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Council and school board candidates eye four-year term

Candidates ready to submit nomination papers for the 2014 civic and school elections will face a new possibility—holding elected office for four years.

New provincial elections legislation means the next council and school board term will be a year longer than the current three-year term. Other changes for the Nov. 15 election—noted in the candidate nomination package now available at Richmond City Hall’s election office—are largely administrative, according to the city’s chief election officer.

“The changes this time are much more administrative and not going to be really affecting the public,” said David Weber. “Probably the main thing is the four year term.”

After Richmond was incorporated as a municipality in 1879, local government elections were held annually—a practice that held for over a century before a longer term was introduced.

The new four-year period will match terms of provincial and federal politicians.

Candidates making a run for a mayor’s seat, one of eight council chairs or one of seven school trustee positions face few obstacles in Richmond. Canadian citizenship, a minimum age of 18 and B.C. residency for at least six months are the only significant requirements, apart from filing nomination papers between Sept. 30 and Oct. 10. There is no fee or deposit required—only the signatures of two nominators.

The nomination package, available since last Friday, includes nomination documents, information on campaign financing, guides for candidates and information on election signs.

Other provincial changes for local elections have moved campaign financing to Elections B.C., while the rest of election administration remains with municipalities. There are also changes around sponsorship. Political advertisements, for example, must declare who’s behind them.

“In previous years, we didn’t have problems like that here, but in some municipalities there were some problems with some negative campaigning that was going on, without people knowing who it was,” said Weber.

A handful of new candidates have already announced their bids to take down incumbents on Richmond council. Retired Vancouver police executive and former school trustee Andy Hobbs is running with Richmond First Voters Society, along with Canada Asia Pacific Business Association president Elsa Wong.

Newcomers running for school board could have a better chance, as it appears at least one school board seat won’t be contested by an incumbent. Kenny Chiu has said he won’t seek a second term, and will instead focus on a federal seat in 2015.

New school board candidates running with Richmond First are Kevin Lloyd Lainchbury and Peter Liu. Independent Jack Trovato has also announced his candidacy.

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