Saanich’s two new councillors are humbled but excited to assume office on Dec. 1.
Colin Plant and Fred Haynes will join six incumbent councillors after Paul Gerrard and Nichola Wade lost their seats in the Nov. 15 election. Returning incumbents are Dean Murdock, Susan Brice, Vic Derman, Judy Brownoff, Vicki Sanders and Leif Wergeland. “During the campaign, most of us were so busy with our own campaigns we didn’t get to share what we had in common or how we see things differently,” Plant told Saanich News. “We’re going to be working together on behalf of residents for the next four years. The big thing right now for me is learning.”
Plant, who received the second-highest number of votes on Saturday (just three votes behind Dean Murdock’s 14,781 votes), said he knocked on about 9,500 Saanich doors and walked 780 kilometres during the campaign. Notably, he didn’t send out a single pamphlet by mail.
“I’ve probably had 100 people who said the fact I put ‘please’ on my sign was enough to get their vote. That was very interesting,” Plant said. Voters also chose Plant as one of four CRD directors, though the decision is non-binding. Councils tend to respect the vote, however.
“One of the big things I was interested in regionally was the arts,” Plant said. “That’s handled at the CRD level. So hopefully I can make it onto the arts committee and have some involvement there.”
Haynes, who received 13,492 votes to rank fifth in councillor votes, said he was honoured to receive so much support as an independent candidate.
Haynes has already reached out to incumbent councillors to discuss upcoming challenges at the District of Saanich. He hopes to engage residents on housing affordability through a pending review of the municipality’s 12 Local Area Plans, lobby higher levels of government for an expansion of energy-saving home improvement grants and continue to advance the District’s green initiatives.
Haynes said he was impressed with the sense of change he felt during the campaign and on voting day. He also recognized the well-fought campaign by Mayor-elect Richard Atwell.
“There are three new candidates on council. It could have been four, could have been five. That was the energy of change out there,” he said.
Both Plant and Haynes thanked outgoing councillors Gerrard and Wade, as well as six-term Mayor Frank Leonard, for their devotion to the community.
On Sunday, Gerrard posted to his Facebook page to his family, friends and supporters.
“I am still trying to process not being re-elected to Saanich Council, but thank you all for a great six years spent working on affordable housing, the homeless and development projects in the Greater Victoria area,” wrote Gerrard, adding he’ll now focus on his business and take a vacation with his partner. “It seems that ‘Change’ is what the electorate wanted, and I hope that whatever that change might be, that it makes Saanich an even better place than it is today.”
Wade posted a similar update on Monday to her candidate Facebook page, and praised the higher voter turnout of 35 per cent, up from 25 per cent in 2011. “Congrats to all those who ran, and most importantly, thank you to Mayor Frank Leonard for his visionary leadership, collaborative style and long term commitment to building this beautiful community,” Wade wrote. “He has been an unparalleled mentor to me. I for one, will miss his drive, vision and support.”