Nanaimo’s youngest byelection candidate, 22-year-old Kelly Whiteside, sees “great potential” for the city and wants to be a bigger part of it.
“I am more of a listener than a speaker and I think I am very connected with what the citizens want and I would like to turn those ideas into actions now,” said Whiteside.
On Friday, the City of Nanaimo declared 13 candidates for the byelection, with Whiteside, Leon Cake and Neil Saunders being the last to hand in nomination papers. Cake was unavailable for comment before press time Monday.
Whiteside is the founder of North Island Pride and a recent Vancouver Island graduate who’s been on boards like the students’ union and CHLY.
Infrastructure and transportation are top issues for Whiteside, who notes complaints about potholes, the status of roads and public transit. She’d like to make it easier for residents to get around as well as tourists so they can take in more of the city.
Downtown revitalization is also a focus but in order to do that, she said other issues need to be worked on such as housing, homelessness and the current drug crisis.
Whiteside said most people view being part of a council as “you’re old, you’re experienced,” but there’s great value in having young people on council, seeing how they’re the upcoming generation.
“It’s easy to just kind of push us aside because we don’t have as much experience as they do and they believe that we are a little more likely to go with whatever they’re doing, but I believe I have a very strong voice and I do represent the citizens very well,” she said.
Saunders is a retired gold-seal carpenter, who has also worked as an assistant instructor at Clay Tree. He’s put his name in the byelection because he feels there’s an opening for some of his ideas, like a transportation hub on the downtown waterfront and a trolley from downtown to Woodgrove with whistle stops in between. The trolley would be for local people to use every day and for tourists.
He also said Nanaimo could be a leader for towns and cities on the Strait of Georgia that dump raw sewage into the ocean by putting in better sewage treatment.
His aim, if elected, is to get established enough to run for the 2018 election, and believes his cool-headedness makes him a good candidate.
“I don’t intend on being a mediator with these guys that are already in because if they can’t get along I am just going to be there to vote on issues that are brought forward and do it in my own way as my opinion. I won’t be swayed,” he said, adding he doesn’t get bullied easily or at all, sticks with what he feels is the right way to go and gets along well with people.
The byelection is July 8. For a related article, please click here.