In a matter of hours, Nanaimo will know the identities of its next group of civic leaders. A lot of people in the city will be watching closely – few more so than the Our Nanaimo voter engagement group and the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce.
Fred Pattje, president of Our Nanaimo, cast his ballot earlier this afternoon at the Departure Bay Activity Centre and said it was a good feeling to vote.
“It’s always been a good feeling, of course, in every election I’ve voted in, but this one, particularly so,” he said.
He said he thinks voter turnout is going to be “pretty amazing” and he thinks Nanaimo will see change.
“We were about better planning, better governance and a different council and the last thing I’m sure is going to happen,” Pattje said.
He said personally, he wants to see a council that’s new and diverse in many ways: “Age is one of them, expertise in one of them, as close as gender equity as I can get it and that’s what my vote has been about,” he said.
The Our Nanaimo group is finished its work after tonight, Pattje said.
“We’ve done our best and that’s all we can do, but I think all of us are pretty satisfied with the time and the work that we’ve put in.”
— Nanaimo Bulletin (@NanaimoBulletin) October 20, 2018
The chamber of commerce co-operated with Our Nanaimo on common goals of trying to increase voter turnout and trying to engage and inform voters. Kim Smythe, chamber CEO, voted at the City of Nanaimo’s service and resource centre this morning.
“By the looks of the polls, there’s a great deal of interest in those getting [to the voting places] and having their voices heard,” said Smythe, pointing to the attendance at candidates’ meetings, lineups today, and advance voting turnout.
“That bodes extremely well, I think, for hitting that higher number of maybe close to 40 per cent,” he said.
He said he thinks there will be a change to council, noting that with Nanaimo electing a new mayor, “there will be new direction and a new style of leadership that comes out of this.”
Smythe credited the chamber of commerce board for supporting greater involvement in civic politics, saying there was “good, hard discussion” around the board table about the chamber’s role in the campaign.
“We took a little bolder stance and pushed the envelope, but I think the community were really looking for leadership to push that envelope,” he said.
Of the City of Nanaimo’s current nine-member council, four incumbents are trying for re-election. Mayor Bill McKay chose not to seek re-election and during his mayor’s report at a city council meeting earlier this week, he said he was honoured to have been elected mayor and wishes the next council the very best the next four years.
He said he’ll be “waiting anxiously” for election results.
“Many who have served their communities, in some cases for many years, have decided not to seek re-election. To all, we need to thank them for their service…” he said.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage everyone eligible to vote to please do so.”
Check out our website and Facebook page for full coverage of the results starting at 8 p.m. PT. Bookmark www.nanaimobulletin.com and follow the News Bulletin and reporters Karl Yu, Nicholas Pescod and Chris Bush on Twitter.