He’s been covering and involved in politics for decades, and now Ian Jessop wants to bring that experience to Saanich council.
Jessop says he wants to bring a collaborative approach to dealing with issues such as housing, transportation and business investment.
“In order to deal with the increase in population, what do we need to do in Saanich? I don’t have the answer, but a collective group of people discussing this issue may come up with some very interesting answers,” said the 71-year-old longtime broadcaster, legislative reporter and former press secretary to Premier Bill Vander Zalm.
“There has to be a discussion, and the discussion has to involve developers, it has to involve the community and it has to involve the young people too. Many of them can’t afford a house with a picket fence, and talking to them, many of them don’t want that.”
Jessop says he’s seeking a seat on council to support Mayor Richard Atwell, who he feels has found himself at odds with the rest of council.
“This term there’s been a divisive tone on council. I think the initiatives that have been brought forward by the mayor have been stymied by opponents on council who still favour the previous regime.”
He points to the Watkiss Way sewage treatment proposal that council prevented from going to CRD for consideration, as well as the Spyware scandal that found the municipality was improperly monitoring the mayor’s and other computers at City Hall.
“I think there still is pushback by senior management in the municipality against Richard Atwell’s leadership,” said Jessop.
In calling for more openness and transparency, he was also critical of the number of issues dealt with in-camera by council.
“I would like to see more debate in public about issues that council sometimes hide in private,” said Jessop, adding that council seems to use in-camera sessions to “get their stories straight” in order to promote a unified front.
He says the lack of public access has been amplified by the cuts to many media companies, pointing out that many news outlets used to cover Saanich council meetings.
“Now, it’s just the Saanich News covering Saanich and the rest of the media only do it when a controversial issue comes forward.”
While Jessop lives in Victoria, he doesn’t feel that should be an issue that concerns voters.
“Considering Marianne Alto, Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Margaret Lucas are members of Victoria council and live outside the municipality, I don’t think it’s an issue,” said Jessop, who was quick to answer why he isn’t running in Victoria.
“Victoria is a gong show,” he said with a hearty laugh. “It’s a bigger gong show than Saanich, I’ll tell you that.
“The bottom line is a better community for everyone. I would like to see Saanich strive to become the most efficient, cost-effective municipality in British Columbia.”
Jessop joins Kathleen Burton, Nathalie Chambers, Rebecca Mersereau, Ned Taylor, Zac de Vries and Teale Phelps-Bondaroff in challenging incumbents Colin Plant, Susan Brice, Judy Brownoff and Karen Harper for a seat on council. Coun. Fred Haynes is challenging Atwell in the race for mayor, while Dean Murdock, Leif Wergeland and Vicki Sanders have announced they will not seek re-election.