Election: Ucluelet councillors weigh in on running

Ucluetians will elect a new council this November, but new might not necessarily be the word for it.

Having banked about 20 years of council experience, Ucluelet Mayor Bill Irving doesn’t seem ready to throw in the towel just yet.

Irving’s time on council includes three terms as Mayor from 1991-2000 and he became Mayor again in 2011 after defeating incumbent Eric Russcher by a 12 percent margin, with the official score tallied at 227-202.

Irving told the Westerly he is “certainly interested in running again,” this November.

He said his time in office has been positive but acknowledged frustrations can stem from slow moving processes.

“You come to appreciate just how blessed we are as a community and the effort that people put into the community but on the flipside is that cumbersome bureaucratic process working with the Province and the Feds to move programs forward,” he said.

He added smaller issues that do not involve higher level of governments also take time to tackle as council must balance the scales of community input.

“Because you’re representing the people of this community you’ve got to make sure that they’re informed, that everything is done legally…and that things are at the standard that’s required to keep your community safe and moving forward,” he said.

“There’s a lot of issues you’ve got to tackle it’s not just simply throwing an idea out and saying ‘Let’s go for it.'” He said Ucluelet’s current council has been effective because of an early decision to establish clear goals and provide each member with specific portfolios.

“My goal particularly was that everyone understand what our common goals are, we have a clear strategy on how we’re going to get those and then, to implement those strategies, you’ve got to have people who take the lead,” he said.

“This is an excellent council…

Although they disagree on lots of things, they are always focused on a solution so inevitably a good solution comes out at the end of the process and we move on with it, we don’t sit on our hands so to speak and wait for the stars to align, we try to make the stars align.”

Corlazzoli likely to seek re-election

Coun. Dario Corlazzoli said he is leaning towards a re-election campaign and agreed with Irving about this council’s effectiveness.

“Everyone’s very focused on their portfolios and I think everyone’s doing a great job reporting back to council so I feel it’s been a good group,” he said.

“We’ve butted heads a few times but we don’t take it personally, we just carry on and I think we’ve made the right decisions and we work well together.”

Corlazzoli was first elected in 1987 and since then has notched about 23 years of municipal service into his belt.

He said he is interested in keeping old school values alive in the district office.

“There’s lots of new and exciting things coming to Ucluelet. I think we’re going to see the most change we’ve seen here over the last probably 10 years happen in the next four so I’d like to be a part of it to make sure that some of the old thoughts and ideas carry through to the new developments so that we can all enjoy our town as we do,” he said.

He said new legislation that has increased council’s traditional three-year term to four years is impacting his decision.

“The only drawback would be for the length of the term this time, I’m kind of wavering whether I want to commit for another four years,” he said.

“In a lot of ways, the fourth year will better for the community, you’ll get that consistency throughout, it’s just the idea when you first think about a commitment for four years is a little bit more of a thought that you have to process.”

Having sat on council for over two decades Corlazzoli has had a front row seat to significant change and he sees more change on the horizon.

“So many things have changed and we’ve put in bylaws that I was involved with 25 years ago and sometimes its hard to wrap your head around what the community was thinking at the time and try to visualize what that means today,” he said.

“The (Official Community Plan) was a community driven process and I’m wondering now if it’s time to rethink and look at what the community really wants it to look like.”

He added the path becomes easier to navigate with experience but experience does not shorten the road.

“Decisions are no easier now than they were 25 years ago, when someone brings a problem forth you have to study it, you have to understand it, and you’ve got to make the best decision that you can,” he said.

“That part of it doesn’t get any easier but understanding the process helps a lot.”

Oliwa all in Councillor Randy Oliwa said his name is a lock for November’s ballot.

“I’m definitely running again and looking forward to it,” he said.

Oliwa is finishing up his second term in office and, with the learning curve behind him, he hopes to remain on board when the seeds he’s helped plant begin to blossom.

“The first term was a learning experience and this second term sort of hit the ground running and there’s some outstanding stuff that I want to see completed,” he said.

Oliwa said his municipal service experience has been “absolutely positive” and added he’s already considering a Mayoral bid in 2018.

Lyons “on the cusp”

Coun. Geoff Lyons is currently undecided and said the added fourth year is impacting his decision.

“Whilst I think the four-year term is great and it gives a bit more stability to council decisions, at my age I’m not sure if I can make that four-year commitment, or want to make it, so I have some soulsearching to do,” he said.

“I don’t want to suddenly have to pull out and leave a by-election in the middle of it so I’m on the cusp at the moment.”

Lyons supports the switch to a four-year term and hopes it disrupts what he considers to be a political business-as-usual pattern.

“I hate the political thing of ‘I’ll give you everything I can in the first year because you voted for me, the second year I’m going to have to start taxing you because I want to pay for all the things I promised you, and then the third year I’m going to give you a big break because I want you to vote for me again,'” he said.

“I hate to stereotype but that to me, especially in bigger cities, is the driving force behind it…Longterm plans never come to fruition because the politicians are self serving rather than prepared to lose their seat.”

This is Lyons first term on council but he is a veteran of municipal politics having served as Ucluelet’s CAO for about 10 years prior to being elected.

He said his view from the district staff level helped him understand what to expect from his council seat but he has watched others express surprise and frustration by the limits of what can be changed and the speed with which change comes.

“There’s so many things you want to do and so little time and money to do it… It’s tough for some people coming in the first time but that wasn’t my situation because I’d been there for 10 years watching it,” he said.

“I’d been there and seen how it is and also seen the unfortunate thing where people with every good intention come in to change the world and suddenly find out there’s certain constraints.”

Mole balancing commitments

Coun. Sally Mole is a relative rookie on council having received her seat in a by-election in March of 2012 after the resignation of Coun. Derek Drake.

She was one of nine candidates on the by-election’s ballot. Like Lyons, Mole was no stranger to local government proceedings when she landed on council as she had served 20 years as Tofino’s director of parks and recreation before Tofino axed her position months prior to Ucluelet’s 2012 by-election.

Mole recently became the Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce’s new executive director and she plans to spend the coming months determining whether she can balance her new position with another term in office.

She said she is currently leaning towards running for re-election.

“If everything goes well I would enjoy serving another term,” she said.

“We’ve had a lot of new challenges that I’ve been glad to be a part of, and a lot of new opportunities, so it’s exciting to be involved in that and part of the reason for wanting to continue is to continue the work we’ve been doing.”

reporter@westerlynews.ca