Municipal races across the region kick into high gear

Race for council positions heats up as papers filed
Times Colonist, October 12, 2011

Several incumbent politicians have filed their candidacy papers in recent days.

In Saanich, councillors Paul Gerrard and Dean Murdock both announced they will run again. Each was first elected to council in 2008.

Gerrard, who owns a construction company, has a long history of community involvement in the Gorge Tillicum area.

He was instrumental in getting the Saanich Centennial Library in the community when chairman of the Greater Victoria Public Library Board.

Gerrard said his priorities are to work on affordable housing issues, effective transportation choices and build Saanich’s economic development and financial stability.

Murdock says the Nov. 19 election “comes at a crucial time for our community.” Traffic is a “nightmare” and residents want more quality transportation options, including better public transit and proper sidewalks, he said.

Other priorities include investment in housing that is affordable for all families, supporting local farmers to reduce the rising cost of food and help sustainability.

The race in Victoria is thickening. Lisa Helps, executive director of Community Micro Lending, has announced her bid for a seat on Victoria city council.

Helps’s platform includes: more citizen involvement and a public city budgeting process; neighbourhood-building through seed-money grants, greenways for walking and cycling and creating new recreation areas for families; revitalizing seniors centres; creating buy-local networks; building new affordable housing through innovative local financing options; increasing sustainability through regional transportation initiatives, encouraging local food suppliers, and fostering home-based and local businesses.

Victoria restaurant owner Shellie Gudgeon also announced for Victoria council.

Gudgeon, who has owned and operated several restaurants, currently helps to oversee the operations of Il Terrazzo Ristorante and Fifth Street Bar and Grill.

She says that the formula for a vital community is the same one she has used to develop award-winning restaurants: invest in your business and, at the same time, in the people who have made it successful.

In Oak Bay, business executive Kevin Murdoch has declared his candidacy for council. Murdoch’s platform includes: building an official community plan that looks forward 50 to 100 years; making smart, long-term infrastructure decisions to reduce operational costs; providing political support for science-based solutions to environmental issues; protecting and building upon Oak Bay’s community heritage; enhancing facilities for families and the elderly; and supporting tourism and local business.

Saanich school board trustee Elsie McMurphy will run for North Saanich council this time round. McMurphy has been on the school board for nine years and says her experience with the difficult issues will be helpful as a councillor. She wants to preserve and enhance the unique character of North Saanich. She mentions the Sandown racetrack lands as having “enormous potential” and said legalizing secondary suites and dwellings will help to provide affordable housing.

The Saanich board of education race has seen long-time Central Saanich resident Tim Dunford announce his candidacy. Dunford is a family-law lawyer who has been active on parent-advisory councils.

Peg Orcherton is running again in the Greater Victoria school district. She has served three terms and is a long-time supporter of several community groups.