to answer questions from the public happened on Thursday night, October 30.
All candidates for both mayor and council met at the Sooke Community Hall for an evening of questions and answers from a room full of about 120 people. It was standing room only, which pointed to the obvious – people wanted to see how each candidate conducted themselves and responded to questions.
Each had their turn to make a brief opening statement. In attendance were mayoral candidates Maja Tait and Herb Haldane. Vying for council were: Incumbents Bev Berger, Rick Kasper, Kevin Pearson and Kerrie Reay. New faces running for councillor include; Jeff Bateman, Justin Hanson, Ebony Logins, Brenda Parkinson, Kel Phair and Mark Whiteson. Mayoral candidate David Shebib did not attend.
The first question from the public came from Ellen Lewers who asked if the candidates felt they were capable of looking after such things as upcoming sewer, staff and the Prestige contracts, and the roundabout. Each of the candidates said they felt capable and those without experience on council said they were willing to listen and learn from the professional staff at the municipal hall.
Other questions posed were: How would you curb the excessive wages being paid at the municipal level?
Both Haldane and Tait stated that council had taken great steps to curb and contain wages.
Margarita Dominquez came to the mic asking why council would not give SAFARS land for a cat shelter. Basically each of the candidates stated that they could not give or rent land when there was none, and this would set a precedent.
When asked if some of the public standing committees would be reinstated, all of the candidates said yes.
Haldane and Tait were asked how much time they would be able to dedicate if they were both working full time.
Tait answered first saying that 80 per cent of people in Sooke work in Victoria and she had a very flexible schedule which allows her to work from home, tele-commute, and respond via modern technology such as email or text. She said she would meet with residents on Saturdays.
Haldane said that even as a councillor and working he went to the office six or seven times a week and he would be able to spend a lot of time in the office.
All candidates said they were team players and would work together when asked by Deb Johnston what character traits would make them a good leader.
Gail Hall asked Haldane if he ever gained financially for projects he voted for on council. He said no he had never gained financially.
Other questions relating to more engagement with the T’Sou-ke First Nation, how would Sooke benefit from amalgamation, how can people get together in Sooke at an indoor space and what would be done with the proposed 2 per cent hotel tax – and how can it benefit tourism and youth? Sewers on Kaltasin and what their passions were and investing in Sooke all drew responses from the candidates but no real answers.
The Sooke News Mirror has asked each of the councillor candidates questions and their answers which appear in this issue on pages 17 and 18. The school board trustee candidates will have a brief statement in next week’s edition (November 12).