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FOULDS: Kamloops election has a candidate for nearly every issue

There are six open seats on council — the mayor's and five councillor spots — which means city council will have a completely different look after voting day.
Foulds column head

The second-most anticipated date in the civic election cycle has just passed — nomination deadline.

Last Friday was the deadline for candidates to file nomination papers if they wish to run for mayor, a city council seat, a school board trustee seat or a director seat on a regional district board.

Once the clock struck 4 p.m., the ballot in the Kamloops area offered clarity after months of announcements and speculation.

The candidate list as of Sept. 9 is not exactly final as candidates on the list have until 4 p.m. on Sept. 16 to withdraw and have their names removed from the Oct. 15 Election Day ballot.

But no names can be added, so the list is as long as it can be and we in Kamloops have five people running for mayor, 23 people seeking eight councillor seats and 11 people vying for five city school board seats.

How does that compare with previous general civic elections? Well, in the last two elections, the number of city school trustee candidates has not changed too drastically — 10 in 2018 and 15 in 2014.

At city hall, the numbers and male-female ratio in this election and going back four elections is intriguing.

• In 2022, there are five mayoral candidates and 23 councillor candidates.

• In 2018, there were two mayoral candidates and 21 councillor candidates.

• In 2014, there were four mayoral candidates and 28 councillor candidates.

• In 2011, there were four mayoral candidates and 24 councillor candidates.

• In 2008, there were three mayoral candidates and 26 councillor candidates.

This year’s election is the first this century to include a female candidate for mayor — Sadie Hunter.

Meanwhile, the female-male ratio of councillor candidates this year is 30 per cent (seven women and 16 men). That is right on par with past elections, save for 2014, when the percentage of female councillor candidates was a healthy 43 per cent (12 women and 16 men). In 2018, 2011 and 2008, women councillor candidates comprised 33, 29 and 31 per cent of the ballot, respectively.

As for getting people to actually vote on Oct. 15? Well, if 35 per cent of eligible Kamloops voters actually vote, it just might be a “Stop the presses!” moment.

In 2018, turnout locally was 30.6 per cent (below the provincial average of 35.6 per cent). But voter turnout locally in 2014 (34.9 per cent), 2011 (31.9 per cent) and 2008 (30.2 per cent) exceeded provincial averages by slight margins.

Now, about the candidates.

The mayoral race will likely be the most interesting in Kamloops since 2005, when Terry Lake was elected.

The past few elections have largely been coronations for either Ken Christian or Peter Milobar (save for the latter’s near-defeat to the then-unheralded Dieter Dudy).

This year’s mayoral electoral battle should be a recipe for intrigue. Take an outgoing mayor who always topped the polls, add in two businessmen who hope to tap into the public anger over street-related issues and mix in three incumbent councillors.

Who wins? Hard to say, but each and every candidate needs their vocal online supporters online (and there are many) to translate that keyboard passion into trips to the polling station on Oct. 15. With seven out of 10 eligible voters likely not to vote, recognizing which 30 to 35 per cent will vote and appealing to them will be crucial. This might be the hardest mayoral election to call this century.

And the councillor battle is no easier task. There are five open seats, which means city council will have a completely different look after voting day.

There will be five new faces guaranteed. There may be more if the three incumbents running do not succeed in their re-election bids.

There is certainly diversity in views among this lineup of 23 councillor candidates, which may help nudge up voter turnout.

If you are fed up with the street-related social and crime situation and feel council needs to take a harder approach when dealing with BC Housing and local non-profits that run shelters, there are candidates for you.

If you feel council needs to continue doing what it is doing on the issue, there are candidates for you.

If you are aching for a performing-arts centre to rise and want other recreational amenities built, there are candidates for you.

If you believe an arts centre and more ice rinks and pools are just too expensive right now, there are candidates for you.

Regardless of your views on climate change, bike lanes, property taxes, parking and snow-clearing, it is likely you will find at least one candidate among that list of 23 who agrees with you. Will you find eight? Maybe not, but you are not required to vote for the maximum eight candidates. You can walk into the polling booth and vote for eight, or two, or four, or one — or none.

We hope the information online at kamloopsthisweek.com, as well as via other local media outlets, will be more than enough to help you narrow your choice(s).

Attend a forum and get informed

• You are invited to the 2022 Kamloops Civic Election Forum. The forum will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Grand Hall at Thompson Rivers University.

The forum — co-hosted by KTW, CBC Radio Kamloops and Radio NL — will follow the format of the successful 2018 civic election forum and will feature a mayoral session, followed by groups of councillor candidates taking to the stage in 20-minute increments to answer questions from the public. You can attend in person and ask a question of the candidates or you can catch the forum online via KTW’s Facebook page.

• Councillor candidate Nancy Bepple is once again organizing an election seniors forum, something she has done in the past four elections, regardless of whether she was a candidate. The forum will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at noon at the Desert Gardens Seniors Community Centre, downtown at 540 Seymour St.

editor@kamloopsthisweek.com

Twitter: @ChrisJFoulds