Tofino will host a byelection on Nov. 2 to fill the council seat left vacant by the sudden and shocking death of Coun. Dorothy Baert.
Nomination packages became available on Sept. 3 and must be picked up in person at the Tofino Municipal Hall—121 Third Street—between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The deadline to submit a package is Sept. 27 and the campaign period will begin Oct. 5.
The successful candidate will have lion-sized shoes to fill as the byelection was called due to the unexpected death of longtime councillor and community champion Dorothy Baert on July 17.
“Since her death, it’s been tough for all of us,” said Tofino mayor Josie Osborne during council’s Aug. 16 regular meeting, their first since Baert’s death.
Baert was was serving her fourth term on council, totaling 12 years and eight months, according to Osborne.
“Had she served the full length of this term, she would have become the longest continuously serving member of Tofino council since the municipality incorporation in 1932,” Osborne said.
She added that the strength of Baert’s voice was palpable “right from day one.”
“Each time Dorothy stepped into this room she brought a determination and strength of conviction to serve the community that is unmatched by almost anybody else,” she said. “She was persuasive and tireless and she did not always say the popular thing, in fact, sometimes she said it twice. She joked about being a broken record as she began to speak on various issues at the council table, but it was a demonstration of her complete consistency, her dogged determination and the fact that she knew who she was to the core and what she stood for.”
She said Baert provided valuable willingness to disagree never shying away from confrontation.
“As humans, most of us tend to avoid confrontation since it can be stressful and anxiety-laden. Despite the temptation to sometimes simply get along and go along with the majority, that is not what any elected official should do and councillor Baert rarely, if ever, chose that route,” she said. “She challenged assumptions. She challenged the status quo and she did not accept stock excuses or simplistic answers. She challenged us all, staff and council, to be our most critical and thoughtful selves all in the spirit of building better community.”
She added that Baert took the responsibility of the role seriously and her efforts set a high standard for her colleagues and the town’s future leaders.
“Her attention and dedication to the role of municipal councillor is one we can all learn from and it sets a very high bar for those of us at this table who continue on as elected officials and for all those yet to come to lead Tofino as mayors or councillors,” she said.
“The shock of her death is diminishing and we are adjusting…As she would wish us all to do, we will keep going, working hard, and we will all hear her voice very clearly as we tackle the opportunities and challenges before us. Not one meeting will take place for the rest of the term where we don’t think about her response to the issues related to homes and housing, to the vital character of downtown Tofino to tourism sustainability, to arts, culture and heritage and to the health of our small business sector.”
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