Municipal elections will be held throughout B.C. this fall so the Westerly news recently checked in on Tofino’s local leaders to see which ones plan to put their name forward for re-election.
Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne confirmed she will run for re-election and, after being acclaimed in a 2013 by-election and a 2014 general election, she hopes to have at least one opponent for the first time when Tofino heads to the polls on Oct. 20.
“There’s no doubt that acclamation is an easy way in and I know for a fact that I’m the envy of other mayors, across Vancouver Island for example, because I have not had to campaign to succeed to become mayor of my community,” she said.
She added though that running unopposed means she has not yet had the opportunity to campaign.
“It’s good to be able to tell the community who you are and what you’re about, what you stand for and what your values are,” she said. “If you don’t have an opponent, you don’t get the opportunity to do that.”
Osborne also hopes to see more women run for council this year.
There will be at least one incumbent council seat up for grabs this October as Coun. Ray Thorogood has bowed out. He said a change in 2016 that made local government terms four years rather than three is the main reason for his decision.
He added he would “definitely” encourage anyone considering a council bid to step up, but said they need to understand the heavy time commitment they’re signing up for.
“There’s a lot of background work you have to do,” he said. “If you feel it’s thankless, you shouldn’t be running. It’s got to be rewarding. You’ve got to get reward out of it.”
Duncan McMaster was the only incumbent councillor to confirm a re-election bid when asked by the Westerly.
With 18 years in local government, Coun. Al Anderson is Tofino’s longest serving councillor.
“Something about it keeps me coming back,” he said. “I’d have to say that I’m leaning towards running again, but there are some things that may change that one way or the other as things move along.”
He said that his seat on council has allowed him to contribute to his community.
“I’m not a family man. I don’t have children and many of the activities that young folks and families do in town and the way they serve their community is connected through family,” he said. “I feel like this is the best way for me to serve the community not having had a family.”
Coun. Dorothy Baert has put in 10 years on council and said she has not yet decided if she’ll run for another four.
“Four-year terms are challenging in small communities,” she said. “I do have some things that I feel that I’d like to continue working on so I have to balance that out…If I do decide to run, I’ll be in it 100 per cent.”
Coun. Greg Blanchette is also undecided.
“I’m not going to even think about it until after the summer is over. I don’t want considerations of re-election or anything like that to influence any of the decision I’ll be making between now and September,” he said.
Blanchette was the only first-time councillor to earn a spot in 2014’s election and he said tackling the learning curve presented by his first term was both rewarding and challenging.
“It’s been all ends of the spectrum. There have been times when I’ve been composing my resignation letter and there were times when I was, kind of, giving myself the old fist pump; like, ‘Yeah we did that,’” he said. “This council has been particularly easy to work with and, in large part, that’s a function of Mayor Josie’s exceptional leadership skills and her approach, which is to include everybody on everything…We don’t always agree and I wouldn’t want us to always agree, but we all have points of view that we feel free to express.”
Coun. Cathy Thicke is wrapping up her second term and said she’s “not completely sure,” if she’ll put her name in for another one.
“I have given it some thought and I am interested. I just need to think very seriously about the time commitment and the energy that this commitment, for me, demands,” she said.
She added four years is a big commitment and added that the level of responsibility is high.
“Especially relationships with First Nations; that’s at a real critical point in time,” she said. “All of these extra meetings with First Nations, working through difficult problems, really demands a lot of thought.”