Name: Karen Hovestad
Occupation/background: Owner/managing director of Auto Check Automotive. I have managed a not-for-profit and worked on contract to the federal government. I have sat on boards and held executive positions on associations and committees. I have an extensive education including a Masters in Organizational Leadership.
Why are you running for public office?
Primarily out of civic duty. My upbringing included taking responsibility and active community involvement. Plus, dissatisfaction with some decision-making by our current council compelled me to step up. This is a good city but it could be so much better.
What three priorities are important to you and how do you plan to tackle these issues, if elected?
Community engagement. We need good old-fashioned debate to truly tap our social capital. Our official community plan declares neighbourhood plans are the building blocks of our community, yet none exist for the majority of our city and the few we do have are becoming outdated. What to do? Let’s debate the ward system. Eight councillors, eight wards. Then facilitate a plan for each neighbourhood. Start with a basic template then fine-tune through consultation to the unique needs of each area. The goal – empowered people, better representation and direct accountability.
Environmentally sustainable business – it is not a pipe dream. Did you know there are more jobs in alternative energy production in B.C. than there are in Alberta’s fossil fuel industry? Let’s take off the blinders and get serious about true long-term planning. We are putting our future at risk by not looking far enough down the road. We simply must be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
Raise the bar on Nanaimo’s reputation. The perception of disharmony between city hall and council is an acid eating away at our social fabric. At the council table we need a fresh attitude of respect – respect for the people who vote for us, respect for the people who work for us, respect for the process from all levels, and sincerely disengage from the ‘suits versus the workers’ attitude. City councillors must work for the betterment of all the people, not just the ones with the same political ideologies.
How do you plan to manage taxes and spending?
With better consultation, fiscal respect and my good business sense.
My very first Nanaimo property tax notice felt excessive. So I did some research on the tax structure to discover how the complexity of our topography and physical layout makes services like transit, garbage pickup and road maintenance all far more expensive than a dense, orderly street pattern. Divide that by how many people/businesses are contributing and it is clear why it costs what it costs. Also, a review comparing B.C. cities’ tax rates by population shows Nanaimo is right in the middle and that is fair. What I believe has caused the attitude of tax fatigue is the frivolous and wasteful purchases (a lack of consultation and accountability) that have made people mad and rightly so.
What do you think it takes to lead Nanaimo?
Determination, intelligence and an open mind.
Describe your leadership or co-working style.
Collaborative and balanced. I have done much research on personality types and group behaviour to improve and broaden my perspectives and expand my capacity for relationships of all types.