30th Anniversary: Former mayor calls newspaper ‘the best mirror for a community’

Murray Coell says publications like the Saanich News play an important part in their respective communities

This cartoon of Murray Coell appeared in May 29

This cartoon of Murray Coell appeared in May 29

“Murray Coell is not your stereotypical municipal office holder, something he is only too happy to point out.”

So opens the Saanich News article profiling Murray Coell following his election as mayor of Saanich.

“The newly elected mayor of Saanich is a 36-year-old bachelor who drives a jeep rather than an Oldsmobile, dresses like a businessman, but is a social worker by trade, and has ran his own business and played drums in a rock band as a student among other things.”

Framing Coell’s election as evidence for the emergence of a new generation of youthful, energetic politicians cut from a different cloth, the story with its telling personal details neatly highlights what Coell says has been increasingly missing in modern political coverage: personal contact between reporters and their subjects.

“I can say, Saanich News and its team of reporters played a very large part in my life,” said Coell. “In those days, without social media, interaction was either a phone call or ‘face-to-face’ meeting. As the years progressed, and the use of all forms of social media increased, politicians have had to adjust the use of their time accordingly.”

In fact, the piece on Coell’s election notes that Coell’s workday was the “kind of schedule best left to the young. After a daily swim, he starts work at 7 a.m. and is usually not home until 11 p.m.” And yet, the article continue, Coell “balks at being described as a ‘workaholic.’ His work with alcoholics and drug addicts has made it difficult to accept the term, even in jest.”

First elected to council in 1984, Coell served two terms as a mayor, the second by acclamation in 1993, before moving on to provincial politics, representing the riding of Saanich North and the Islands between 1996 and 2013, serving in various cabinet roles over that stretch, including minister of environment.

For all of his varied experiences, some things have remained consistent, including Coell’s long-running friendship with his eventual successor Frank Leonard, a point noted in the Saanich News’ profile of Coell.

“Coell’s friendships are strong and long-lasting,” it reads. “Among his closest friends is his colleague on council Frank Leonard. He has known Leonard for 15 years, all the way back to when they were classmates at Colquitz Junior High School.”

Looking back. Coell says publications like the Saanich News play an important part in their respective communities.

“Saanich, like other communities, sees itself through the eyes of its local paper,” he said. “Saanich News, in those days, as well as today, told the Saanich story.  What pleases me is that local papers are still, in my opinion, the best mirror for a community to look at itself and understand itself.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

Itty, a Siamese cat, has been missing since a house fire in Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood on Friday, Nov. 27. Her owner says she has white fur with blonde and grey markings. (Facebook/ROAM)
Cat goes missing after house fire in Fernwood neighbourhood

‘Itty’ has white fur, blonde and grey markings and blue eyes

The Saanich Fire Department Station #2 C-Battalion members (left to right) firefighter Clayton Tilon, firefighter Bonnie Fiala, firefighter Zay Hamilton, Capt. Dawrin Schellenberg and firefighter Charlie Rivers show off their BC Emergency Health Servicecs Vital Link Award. (Photo courtesy Darwin Schellenberg)
Saanich firefighters receive Vital Link Award from paramedics for life-saving CPR

Award issued to C-Battalion, civilian for help saving cardiac arrest patient in June

An aerial view over Oak Bay. (Black Press Media File Photo)
An aerial view over Oak Bay and the Marina. Oak Bay residents pay the highest taxes on Vancouver Island. Don Denton/Black Press
Oak Bay secondary suites study considers units old and new

Secondary suites draft report due in new year

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read