Tofino councillors weigh in on November election

When Tofitians hit the polls to choose their new council this November, they’ll see some familiar names on the ballot.

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne has confirmed she will run for re-election and is excited at the opportunities another term would bring.

Osborne was acclaimed as Tofino’s mayor in January 2013, after running unopposed in a byelection stemming from former Mayor Perry Schmunk’s resignation.

“When I decided to run in the 2013 by-election, it was with the intention of running for a second term because I think continuity in leadership is something Tofino needs,” Osborne said.

“I really enjoy my role in the community and the region, and I think my positive, collaborative style of leadership has been well received by the community, Council, and the District staff.”

The province has changed its local elections legislation and added a fourth year to the historically three-year council term and the additional year has caused some Tofino councillors to hesitate in their re-election plans.

Coun. Cathy Thicke has not yet decided whether she will run for re-election and said the extra year’s commitment is impacting her decision-making.

“There is a huge amount of work to do the job well, just like there is in any job,” she said.  “I’m not trying to scare people off, I’m just saying it’s quite a big commitment to do the job well.”

While she mulls whether to run again, Thicke hopes to see a diverse range of ages on November’s ballot.

“It would be nice to have a more diverse age group,” she said. “I really want to encourage people who want to run who are younger because that’s really good; it’s good for the town, it’s good for everyone.”

Thicke is coming off her first term on council and was initially surprised by the slow pace of democracy.

“You don’t quite realize how slow everything takes, I’m not saying that in a bad way, but that’s democracy and it’s slow for a reason, it’s slow so you can consider all the possibilities,” she said.  

Coun. Ray Thorogood is also coming off his first term and said the pace of change has been slower than he expected.

He confirmed he will run for re-election in November and plans to be more active in requesting timelines from district staff regarding when council’s directions will be followed through.

“That has been very, very, frustrating to me; timelines and getting things done,” he said.

He added that he has sometimes struggled to get issues or concerns on council’s agenda.

“I don’t feel a flow happening at our meetings where we can bring issues forward,” he said.

“I’m not saying the thumb’s been put on us, I just personally don’t feel I’ve been able to bring up minor issues and, with me, I feel it’s a lack of procedural knowledge.”

With the learning curve behind him, Thorogood hopes to be voted into a second term that, he feels, will be more productive due to his increased confidence and understanding.

He said the new four-year term initially caused him to pause but he is now locked into November’s election.

“I was waffling for a while because of the provincial changes to the election act, in particular to a four-year term from a three-year term,” he said. “That one more year is a big commitment to a small community.”

Councillor Duncan McMaster also confirmed he will run for re-election.

McMaster is coming off his first term in office and said he experienced “some ups and downs” but, like Thorogood, is happy to have maneuvered past the initial learning curve.

“Everybody wants to change things (but) things don’t change as fast as everybody would like, it’s like trying to turn around a big tanker; it’s done slowly,” he said adding he hopes to bring his increased understanding of district processes into a second term.   

“It helps in the sense that you know how the system works and how to conduct yourself in meetings, that first year is definitely a learning experience,” he said.

Councillor Dorothy Baert noted the election is still several months away but she is currently leaning towards running for re-election.

“There are things I’d like to continue to do (and) projects that I don’t feel are quite where I’d like them to be; things move slowly in government and I’d like to continue to work on those things,” she said.

Baert is currently serving her second term in office and said she has “very much” enjoyed municipal servitude.

“It’s a huge learning experience and I encourage anybody in the municipality who has an interest to seriously consider putting their names forward,” she said.

She added she is willing to speak with anyone interested in learning more about the municipal office experience.

Councillors Al Anderson and Garth Cameron could not be reached by press time.

Check out next week’s Westerly for a rundown of where Ucluelet’s councillors are leaning.

reporter@westerlynews.ca