UPDATED: Saanich byelection candidates consider second public forum

All 10 candidates in Saanich byelection will be at Sept. 12 forum

Saanich residents may get a second chance to hear from the 10 candidates running to fill the open seat on council.

Rebecca Mersereau – one of the 10 candidates running – said she would like to see a second forum and has offered to co-organize it with the other candidates.

The call for a second debate come after organizers confirmed all 10 candidates will take part in the forum scheduled for Sept. 12.

“I believe there is sufficient interest in the byelection to warrant a second all candidates’ event to give voters a chance to meet us and learn more about our priorities,” said Mersereau. “There was standing room only at all nine all-candidates’ events in 2014, and I’m certain this high level of interest will be carried forward.”

She said Sunday morning that six out of 10 candidates are interested in co-hosting the event.

“Two are maybes, and two have not yet replied,” she said. “Given that the majority are in and that would make for a valuable chance for residents to inform their votes, I think I will suggest to the group that we proceed even if no other candidates are able to join.”

Nathalie Chambers, Keith Davidoff, Michael Geoghegan, Karen Harper, Marsha Henderson, Shawn Newby, Art Pollard, Ned Taylor and Rob Wickson are also running for the seat that has been open since the death of Vic Derman in March 2017.

Organizers are hoping for a good crowd at the forum which will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 12 at St. Aidan’s United Church. Deborah Curran, acting executive director of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, will moderate.

The forum matters because it will give citizens a chance to see one of their future representatives in the flesh, said John Schmuck, spokesperson for the organizing committee, which consists out of representatives from five community associations.

“The most important is to see how these people present their views and get a picture of who they are,” he said.

Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association, Mount Tolmie Community Association, Camosun Community Association, Cadboro Bay Residents Association and Gordon Head Residents Associations are organizing the evening, which opens with a meet-and-greet from 6:30 to 7 p.m.

Schmuck said organizers could not be more thrilled to have Curran as moderator for the two-hour debate because she will keep the focus on the candidates.

“We want to make sure candidates have an opportunity to present themselves,” said Schmuck.

Camosun Community Association vice-president Caleb Horn said the byelection is important because the winning candidate will sit on council for a full year, adding many of the candidates are likely planning to run again in the 2018 municipal election.

“I can’t speak for the other community associations, but our goal at the [Camosun Community Association] is to raise awareness about the upcoming [byelection] and provide an opportunity for voters to find out more about the candidates,” he said.

Advance voting will take place on Sept. 13 and 18 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Saanich Municipal Hall. General voting will take place on Sept. 23 at Cedar Hill rec centre, Gordon Head rec centre, Pearkes rec centre and Saanich Commonwealth Place.