Congratulations to Richard Atwell, mayor-elect of Saanich. The next four years in Saanich will be a time of rapid progress in terms of open government, particularly with several new candidates (Colin Plant and Fred Haynes) getting elected to council.
And thank you to Frank Leonard for nearly three decades of public service as councillor and then mayor of Saanich. There are a number of areas where I disagree with Frank Leonard, but there is no doubt that he has made enormous contributions to Saanich over the years.
I have been following the Saanich mayoral election closely – Richard Atwell is mounting a strong challenge against Frank Leonard. There are definitely some things happening on the ground. The traditional media in Victoria has not picked up on it, or perhaps there is a bit of wilful blindness. I can’t predict the future but consider these factors:
– Think about the massive neighbourhood turnout for the press conference at the Alberg cattle farm, supported by Richard Atwell.
– Over 120 people showed up at the first Town Hall organized by Richard Atwell for new council and mayoral candidates.
– Over 200 people showed up at the second new candidates Town Hall in Gordon Head.
– Richard Atwell has run a very effective sign campaign, Leonard not so much. In fact Leonard seems to be treating this as an acclamation and has not been putting a lot of visible effort into his campaign.
– Atwell has run a non-partisan campaign that has drawn in voters from across the political spectrum.
– People are frustrated with the sewage file, the messed up “amalgamation” question on the Saanich ballot, the forced library move, etc.
– Voter fatigue is a factor. Frank Leonard has been in office for almost thirty years. Some feel that he has had his time and perhaps become a bit too entitled. Saanich News expressed this well, the newspaper called for the “mayoral throne” to be removed from Saanich Municipal Hall. Leonard’s attendance record at the CRD has been very poor.
– There are four or five strong new candidates for Saanich Council (Colin Plant, Marsha Henderson, Fred Haynes, Rebecca Mersereau, Shawn Newby). These challengers have attracted a lot of new voters in Saanich. Many of them will vote for Richard Atwell for mayor for the same reason they decided to vote for a new candidate (they want change).
Saturday, November 15th (tomorrow) is municipal election day. Click here to find out where you can vote in Saanich.
CHEK News has a good story on voter turnout on southern Vancouver Island. Municipal voter turnout for the advance polls is up in Victoria, Esquimalt and Saanich.
It seems clear that something very significant is happening in Saanich this election. Voter turnout at the advance polls was more than any other municipality on Vancouver Island: