A unique municipal byelection will be next month in the middle of a pandemic. Victoria residents will have the chance to choose between 11 candidates running to fill the seat left vacant Laurel Collins, now an NDP MP.
David Black, an associate professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University, said the city is facing issues that have been polarizing and complicated for local voters.
“The voters of Victoria will have the opportunity to take the temperature of a city government now two years into its four-year mandate,” Black said.
In a crowded field, two frontrunners have emerged. Stephen Andrew is making his second run for council, and said public safety is a key issue.
“The voters are telling me they want to see an increase in public safety. That means funding police effectively so they can do their work,” Andrew said.
Stefanie Hardman, who is hoping her position as a candidate for the Together Victoria will boost the party’s numbers on council to three.
“It’s an opportunity for the City of Victoria to vote for the candidate that best represents their values, and best represents the direction they want to move in,” Hardman said.
Black says there are three issues at stake – homelessness, the local economy and safety – that are facing council.
“A city government facing some extraordinary issues that have been polarizing and complicated for local voters. Issues that are top of mind for Victoria voters; 24-hour camping in city parks, a product of the COVID pandemic and homelessness.”
If elected, Hardman will join fellow Together Victoria councillors Sharmanke Dubow, and Sarah Potts to form a progressive block.
“I want to commend the City of Victoria council for the work that they have done to try and respond to this emergency in a way that is compassionate, and thoughtful, and caring of the people in Victoria,” Hardman said.
But Andrew says this byelection may decide the future direction of council.
“I think this by-election is a referendum on the work of Together Victoria, and their allies on council. People are fed up, they are coming to us by the droves,” Andrew said.
Victorians will make up their minds on Dec. 12.
More information on the 2020 byelection can be found here.