The candidates in the recent municipal by-election say while they’re disappointed with the voter turnout, most are intending to take another run at a seat in 2022. Black Press File Photo

The candidates in the recent municipal by-election say while they’re disappointed with the voter turnout, most are intending to take another run at a seat in 2022. Black Press File Photo

Candidates lament low voter turnout in Campbell River municipal by-election

Many say they will still be putting their names forward again in the future, however

Eight people put their names forward for just one open seat in Campbell River city council chambers in the recent municipal by-election.

None of them had ever run for city council before. So what was it like? Would they do it again? After all, seven of them were unsuccessful in earning the spot, but there’s another election coming up in just 18 months where all seven of the seats at City Hall will be up for grabs.

Wes Roed, for one, will certainly be considering another run at a spot next election, although he admits being a bit jaded by some aspects of this one.

He quickly got over the fact that he didn’t win, he says, but there’s a lingering disappointment in the level of public engagement in the process. Less than 2,500 people cast a vote in the by-election, which is only 8.6 per cent of those eligible to do so.

“I have the time, the experience and the skill-set to give back, so I’d still like to do it. I still believe in service, and this community has been very good to me and my family over the years,” Roed says. “If I don’t, it won’t be because I’m disappointed with the outcome of this one personally, but I am disappointed with the outcome globally. Do I want to go through all that effort again for people to not even bother to go vote? I’ll have to think about it.”

Ken Blackburn feels the same way, calling the level of engagement he saw from the electorate when the numbers came in “disheartening.”

“We, as a community, need to talk about this,” Blackburn says. “It’s not healthy for community development to have such a low voter turnout. The answers to it are probably complex, so I’m going to suggest that we establish a community round table to look at what we can do about that in each of our sectors, whether social or environmental or business or from the city’s point of view.”

But can the community expect to see his name on the next ballot?

“It’s hard to predict life,” Blackburn says. “I mean, just look at this past year. But was it a positive experience? Was it worthwhile? Do I feel my time and effort was well invested? Absolutely yes. It’s a privilege to be able to talk directly to a community, and an election is one of the few times you ever get to do that.”

It’s not the last time we’ll see the name Steven Jewell on a ballot, either.

Jewell received only 14 votes in the by-election, but says he “thoroughly enjoyed it,” and will definitely be throwing his metaphorical hat back in the ring in 2022.

“When I saw how many people put their name forward for just the one seat, I knew there was a very small chance of me getting in,” Jewell says. “But it didn’t matter. It was about standing up and having a go. It’ll be nice next time because hopefully by then we’ll be able to go around the neighbourhood and knock on doors and all that. This time, obviously, we couldn’t do that because of COVID.”

Kealy Donaldson has made it clear she plans to be on the next ballot, as well, while also lamenting the lack of voter turnout, as does Laurel Sliskovic, the only other woman on the ballot in the by-election.

Sliskovic, however, says it’s too early to say for certain if she’ll run again, but she still thinks she would be a positive addition to council and would very much like another opportunity to represent the community in that way.

She also admits, however, that it’s a difficult decision for younger people like her to try to hold down a full-time career and fill a role on council at the same time.

“I think that might be why more younger people don’t run for council,” she says. “It’s not enough of a salary to make it a full-time job, but everything we’re told about it is that it’s basically a full-time job. But I’m going to continue to be my engaged self and we’ll see where things are at in a year’s time. I’m hoping that I’ll be in a position where I can run again, but it’s not an easy answer.”

She also agrees with Blackburn that something needs to be done to increase the political engagement of the community.

“Based on what I was hearing throughout the campaign, there’s a huge disconnect between what’s happening at City Hall and what’s happening with a lot of residents of this community,” she says. “The voter turnout certainly reflects that, for whatever the reasons, people aren’t engaged with what’s happening at city council, and we need that to change. People need to be connected in that way to where they live, and the fact that they’re not is super disappointing.”

Even Sean Smyth, who won the seat in the by-election, says he was disappointed in the level of engagement he felt from the community while going about his campaign.

“I talked to a lot of very bright, well-connected people out there who are just like, ‘ugh, government,’” Smyth says. “There’s a growing disenchantment happening, and I think that’s something that all levels of government need to address. Hopefully we can do that at least at the municipal level.”

RELATED: Sean Smyth to replace Babchuk on city council

RELATED: By-election candidates give their final pitch to the electorate

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverMunicipal election

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

No unused COVID-19 vaccines are going to waste at the end of… Continue reading

Where urban and natural landscapes meet can be a very interesting place. The Museum at Campbell River and Greenways Land Trust are hosting a talk on Earth Day on that topic. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Where urban and natural meet

Earth Day talk looks at urban biodiversity

Ryan Rasmussen goes on a training run on Quadra Island. Photo supplied.
Quadra Island man to run 160 km to raise funds for alternative cancer care

‘I feel like I need to be in pain to raise the money… I can’t do something that’s easy’ — Ryan Rasmussen

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

Ali Ellsworth is passionate about doing her part for Mother Earth and can be seen eagerly and happily cleaning up garbage around her Holm Road neighborhood, on a regular basis. She is a contestant in the Second Annual Small Planet Clean-up . Photo contributed
Ali does her part for Mother Earth by cleaning up around her neighbourhood

The Small Planet Energy team are thrilled to introduce you to a… Continue reading

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

Most Read