WATCH: A record number of people are running for Nanaimo city council. Forty people are vying for a seat in the October election. Kendall Hanson takes a look at why so many are running and the challenge this presents for voters.
For the past 33 years, Bill Carter has owned Bastion Jewellers in Nanaimo’s downtown. He’s hoping next month’s election will bring a big change at city hall.
“We’re definitely due for a council that actually listens to people,” said Carter.
It appears a lot of Nanaimo residents share that opinion. There will be a record 40 candidates for Nanaimo city council on the ballot.
Carter says there may be too many choices.
“It’s a bad thing to have so many people because the voters don’t know which way [to vote] and name recognition might get some of those same dunderheads at those same chairs,” said Carter.
Four current councillors are seeking re-election. Wendy Pratt, who resigned from Nanaimo city council after a confrontation at city hall, wants back in. And former mayor Gary Korpan is also running.
A current member of the Squamish council is running. Peter Kent’s resume includes being Arnold Swatzenagger’s stunt double.
Then there are dozens of less well-known hopefuls and at least one controversial candidate: Conrad Peach, the president of the Vancouver Island chapter of the Soldiers of Odin.
Nanaimo’s chamber of commerce president says he suspects the record number of council hopefuls is related to how upset the community is with the current council but the high number of candidates may pose problems.
“I scratch my head at some of those names never having heard of them before,” said Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo’s Chamber President. “[I’m] wondering what their level of community service has been in the past and whether they’re properly armed and ready?”
The chamber will be hosting two forums to help voters sift through the choices.
“The first thing is to sort of separate the wheat from the chaff and figure out who really is serious and who is a real serious contender,” said Smythe.
Voters say the high number may make it difficult to make a choice.
“There’s way too many. They’ve come crawling out of the woodwork for some reason,” said Nanaimo resident Michael Ritzker. “It begs the question where were they before?”
“It definitely shows that people want change and they’re looking for different options,” said Nanaimo resident Anna Edgar.
“It’s a curse because it’s too confusing who to vote for,” said Nanaimo resident Jamie Reid.
Back at Bill Carter’s shop, he says it’s crucial voters do their research because the stakes are high for the city’s future.