Nanaimo will have some new political representation both in and around the city. New regional directors were elected Saturday in Area A (Cassidy, Cedar, Yellow Point, South Wellington) and Area B (Gabriola, DeCourcy and Mudge islands).
Keith Wilson took 58.9 per cent of the vote, ahead of runner-up Sharon Thomson, while Vanessa Craig garnered 67.2 per cent of the vote to replace longtime director Howard Houle.
“I was pleased with the results, I’m happy so many people turned up to vote and it was very exciting,” said Craig.
She thanked Houle for representing the area, said he did a fine job and added that “I wasn’t running because I felt that there was a problem, I was offering myself as an option.”
Craig recently finished her second term as president and chairwoman of the College of Applied Biology council and said she enjoyed that sort of collaborative environment, built skills in that setting and wanted to put that to work for her community.
She said Gabriola was engaged in the local government elections, with not only the Area B race, but also two Gabriola Local Trust Area seats with Islands Trust. (Scott Colbourne and Kees Langereis were elected.)
“With all three of the positions, there was a choice,” Craig said. “We had so many conversations during the election and all the candidates getting out into the community and holding open houses and I think it really got a lot of discussion and talk going and inspired people to get out to vote.”
She said two of her “big, big” priorities are to promote a housing function around attainable housing, and to reinvigorate emergency response services for her area.
Craig thanked voters and said she looks forward to representing all residents of the area as she takes over her new duties.
“I’ve got a lot to learn. I’ve done my research and I think I have a good base for that,” she said. “I love to learn and I’m a researcher at heart, so I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
Wilson said it meant a lot to see the community support him at the ballot box and said he had gone into election day with some confidence.
“I thought we did all we could do and it was going to work out. But I still had my fingers crossed…” he said. “Thanks to everybody who voted, because it wasn’t a low turnout by Area A standards.”
He thinks some of the reasons Area A residents were motivated to vote were around safe communities, including homelessness and related issues, and public safety, especially pertaining to cyclists, kids walking to school, dog walkers and other pedestrians.
Wilson, who takes over from retiring director Alec McPherson, said he’s looking forward to his new role.
“I can say I’m ready and let’s get at it,” Wilson said.
Craig received 1,156 votes compared to 565 for Houle. Wilson earned 550 votes to Thomson’s 383.
Area C (Extension, Arrowsmith-Benson, East Wellington, Pleasant Valley) director Maureen Young and Area E (Nanoose Bay) director Bob Rogers were acclaimed.