All of the candidates running for council in the District of Sooke were at a meeting hosted by the Sooke Community Development Association at the community hall on Oct. 18.
The small dining room was full of people who came out to listen to what the 12 council and two mayoral candidates had to say.
Moderator Adrian Cownden was in charge of keeping people and timelines in order.
“Let’s see what we can learn from our candidates who will guide us for the next three years,” said Cownden at the start of the three-hour meeting.
Each of the candidates were asked to make a brief statement as to their priorities.
The candidates were seated alphabetically and spoke in the same order.
Mayoral candidate Dave Bennett listed a number of issues facing the community and these included population growth and the need for jobs. Transportation on Hwy. 14 as well as the E&N railroad and a new connector route in Sooke were mentioned. Housing, the town centre plan and safety were covered.
“I am a man of action,” said Bennett.
Incumbent councillor Sheila Beech spoke of housing starts and affordability and the need to develop the downtown core.
“Sustainability is an important word for people who live and work in Sooke,” said Beech. She also mentioned her “vision” of Sooke as being a visible arts community.
Incumbent councillor Bev Berger said her past three years on council has been “exciting as well as frustrating.” She realized that she could not singlehandedly change things as council consisted of seven different people with seven different perspectives.
Moonfist-Myke Colbert said, “I’m a little different in a different way.” He said he saw things in the community in regard to communication. He trusts district administration top to bottom and said, “we’re a unit.” He spoke of energy and strength, unity and respect.
“I’m really clear as to what is wholesome,” he stated.
Incumbent councillor Ron Dumont said industry and commerce were necessary for the tax base in Sooke. He said infrastructure was important to encourage people to come to Sooke. He sees Sooke as a centre of a commercial area.
Herb Haldane, incumbent councillor, spoke of democracy and differences of opinion on council.
“Seven people will not always agree,” said Haldane.
He said he did his homework and honesty and integrity were at the forefront of importance.
Rick Kasper, former Sooke councillor, said the first step in this community was conversation and establishing trust and transparency of how business is done in Sooke.
“It’s about doing the right thing for the community as a whole,” he said. He said he wanted to “get people involved to help us make the right decisions.”
Terrance Martin, council and school board trustee candidate, mentioned growth as one the most important issues in Sooke. He said projected growth has not materialized and the spending in anticipation of that growth was not wise.
“You cannot tax your way to prosperity,” he said.
Mayoral candidate Wendal Milne spoke of his experience in managing people, budgets and dealing with conflict resolution. He believes in a council that cooperates and respects the people’s right to ask questions. He thinks the district has done enough “studies” and now it is time to implement some of the plans. He said growth is Sooke is only possible along side affordability.
Jim Mitchell said this is a really important election for Sooke stating that getting finances in order was paramount. He said that borrowing money at the beginning of the year and waiting until June to pay it back was the same “as going to Money Mart for a pay day loan.” “Spending is totally out of control,” he said. “What do we have for our taxes?”
Kevin Pearson said he wanted to be part of a functioning council and his priority was taxation.
“We can’t reduce them but we can promise careful spending,” he stated. He said jobs and the economy are the economic engines and there has to be affordable housing. He said he was a “process guy” and he wanted a transparent and fair council.
Kerrie Reay decided to run because decisions made by council have a huge impact on our daily lives. Making tough decisions, listening to both sides and making the best decisions for Sooke and the people of Sooke were important to her. She said council needed respectful problem solving even though everyone might not agree.
Shaunna Salsman, said Sooke is a young municipality and it can be at the forefront by investing in youth and the environment. “We have new development, higher taxes and still no new sidewalks,” she said. Mentioned as well was the need for financial restraint, necessary growth and the need for keeping an open mind.
Maja Tait, incumbent councillor, said she intends to work harder and considers council a team that “plays well together.” Her past three years on council has given her a deep appreciation for the residents in Sooke and an insight into the concerns of the community. She thinks it is important to access grants, investment and funding from other levels of government.