Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March. 6. (Westerly file photo)

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March. 6. (Westerly file photo)

Tofino’s mayoralty candidates explain why they want the job

Andrea McQuade, J.J. Belanger and Dan Law all vying for Tofino mayor’s seat.

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new municipal councillors on March 6. In an effort to keep the community informed of their choices, the Westerly News will be asking each candidate a question and publishing their answers in the newspapers leading up to the March 6 byelection. For this week, each candidate was asked to explain why they are running. Responses were limited to a maximum of 300 words. Below are the responses from Tofino’s three mayoralty candidates, Andrea McQuade, J.J. Belanger and Dan Law. The order they appear was selected at random.

Andrea McQuade

We all arrived in Tofino somehow – planes, cars, vans, boats, mothers, and nurses shepherded us into this place – and if you’re reading this and invested in a local municipal election, chances are you’ve stayed, or want to.

I’m running for Mayor because I had that opportunity to stay. Today, I want to make sure that the community that welcomed me, employed me, housed me, and cared for me has the resources to keep welcoming people who want to contribute, and supports those already here who teach us how.

Tofino will always draw people here. As a community and a place we are incredible, vibrant, and engaging – keeping and attracting the choir directors, nurses, activists, seniors, and dishwashers we love and need shouldn’t be a zero-sum game where some need to leave to make room for others. We can and must make balanced decisions together about supporting our community and supporting our businesses, about attracting and retaining people, and about the benefit, strain, and impact we create.

In the next year and a half, I am ready to be the consistent, hardworking, experienced Mayor to lead Tofino through whatever arises.

We have a strong strategic plan informed by our community, an excellent Council, and a clear mandate on how to move forward through COVID19, recovery, and beyond. I can’t be every voice, but I am running to represent and lead a council to convene, listen and reflect this community in our collective decisions.

I know that the only way is through, and that the best way through is together.

J.J. Belanger

I’m running for Mayor because our community is in a precarious position. There is a great—and unnecessary—divide between residents and our tourism economy. This past summer showed the gap widening more than ever. We cannot relive it again this year, or ever. To ensure we start coming together, I will establish a forward-thinking committee to better manage tourism, starting with a pause on development while we look at our current and future infrastructure needs. This will allow us to strategically plan what Tofino will look like in 2030 and beyond. Are we going to be a town that lives with constant tourism issues? Or are we going to be an aligned community that is not only a great place to live and work, but also with the amenities to support families, seniors, workers, and our First Nations communities. We have many big elephants in the room that are not being openly discussed, including a diminishing water supply, an $89 million dollar sewage treatment plant that we cannot afford, and the need for a new or expanded hospital to service locals and peak summer visitor volumes. We also need housing solutions for local workers living in resort staff accommodations that are having children in living spaces not meant for families; but they have no other options. To accomplish this, we need to heavily regulate the short-term rental boom in this town in order to open up long-term rental opportunities. Last but not least, we need a plan—not a ban—on beach fires. In summary, I’m running for Mayor because I have the business acumen, experienced leadership, and proven results to help Tofino navigate the rough waters we are experiencing and get us moving toward a brighter future as a strong, sustainable, and resilient community.

Dan Law

I’m running for mayor because I have the desire and ability to help tackle hard issues fairly and in the best interests of people who call Tofino home.

Tofino has critical decisions to make; I want to make sure that going forward we protect and preserve what makes Tofino unique and special.

This has been my home for twenty years. I know what it’s like to live, work, and raise children here. I’m running because I value local small businesses, our environment, our hospital, our schools, and all our community volunteers. I want to do all I can to help make Tofino a better place to live.

As a councillor, I was effective in bringing a strong community focused voice to Council policies and decisions. I’m running for mayor in order to carry that success forward, and to lead a fair, transparent, and effective government.

As mayor, I’ll bring a broad range of professional and personal experiences to the council chambers. I’ve worked at the hospital and in community health. I’ve taught in the schools and in the community. I’ve owned businesses, led and directed community organizations for 27 years, and earned a master degree while working and caring for my children.

Working in the emergency room taught me to act quickly and decisively. Completing graduate studies taught me to research and think deeply about complex issues. Directing non profits and charities taught me the tremendous potential of motivated and dedicated people. I’ve learned that the best decisions come from building a great team. I believe everyone has something to contribute.

I’m running for mayor because I believe I’m the right person, in the right place, at the right time, to lead Tofino toward a fiscally, socially, and environmentally responsible future.

READ MORE: Two Tofino councillors plan to resign seats and run for mayor

READ MORE: Belanger enters Tofino’s mayoralty race

READ MORE: Tofino to ask for leeway in mail-in voting restrictions for March byelection

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