2014-11-21: Election 2014 news round-up

Port Moody, PoCo, Coquitlam mayors re- elected
But challenges will arise with new councillors and their agendas
Vancouver Sun, November 16, 2014
http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/viewer.aspx

The emergence of slate-style politics in Port Moody and Coquitlam will leave their councils with lingering political issues to smooth over as they start work.

IAN LINDSAY/ PNG Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay has been returned to office in what turned out to be the region’s closest race.

All three mayors in the TriCities were re- elected, with Port Coquitlam’s Greg Moore winning by the widest margin, capturing almost 90 per cent of the popular vote over challenger Eric Hirvonen. Port Moody’s Mike Clay was returned to office in what turned out to be the region’s closest race, capturing 55 per cent of the popular vote over challenger Gaetan Royer. Clay, however, faces a six- member council where three elected councillors were on a list of candidates endorsed by New West- Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly and the New Westminster & District Labour Council, the same endorsements carried by Royer. Clay said his first task will be to sit down with his new council and “find out where everybody’s at” in terms of setting priorities for the next four years. The Royer- led group didn’t declare itself as a slate, but Clay said they ran on a similar platform opposing aspects of Port Moody’s official community plan.

“As long as ( the councillors) are coming to the table independently and willing to consider everything and not speaking with a singular voice, that’s what we want on council,” Clay added. He wants to move on to completing other strategic plans that build off the OCP, including a transportation plan, as construction of the Evergreen Line SkyTrain marches toward completion. In Coquitlam, only two of five NDP- backed Coquitlam Citizens’ Association candidates, both incumbent councillors, were elected to the city’s nine- member council, but Mayor Richard Stewart said the contest leaves some acrimony that will need to be bridged.

“We are a council of independents,” Stewart said, and the task now will be finding ways to bridge differences “and build back the consensus we had prior to this silly season.”

Stewart won a third term with 69 per cent of votes: 15,002 compared with former mayor Lou Sekora’s 5,705. Third- place candidate Mark Mahovlich barely registered on the ballot, taking just 895 votes.

Stewart said that with the Evergreen Line’s impending arrival, the issues of concern were around how to manage growth and preserve affordable rental housing. Stewart said Coquitlam needs to figure out how to increase its population density responsibly, because the city can’t “sprawl further up ( Burke Mountain) or sprawl into agricultural land.” Moore said transportation was a key issue for Port Coquitlam voters, but in a switch, the discussion was about how to provide more transit and better connections with the Evergreen Line, not demands to build more roads. “It was interesting,” Moore added, noting all of Metro Vancouver is headed into another vote on the TransLink funding referendum, “which, if successful, will deliver a lot of new transit.”

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UPDATED: Clay gets second term as Port Moody mayor
Tri-Cities Now, November 15, 2014
http://www.thenownews.com/news/updated-clay-gets-second-term-as-port-moody-mayor-1.1588203

When Port Moody’s elected officials sit down at the council table for the first time in a couple of weeks, things will look quite different than in the past.

Port Moody residents appeared eager for change, voting in three new councillors on election night, including one of the youngest elected to a seat in the city’s history.

However, there was no change when it comes to the top political job.

Mayor Mike Clay won his second term, beating challenger Gaetan Royer.

Clay picked up 4,261 votes, compared to 3,450 for Royer.

The new faces on council include Meghan Lahti, Barbara Junker and Robert Vagramov.

Incumbent councillors Gerry Nuttall and Rosemary Small were outside of the top six and lost their seats.

Incumbent councillors Rick Glumac, Diana Dilworth and Zoe Royer were all re-elected and the top three vote getters, respectively.

Clay suggested his victory was the result of the work he’s done in the last three years.

He also reflected on the campaign that turned divisive and bitter at times, suggesting people supporting a group of candidates against him were spreading “things” around the community.

“I didn’t think we had that in Port Moody,” he said.

When asked about the make-up of the new council, Clay called them a great group he hopes will work together during the next four years.

“We’ll hopefully be able to get a lot of stuff done with this council, like we were able to with the last one,” he said.

Though defeated, Royer appeared upbeat about the overall results from the night.

He said the progressive ideas he brought forward in the campaign will be well represented on council with a “strong set of voices,” noting the election of Glumac, Zoe Royer, Junker, Lahti and Vagramov.

