Coun. Vicki Sanders announced she will not run for re-election, ending her tenure on Saanich council with four terms over 14 years (2005 to 2018).
The news comes eight days after 22-year Saanich council veteran, Coun. Leif Wergeland, announced the same thing. With Coun. Dean Murdock also stepping away from municipal politics and Coun. Fred Haynes seeking the mayor’s seat, it means at least four of the eight Saanich council seats will feature new candidates at the Oct. 20 general election. As it stands, Couns. Judy Brownoff, Susan Brice, Colin Plant and Karen Harper have said they will seek re-election.
“I’m not one to sit at home and watch the webcast, I’ll be there, and that’s one of my disappointments, there haven’t been many people in the council seats,” she said. “I’m not going away. I’ve been monitoring council meetings for 40 years and if there’s an issue I’ll come to speak to council, I’ve already warned them of that. I wasn’t just on council to be on council, it’s because I care about Saanich, all of it, and I’m still very friendly with the grassroots community members who stay involved and aware of what’s happening.”
Sanders thanked the voters of Saanich, her family and other councillors (notably Brownoff, Brice and Wergeland, who’ve been with her since 2005) in her announcement on Facebook. Sanders said she’ll renew her membership with Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association, which she helped establish in 1996 and later acted as president from 2000 until she joined council in 2005. During that time Sanders was also the chair of the Saanich Community Association Network.
As a councillor Sanders also served on the CRD board as commissioner of the regional water supply commission and as a member on the arts, climate change action and solid waste advisory committees.
“I thank Saanich voters for their continued support… It has been my privilege to serve.”
For Sanders, it’s about the four year commitment. Her first three terms were each three years, and she’s not ready to commit to another four years, adding she’s unsure if the four-year term has been the best model.
“Right now I’m ready to go for another year but for three or four years, I’m not sure I’m ready for that right now,” she said. “In a three-year term, you have to work your little butt off, you get into your committees and do what you want to do before that third year comes, because that’s when people start preparing to run again. So it’s packed into a smaller time frame, and I thought it was more productive.”
Similarly, Wergeland said he reconsidered another four year term as he got closer to the election.
While Sanders steered away from how functional Saanich council has become since Frank Leonard was ousted in 2014, Wergeland admitted it’s been a lot different.
“There’s always good that comes out of it, as councillors we got to know each other in a different way that was positive,” Wergeland said. “[Mayor Richard Atwell] was different from the previous mayor, and the election coming up will be interesting to see as far as the mayor’s go, who does get in.”
Despite not returning to council Wergeland wouldn’t endorse either Haynes or Atwell for mayor.
“Again it’s a different situation, both have positives and negatives,” Wergeland said. “I wish it was an easier decision but at this point it isn’t, more and more, the public should become more, and more, aware, of who they are electing to office.
“I told my friends you have to look around the community to see who you want [on council] and talk them into running. If we don’t start doing that we’ll have more and more issues on council. The work of council is becoming more complicated, and I’m not sure that’s going to change, need good people and strong leadership in there”
Just as Sanders will be around, so will Wergeland, who hopes to sit down with each of the new councillors elected in October to see what their plan is for Saanich, and to share his experience, if needed.