Victoria city hall faces a ‘historic’ shakeup

Victoria city hall faces a 'historic' shakeup

Nominations are now open for mayors and councils across the province, including Victoria’s, where the municipal landscape will look very different.

“The past few years for the City of Victoria has been a tough go,” said Chris Coleman, former Victoria city councillor.

A municipal election is less than two months away and most of Victoria’s mayor and council has announced they will not be seeking re-election.

Mayor Lisa Helps is not running for another term. Incumbent city councillors Marianne Alto and Stephen Andrew are running for mayor, opening up two council seats.

Four other councillors including Sharmarke Dubow, Geoff Young, Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Jeremy Loveday have all announced they will not be seeking re-election. Ben Isitt and Sarah Potts have yet to declare their intentions.

It’s a turnover for Victoria, which David Black, a political communications expert with Royal Roads University, says is “historic.”

“In the last three or four election cycles we have not had this few incumbents seeking to run again,” said Black.

Black also says that given the current political climate he’s not surprised by the mass exodus.

“This isn’t unique to Victoria, but of a kind of crisis in political candidacy itself,” said Black.

Black cites increased vitriol following the pandemic, high pressure but relatively low salaries, and the recently implemented four-year terms brought into effect in 2014 as all factors in the flood of Victoria councillors leaving the part-time job.

“I think when a group of people get together as a council and are cohesive, you can make four years work. When there are battlegrounds being drawn on virtually every issue, four years is a very, very, very long time to keep the battle up,” said Coleman.

And though the current council has been controversial, they were experienced.

“Geoff and Charlayne have 54 years of experience between them,” said Coleman. “So just with Geoff and Charlayne leaving you lose 55 per cent of your corporate intelligence, your corporate memory. You need to think about that.”

Coleman says additional training for what’s likely to be a greener council, may be necessary.

Nominations for Victoria city council close on Sept. 9 at 4 p.m. Voting day is Oct. 15.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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