CIVIC BYELECTION: Comments from the candidates

Nine running for one spot on Sooke council; election Sept. 28

In an effort to help voters learn more about the people running in the Sept. 28 Sooke civic byelection, the Sooke News Mirror asked candidates a few questions. Here are their responses:

Lorraine Pawlivsky-Love

Lorraine moved to Greater Victoria in 1994 and has worked in journalism and the arts. She’s been active in the arts, operated a small ranch and a home-based art gallery. Lorraine moved to Sooke in 2017 and joined the District of Sooke’s Program for the Arts. She is also active as a visual arts communications project manager for digital and print, social media interaction and collaboration.

1. What is the single biggest challenge facing the municipality?

Managing the socio-economic issues that have created “growing pains” for the District of Sooke including a rapidly growing population that share similar values impacting accessibility locally to supports including health care, education, employment, age-related dependent care needs, recreation/tourism, and most importantly maintaining and increasing the support for arts and culture. [Former councillor] Brenda Parkinson developed a strong relationship between the citizens and organizations that have assisted in the District of Sooke becoming stellar for its support of arts and cultural sustainability.

2. How will you try to solve that problem?

I will continue councillor Parkinson’s legacy establishing for Sooke’s sustainable arts and culture community as well as the collaborative expectations the position District of Sooke has. I view the councillor’s position as a life’s work that will involve research, attending and participating in the community, CRD and regional initiatives to support increased socio-economic sustainability due to the increases in population.

3. Why should people vote for you?

Continuing the valuable achievements Coun. Parkinson made will be a continuation of my ongoing work. Sooke Program of the Arts invited my participation so that will continue. As well, I am a property owner/taxpayer, art educator/communications consultant and local volunteer invested in continuing increases in citizen community participation. Creating neighbourhood associations is a must, as well as a Sooke Business Improvement Association (SBIA) to promote, assist, and respond to local business burdens and concerns. Post-secondary education satellite campuses, establishing a small hospital/rehabilitation facility and providing incentives for increased local employment are just a few of my hopes.

Britt Santowski

Britt is 54 years old and has lived in Sooke since 2005. Her political experience comes through documenting Sooke politics through the Sooke PocketNews for the past five years. In that capacity, she has attended and reported on 99 percent of all council meetings and committee-of-the-whole meetings. Britt has also served as a member of the district’s housing committee, and through the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce where she has volunteered for the past two years.

1. What is the single biggest challenge facing the municipality?

Growth is coming. We can let this growth define us and react to it after it arrived. Or, we can anticipate growth and plan (via OCP) for a drive-to (no drive-through) town core built with a vibrant, picturesque and sustainable future in mind. I support the latter.

2. How will you try to solve that problem?

My voice at the council table will ensure that the council keeps smart growth in mind when considering policies and bylaws that shape our town. I also plan to ensure that Sooke does a much, much better job of keeping its primary stakeholders informed and engaged.

3. Why should people vote for you?

As a reporter, I’ve attended most council meeting for the past five years. As an entrepreneur and resident, I understand the challenges of Sooke’s current limited economic opportunities. As acting president of the chamber, I am committed to creating economic growth. As a mother, I’m committed to a sustainable future.

Herb Haldane

A local developer, Herb served two terms on Sooke council in 2008 and 2014. He has also previously served as a director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. A vocal critic of the current council, Herb has appeared before council on several occasions. Herb ran for council in 2018, missing out on election by just over 300 votes.

1. What is the single biggest challenge facing the municipality?

The biggest challenge is the cost of living affordability.

2. How will you try to solve that problem?

To tackle that issue we need to curb our municipal spending and create more commercial revenues to offset residential taxes. Many people, but most of all young people, can’t afford the high cost of housing. We need to have an implementation plan for affordable housing that actually works.

3. Why should people vote for you?

People should vote for me because I am not afraid to get things done, and will not hide the truths from the public. How many more fish hatchery closures and cover-ups are we going to have?

Mick Rhodes

Mick Rhodes, a retired taxi driver, is vying for a seat on Sooke council after his unsuccessful bid for the mayor’s seat in 2018. Mick moved back to Sooke in 2009 and has been an avid council watcher and advocate for stemming what he has described as the unfettered growth of Sooke. Mick is also well known for his advocacy for the creation of a waterfront park in Sooke.

1. What is the single biggest challenge facing the municipality?

The intransigent inertia of Sooke council that they would forgo the opportunity to engage in dialogue with Rowanwood Capital Corporation about acquiring from them the waterfront land parcels; so as to create a DOS public waterfront central park/plaza. Many levels of government would obligingly assist the district in securing funding.

2. How, specifically, will you try to solve that problem?

My first motion would address the council to consider instructing district staff to prepare a feasibility study report for acquiring the Rowanwood waterfront properties. Afterwards, we’d’ begin a dialogue with Rowanwood and consult other levels of government to assist with funding the ‘Heart of Sooke” land acquisition.