“I feel very good that many of the values that I advanced, the things I put on the agenda in the campaign are going to be carried forward by those five people elected tonight,” Royer said.

He also singled out Clay and Dilworth, suggesting they will have to show restraint on the type of agenda the two want to put forward.

The results likely ended the political career of two incumbents in Nuttall and Small who finished outside the top six in seventh and eighth place respectively.

When asked about the results, Nuttall suggested negative campaigning by candidates had an impact.

“I think the NDP, union money, endorsements all worked,” he said.

However, Nuttall said he’s not disappointed, adding he has no intention to run again in four years.

“I lost an election but I won my freedom,” he said, adding he ran for a fourth term to see the official community plan through to the future.

Despite the loss, Nuttall wished most of the council well, and was glad to see Clay, Dilworth, Lahti and Glumac back on council.

As for Small, she said she had no explanation for the results on Saturday.

She also said she would not run again in four years, noting the expense of the campaign out of her own pocket running as an independent.

Small also thanked the voters and offered her thoughts on the new council.

She suggested the new council will not work well together.

Glumac, who topped the polls with 4,493 votes, said he ran a clean campaign focused on his accomplishments in the last terms and his visions for the next.

He said he’s also excited about the new council, suggesting the make up reflects a younger demographic moving to Port Moody.

Glumac also suggested voters were not interested in the divisiveness that followed the election campaign and believes council can leave it behind for this term.

“At the end of day we all respect each other and can all work well together,” he said.

Diana Dilworth finished second with 3,916, and quickly lamented the loss of Nuttall and Small, suggesting they made significant contributions to the city while on council.

Still, the long-time councillor was upbeat about the new-look council.

“This is an exciting time in Port Moody and this is an exciting council,” Dilworth said.

Zoe Royer, who finished third in the polls with 3,658 votes, said she was proud of her campaign despite what she called attacks and adversity.

She also said the majority of those elected will treat everyone around the council table with respect and work together for the community.

Lahti, a former councillor, finished in fourth place with 3,481 votes, Junker finished in fifth place with 3,362 votes and Vagramov finished in sixth with 3,285 votes.

Voter numbers were also up in the City of the Arts with 7,813 votes cast, for a 35-per-cent turnout.

The turnout in 2011 was 26 per cent.

****************

ELECTION 2014: Port Moody council eager to get on with city business
by Sarah Payne – The Tri-City News, posted Nov 18, 2014
http://www.tricitynews.com/news/283120481.html

A hard-fought campaign in Port Moody brought out more voters than in previous elections, knocking out two incumbents in the process and bringing in one of the youngest politicians in the city’s history.

It also returned Mayor Mike Clay to the corner office, where he’s looking forward to continuing council’s work of the past three years and implementing many of the projects and events that were suggested through the city’s latest Ipsos-Reid poll.

“People really want more festivals and activities… so we’re trying to get more community-based events going on,” Clay told The Tri-City News. “A lot of work has happened but the events haven’t taken place yet, and I hope we don’t lose that.”

Clay is also anticipating more focus on integrating the Evergreen Line into the community and following up on the official community plan with an updated zoning bylaw, transportation plan and parks and recreation plan.

What he doesn’t expect to happen is re-opening the OCP.

“I’m taking it as my mandate that [voters] are generally supportive of the OCP, though I understand the concerns people have with the speed of growth and traffic congestion we’ve had in the past.

“That’s not what this one is about — it’s about slow, controlled growth that would be turned down if it ever got to a point where it was causing problems, but left flexible and adaptable for when we have opportunities.”

Clay’s challenger, former city manager Gaetan Royer, finished just over 800 votes shy of the win after a campaign that focused on re-opening the OCP.

He declined to be interviewed Monday but sent a response to one of five emailed questions, saying, “Only two of the council members who voted in favour of the official community plan are returning to council.”

He added it is “now near certain that the plan will be amended and that makes the whole campaign effort worthwhile for me. Considering that one candidate campaigned against ‘Metrotownification,’ his win… sums up the biggest issue of the election: Thousands of residents expect a more modest plan that respects Moody Centre’s character.”

Royer led what many considered a five-member slate, backed by NDP MP Fin Donnelly, from which three candidates were elected — incumbents Rick Glumac and Zoe Royer as well as newcomer Barbara Junker.

In fact, Glumac drew the most votes of all candidates, topping the polls with 4,493 votes to surpass Clay’s 4,261 votes.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better result,” Glumac said. “I worked really hard over my first term and, during the campaign, I focused on what my accomplishments were and what I want to do for the next four years.”

