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General News · 16th October 2022
Half of the familiar faces will not be returning to the SRD Board this term. The former Chair and Vice Chair, Brad Unger and Claire Moglove, were both defeated in their bids for re-election. So were Regional Director Brenda Leigh and former Campbell River Directors Charlie Cornfield and Colleen Evans. Neither Jim Abram (in Area C) or Noba Anderson (Cortes Island) sought re-election. Seven of the 14 directors will be new this term.

“It’s the biggest change of faces at the Regional District, certainly since I have been there. I would submit the board could really use some renewal. There’s a lot of faces that I don’t know who are coming in, so I really can’t comment much on good or progressive or cooperative of a board it will be,” commented Anderson, who was first elected as Cortes Island’s representative in 2008.

“It will at least give Mark Vonesch who is joining the board from Cortes, an opportunity to build relationships with other people that are new. I think that’s a really positive thing for him going in rather than inheriting a lot of the dysfunction of the old dynamic.”

We are going to be seeing a very different Electoral Areas Service Committee (EASC) as a result of the October 15 election. Gerald Whalley is the only one of the former Regional Directors to be re-elected. He was on the first SRD board, elected in 2008, and served as Vice-Chair. Whalley received 96.4% of the vote in Area A (Kyuquot- Nootka/Sayward).

“I’m really happy that there are going to be some people there that do have that experience. Gerald Whalley is still retaining his seat at the Electoral Area Services Committee and as an electoral area director, and I think that’s gonna be really invaluable, otherwise, there’s three new directors,” said Robyn Mawhinney, the new Regional Director for Area C.

“To the great amount of change that we’re seeing, I guess folks are ready for some new faces and some new energy, and I’m happy to be one of those.”
Mawhinney was elected in Area C, defeating Marc Doll 823 to 368. Mark Vonesch was acclaimed on Cortes Island. John Rice was elected Regional Director in Area D, defeating incumbent Brenda Leigh – 707 to 587.

“I have certainly noticed that when people are in office for a really long time, there’s a possibility of getting stuck in that role and the community getting stuck in that particular director being in that role. Jim (Abram) and Brenda (Leigh) have both provided decades of service and worked really hard for the communities, and I appreciate that, but I really do think that some renewal is super healthy at this point,” said Anderson.

Campbell River sends 5 directors to the SRD Board. This is where Kermit Dahl and his band of ‘like minded candidates’- who insist they are not a slate – were swept to power. Dahl was elected Mayor and is joined by all of his associates: Susan Sinnott,  Ben Layon, Sean Smyth, Ron Kerr and Doug Chapman.

“There’s a group of like-minded people that want to see solutions to our problems and make Campbell River the place that it used to be. When we’re seeing all these stabbings downtown and three police shootings in less than 12 months, things are getting out of control here,” Dahl recently told the Campbell River Mirror.

On his Facebook page, Dahl said, “Spend a few minutes and research the candidates. See if Campbell River needs a cohesive team to work together. The Divisive Council will not be productive for your community in the next four years. I wanted to take a minute to thank all of the candidates that ran, and a special thank you to everyone that’s helped us in our campaigns. Also, I’d like to thank Ben Lanyon, Susan Sinnott and Doug Chapman for stepping forward. I’d like to thank Ron Kerr and Sean Smyth for continuing to run for council. I think this will make an incredibly cohesive and productive next four years.”

The only new Councillor not in this group is Tanille Johnston, a member of the Wei Wai Kai Nation and the first Indigenous candidate elected to Campbell River’s city council.

The Mayor and four Campbell River Councillors will also serve on the SRD Board. Ron Kerr has served on the board since 2012. Dahl and Smyth both served as alternates on the board last term, but will now take their seats as regular board members. This will be the first term for Susan Sinnott and Ben Layon. 

Anderson added, “”I’m sad to see a couple of Campbell River folks go that I thought were really bright fair minded folks, but so be it. I guess Campbell River really wanted a change. So that’s what they’re getting. Beyond that, I know that Martin and Julie, the mayors of of Tahsis and of Zeballos, respectively are great folks and they’re gonna serve another term.

Three of the four SRD Directors in the district’s other municipalities were returned. Martin Davis won a massive 74.7% of the vote in his bid to be re-elected mayor of Tahsis. Mark Baker and Julie Colborne were acclaimed as Mayors in Sayward and Zeballos, respectively. The only change was in Gold River, where Michael Lott unseated Brad Unger to be elected Mayor. 

Kevin Jules is the only SRD Board member who does not appear to have been up for election. He is an appointee of the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations.

Meanwhile, Quadra Island resident Janice Gladish is the new school trustee for the Discovery Islands. She and Shannon Briggs, of Sayward, were appointed by acclamation. Craig Gillis, Joyce McMann, Kat Eddy, Daryl Hagen and Dave Harper have been elected in Campbell River.