It’s still early days on the election front, but some interesting scenarios are developing.
First off, there are some suggestions that there could be a virtually brand new city council in Vernon after the Nov. 15 vote.
And that’s possible when you consider that two of the six councillor seats are already confirmed vacant because of the death of Patrick Nicol and Mary-Jo O’Keefe making a bid to be mayor.
On top of this, it’s unknown if Coun. Bob Spiers will pursue a third term as he insisted he would only ever be a one-term councillor and he is increasingly frustrated with bureaucracy. Coun. Brian Quiring may also walk because his civic duties have created challenges for his day job as an architect.
If O’Keefe isn’t chosen to replace the retiring Rob Sawatzky, then there would be a new mayor.
That could ultimately leave Juliette Cunningham and Catherine Lord as possibly the only returning council members (it’s anticipated they will both seek re-election).
Now for those who are critical of city hall’s performance over the last three years, a clean house will be a positive. It could lead to new directions and new attitudes regarding key issues such as economic development and taxation.
There is also the theory that the longer someone is in office, they become more comfortable being around other politicians and public servants and aren’t as responsive to the public.
If this election is anything like 2011 (there were 15 candidates for councillor), then there will be plenty of choices for voters.
However, some people are also suggesting that a complete overhaul could create major challenges. First off, it takes about a year-and-a-half for a newbie to become familiar with all of the rules and how a municipality operates, so without the direction of some seasoned veterans, how much will get done initially? There may also be a concern that a whole pile of new faces may either intentionally or unwittingly undo some of the work done by their predecessors, such as the current co-operative spirit between Vernon and neighbouring jurisdictions.
The other scenario that has also risen to the surface is the race for mayor.
Presently, there are three candidates — O’Keefe, Klaus Tribes and Victor Cumming. It’s been suggested that another high-profile individual may be waiting in the wings, and there may also be others who fancy themselves in the top post.
Obviously it’s great to see people interested in the future of their community and it should be the more the merrier when democracy is involved.
However, as has been seen before in Vernon, a crowded ballot makes it challenging for individual candidates, and particularly those who are new to campaigning or don’t have much public exposure, to get their message out. It also makes it difficult for voters to wade through all of the platforms and personal styles to determine who will be the best selection.
There is also a common view that any more than two or three candidates splits what is already a low voter turnout and you can possibly get a mayor who nobody is really enthusiastic about.
As the polling stations close Nov. 15, candidates and residents will focus closely on the final tallies — who rose to the top, who’s at the bottom. But, in some ways, it may be more interesting to see how the numbers unfold before election day.