He attributed part of his success to running a positive campaign and not getting distracted by the negativity.

In the coming term, Glumac said he aims to focus on responsible growth that preserves the “unique identity” of Port Moody, work on traffic issues and look to expand Rocky Point Park.

Glumac was followed closely in the standings by Coun. Diana Dilworth, who earned 3,916 votes and anticipated the next four years will be “very interesting” and that the city will ultimately benefit from the diversity of opinions on the new council.

“I believe the mayor has a clear mandate with his vision but there are a number of council members who have a lot of different ideas, and the challenge will be bringing all those great ideas together,” Dilworth said, adding that regardless of political backgrounds, all council members are committed to making Port Moody a better place.

Following Dilworth in the polls was incumbent Coun. Zoe Royer with 3,658 votes and Meghan Lahti — returning to council after a three-year hiatus — with 3,481 votes. Neither responded to requests for an interview.

Junker will be one of two new faces at the council table after she earned 3,362 votes to take the fifth spot among voters (Junker is dealing with a recent death in her family and declined to comment for this story) while Robert Vagramov clinched the last spot with 3,285.

At 22 years old, Vagramov will also be the youngest council member, a factor he believes could work in his favour.

“I’m not afraid to suggest things other people might be,” he said, adding his relative inexperience when it comes to the concerns of many voters — the struggle to raise a family while paying a mortgage and property taxes — isn’t an issue.

“I lived on my own for years while studying in Ottawa so I have household budget experience, as does every renter in our city with or without direct property tax payments. My function as a councillor is to bring what I hear from residents to the decision-making table.”

He likened the election campaign to “high school drama” and said the next four years will be about focusing less on the OCP debate and more on livability.

Falling to seventh and eighth positions were incumbents Gerry Nuttall, with 3,222 votes and Rosemary Small, with 2,861.

“I’m very disappointed, but I want to thank everyone that voted for me and supported me over the last three years,” Small said, noting she was most proud of council’s work on the OCP and her roles as chair of the transportation committee and the high-tech park sub-committee.

“I think Mike [Clay] will do a great job and I’m glad he was re-elected to take the city in the right direction,” Small added.

Coming in at ninth was Anne Ladouceur (2,217 votes), followed by Chris Carter (2,166), Callan Morrison (1,906), Cathy Cena (1,644) and Tom Bell (835).

Slightly more than 7,800 of the city’s 22,000 eligible voters went to the polls for a total turnout of 35.5%, up from 26% in 2011.

****************

Voter turnout increases — especially in Port Moody
by Staff Writer – The Tri-City News, Nov 18, 2014
http://www.tricitynews.com/news/283087321.html

Only Port Moody cracked the 30% mark in Saturday’s election, with 35% per cent of eligible voters out to the polls. But Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam did see a 5% jump in turnout.— image credit: THINKSTOCK

What does it take to get voters to the polls — a big issue. At least that’s the conclusion that can be drawn from Saturday’s civic vote.

Port Moody’s divisive election campaign, focusing on the future of the official community plan and development along the Evergreen Line route, bumped up voter turnout in Saturday’s election by nearly 10%.

Even with a referendum question about a potential casino for the city, the 2011 civic election in Port Moody drew only 26% of the electorate, compared to 35.51% this year.

This year, there was also a strong race for school trustee, with six people battling it out for two spots, compared to 2011, when both Port Moody trustee candidates were acclaimed.

Of note are the number of votes drawn by both candidates in the mayor’s race — Mike Clay won with 4,261, 1,149 more than in 2011, while challenger Gaetan Royer pulled in 3,450 votes, 1,431 more than Clay’s 2011 challenger Robert Simons.

Voter turnout was also up in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam. Coquitlam’s voter turnout increased from 21.7% in 2011 to 26.01% and, in Port Coquitlam, turnout increased from 20.8% in 2011 to 26% in 2014.

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Moody Centre posts candidates’ election donations
by Sarah Payne – The Tri-City News, Nov 20, 2014
http://www.tricitynews.com/news/283406361.html

Candidates in Port Moody’s election fulfilled a request made by the Moody Centre Community Association at its all-candidates meeting earlier this month, revealing their campaign donations shortly before voting day on Nov. 15.