3. Why should people vote for you?

I’m a straight shooter and try to be as transparent as can be when engaged in conversation. I believe you can always find the truth somewhere lying between reason and reality; which can then lead you to understand another person’s POV. Respect and integrity go a long way to reaching a mutual agreement.

Kevin Pearson

Kevin Pearson, 61, is a senior manager with Canada Post. He served two terms on Sooke council (2011 and 2014), but lost out in a 2018 bid for the mayor’s seat. In the past, Kevin has expressed some frustration at the lack of action by Sooke Council and remains an active participant in community affairs.

1. What is the single biggest challenge facing the municipality?

Capacity to service the population growth. Safety, protective services both fire and police, heath care, infrastructure, guaranteed access in and out of Sooke, sewer, piped water, access and mobility and for seniors, and youth services – we need to ensure adequate access to all. All of these pressures on value, mean taxes will increase. So attention to our budget is essential.

2. How will you try to solve that problem?

Encourage through the official community plan, job creation by structurally increasing the industrial/business tax base. This means working with appropriate landowners to create business and industrial park areas. Encourage and remove red tape in the business application process, ensure a top priority is the access in and out of Sooke has an alternate route in the case of disruption or closure, put pressure on the province to improve the safety of our Highway 14. Respect for our environment in all decisions.

3. Why should people vote for you?

People should vote for me for my love of our community. I am pragmatic, proven results-oriented. Progressive thinking, I am collaborative and will always support positive dialogue and look forward to working with this mayor and council and hopefully bring my sense of humour and friendly approach to our great community.

Dana Lejeunesse

At 56 years of age, Dana spent 24 years working in the post-secondary environment. He served on the official community plan review committee in 2007 and on the accessibility and economic development committees in 2008. He was also a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Panel for Economic Development. Dana is a life-long resident of Sooke.

1. What is the single biggest challenge facing the municipality?

I believe that our most pressing issue in Sooke is the absence of economic development. We cannot properly realize our full potential as a vibrant community until this is resolved.

2. How will you try to solve that problem?

Work with council and staff to direct policies that will provide existing industrial properties with the infrastructure necessary to attract higher yield business opportunities while also minimizing environmental impact. The captive audience this will provide will, in turn, increase retail and tourism opportunities locally.

3. Why should people vote for you?

A vote for me means your voice will be heard. I will work respectfully with council and staff to ensure that Sooke maintains its historical status as an independent community that welcomes all visitors and remains a safe place that we are proud to call home.

Jeff Stewart

Jeff Stewart is 44 years of age and has lived his entire life in Sooke. He served as a district councillor in the inaugural council after incorporation in 1999. He has worked with the Sooke Place Housing Society, and says that he would bring a deep understanding of the issues affecting housing in the community. Jeff is an active volunteer in the community and spends much of his time coaching youth sports teams.

1. What is the single biggest challenge facing the municipality?

The rapidly rising cost of Sooke’s municipal governance, leading to a projected 30 per cent tax increase over the next five years. If we continually increase property taxes faster than our family’s incomes, these families will not be here to afford and enjoy the very services our local government is providing.

2. How will you try to solve that problem?

I will work with council and the chief administrative officer to find ways of controlling spending where we can and to limit expenditures to District needs vs. wants. I will also examine where the District can maximize its income streams with appropriate land use planning, and seek to build partnerships with community organizations.

3. Why should people vote for you?

I believe my management skills and municipal experience would be an asset for the current council in its present and future challenges. By supporting my bid for council, you will be electing a fiscally responsible, progressive thinking municipal councillor.

Christina Schlattner

Christina Schlattner, 57, and moved to Sooke 14 years ago with her husband and son. She operates a small local business. Christina ran the Youth Business and Entrepreneurship Training Program on Vancouver Island through the provincial Ministry of Small Business Development. She’so worked with three First Nations on community development, bringing together various stakeholders – governments, business, non-profit and education. She has also consulted for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to develop best practices for community projects.

1. What is the single biggest challenge facing the municipality?

Sooke residents are seriously concerned about the type and speed of growth we’re experiencing. There’s a gap between what people say they want for our community and some of the directions we’re headed. Our official community plan will be renewed next year — we need broad engagement to get it right.

2. How will you try to solve that problem?

Council must stand strong for the Sooke values expressed in our official community plan. The top values are — environment, community and local business. Let’s protect our wild beauty and small-town charm with modern bylaws, teeth for the OCP, support for local business and respect for the people of Sooke.

3. Why should people vote for you?

The strengths I bring to tackle these issues include 27 years of business experience in training, public consultation, and community development. I have worked with several levels of government, including First Nations, on projects involving multiple stakeholders. I know how to find common ground from which to move forward.

ALSO READ: Sooke councillor Brenda Parkinson dies

ALSO READ: Council candidate withdraws from race

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