MCCA president Hazel Mason said the question is similar to one her association has asked candidates in previous elections — whether any donations were accepted from development companies — but with the publicity surrounding requests for the Vancouver city council candidates to disclose all of their donations, Mason said they decided to do the same.

“I thought it was awesome because we would like to know more and have more transparency,” Mason said. The group did not provide a template for local candidates to fill out but instead posted exactly what was submitted to them.

The results varied from fairly detailed responses, complete with a list of donors and the amounts that were contributed, to one-line summaries of the types of donations.

Official disclosure statements are due, by provincial law, 90 days after election day.

In his disclosure to MCCA, Coun. Rick Glumac, who topped the polls on Nov. 15, listed nearly $10,000 in donations from individuals, CUPE, firefighters and a numbered company. Anne Ladouceur, who finished ninth and, like Glumac, was part of a slate endorsed by NDP MP Fin Donnelly, collected nearly $5,200 from CUPE 785, the Port Moody Fire Fighters’ union IAFF 2399, and from Coquitlam Coun. Bonita Zarrillo as well as Donnelly.

Coun. Diana Dilworth detailed close to $5,500 in contributions from Tri-City businesses, Mill and Timber (the Flavelle mill) and three developers. Incoming councillor Robert Vagramov noted support from family members, CUPE Local 825, the PoMo firefighters and Andrew Peller, but did not supply specific amounts.

Both mayoral candidates listed donations from several individuals: Gaetan Royer, who headed the slate under which Glumac and Ladouceur ran, noted contributions from Wesgroup Properties and a numbered company; Mayor Mike Clay, who war re-elected, also noted donations from RPMG Holdings (Onni’s parent company) and Rocky Point Ventures, as well as corporate sponsors for his fundraising event, including Mint Hair Lounge, Peller Estates and Moosehead Beer.

Mason said the information received “a lot of hits” on MCCA’s website shortly before the election.

“It’s a great question and… the best part is it sets a precedent. And in future years, people can be more prepared for that,” she added. “It shouldn’t be a game for people who can get the most money. Caps on donations would be good.”

The provincial government has promised municipal election spending limits will be in place by 2018 that will govern politicians and third-party advertisers as well as how much individuals, businesses and unions can donate.

  • To view the full list of PoMo candidates’ contributions, visit portmoodycommunity.wordpress.com.

spayne@tricitynews.com

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COLUMN: Local elections: the good, the bad and the ugly
by Dermod Travis – The Tri-City News, Nov 20, 2014
http://www.tricitynews.com/opinion/283389221.html

Last Saturday was a good day for local democracy in B.C. As one person noted online: “First time in my life I’ve had to wait to vote in a local election… What the hell is going on?”

What was going on was that voters were coming out of the woodwork by the thousands in towns and cities across B.C., and it seems that those who skipped the vote 2011 had one thing on their mind this time.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson saw his vote go up by 6,524 over 2011 but the overall number of voters went up by 36,884.

Turnout increased in Victoria by 7,416 voters but, despite that, outgoing Mayor Dean Fortin saw his support drop by 969 votes from 2011.

So while Saturday was a good day for democracy, it wasn’t such a good night for incumbent mayors outside the Lower Mainland. In addition to Fortin, mayors went down to defeat in cities across the province, including Nanaimo, Saanich, Quesnel, Summerland, Sechelt and Lillooet (as well as New Westminster, Mission and Abbotsford).

And there were mayors who astutely put their finger to the wind and decided that greener pastures may lie elsewhere. Prince George, Surrey, Kelowna and Penticton are just four of the cities where incumbents bowed out gracefully before nominations closed.

At least two former MLAs found gainful employment: Former Liberal MLA Randy Hawes is the new mayor of Mission and former independent MLA Bob Simpson is the new mayor of Quesnel.

The day wasn’t without its snafus. Some polling stations in Vancouver ran out of ballots. In Victoria, one polling station briefly handed out the wrong ballot and in Surrey, the ballot for the advanced polls left off the party name of two candidates.

And there was that bizarre ban on social media. Some candidates claim they only learned about it in the days leading up to the election when Elections BC told them that social media was strictly verboten on Saturday, even a message as innocuous as “vote.”

So just to get this straight: Candidates are free to phone voters or knock on their door to get them out to vote but not tweet them or post to their Facebook page? The powers that be do know it’s 2014, don’t they?

In the “it’s time to bone up on privacy legislation” file, provincial and federal political parties would be well-advised to remember that a voters list is not a library book. You can’t loan them out to candidates or companies.

Tip of the hat to parties in Vancouver and candidates in Port Moody for disclosing their donor lists before the vote. Everyone else in B.C. gets to find out in three months — on Friday the 13th.

And kudos to the city of Coquitlam for putting together an election kit as an inexpensive way for candidates to get their flyers to all 50,000 homes in the city.

Elections also offer councils a chance to turn over a new leaf with citizens. In some communities, that’s not a bad idea.

Here are three ways to start:

  • drastically cut down on the number of in camera (closed door) meetings you hold;
  • dramatically increase the number of freedom of information requests you approve;
  • and stop suing local citizens for libel if they don’t like you or agree with you.

If Saturday was a good day for democracy, imagine how much better it would be if it was on, say, a Monday in 2018? British Columbia is one of only three provinces to hold civic elections on the weekend. The other seven might be on to something.

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Robertson vows to increase community input in future
Sunny Dhillon, VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail, Monday, Nov. 17 2014
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/robertson-vows-to-increase-community-input-in-future/article21633162/

Vancouver’s newly re-elected mayor is promising residents more say in the future of their neighbourhoods, after complaints he and his party weren’t listening to the community nearly swung last weekend’s vote.

Gregor Robertson’s re-election once seemed assured but turned increasingly uncertain in the weeks leading up to the vote, prompting him to issue a last-minute public apology. He told reporters Monday he’ll focus on making sure the community’s voice is heard.

“We just need to have, obviously, more conversations, more forums for people to weigh in when there’s change facing their neighbourhood,” he said.

Mr. Robertson said it can be difficult to balance affordability, density, growth and public engagement. However, he added that a number of recommendations proposed earlier this year by a city-engagement task force can be implemented in the year ahead.

Specifically, he said he wants to see changes in the development process, so the community has earlier input and is able to “shape the proposals coming forward more directly.”

Mr. Robertson, of Vision Vancouver, captured more than 83,000 votes – or 46 per cent of ballots cast – to win a third term.

Kirk LaPointe, a career journalist and political newcomer running for the Non-Partisan Association, claimed more than 73,000 votes, or 40.4 per cent. Meena Wong, of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, or COPE, was third with just under 16,800 votes, or 9 per cent.

Though Mr. Robertson was able to retain the mayor’s seat, he’ll have one fewer Vision councillor at his side. Tony Tang was unsuccessful in his re-election bid, meaning Vision will have six of 10 councillors this term.

Vision lost control of the park board, dropping from five of seven seats to only one seat. The party also lost its majority on the board of school trustees. The nine-person board will now be made up of four members of Vision, four members of the NPA and one member of the Green Party.

Mr. Robertson, at a debate last week, apologized to voters for not listening to them enough as he and Vision pursued an aggressive agenda of bike lanes, housing and reducing homelessness.

Monday, he told reporters he was enjoying finally being able to get some sleep after a gruelling campaign.

He did not bask in his victory for long, devoting much of the news conference to next spring’s transit referendum and the need for a subway along the Broadway corridor.

“We need to make sure we have very strong voices here, across the region, calling for support for transit funding, and the Broadway subway is a key part of that package, as well as bus service improving across the entire region, and rapid transit in Surrey,” he said.

Linda Hepner, the new mayor of Surrey, has said she will urge the public to vote Yes in the transit referendum and to support whatever revenue tools are needed.

However, Ms. Hepner added that even if the public rejects the proposals she will find a way to have the light-rail system in operation by 2018, perhaps with a public-private partnership.

Mr. Robertson declined to discuss Vancouver’s Plan B, saying he remains optimistic the referendum will be successful because “everyone knows we need better transit.”

Mr. Robertson was asked about a wide range of issues.

On affordability, he said the city will continue to focus on rental housing units, with about 1,000 being built every year.

He also said he does not at this point plan to drop a lawsuit he filed against Mr. LaPointe and the NPA during the campaign. Mr. LaPointe had suggested the city’s decision not to contract out union jobs was “corrupt,” because the union involved donated to Vision’s campaign.

“I was disappointed to see those personal attacks during the campaign. I think they really lowered the bar for Vancouver politics. At this point, I don’t have any intention of holding back on that. I want to see that there [are] no attacks like that and spurious allegations going forward,” he said.

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