Four years ago, Delta voters didn’t get a chance to elect their mayor.
Long-time Mayor Lois Jackson won the post by acclamation — an extreme rarity in civic politics in most B.C. communities. Jackson had earlier said it would be her last term as mayor, and her civic opponents recognized her many years of service in a unique way.
First elected as mayor in 1999, Jackson is the longest-serving municipal politician in Metro Vancouver. She was first elected to Delta council in 1973 — the first woman ever elected to council.
And she may not be finished yet. She announced last week that she is seeking a term as a councillor — as part of the Achieving For Delta slate headed by former municipal administrator George Harvie.
Harvie was the chief administrator in Delta for 17 years before retiring earlier this year. He is running for mayor against five other candidates. One of them is former police chief Jim Cessford, who is heading up the Independents Working For You slate. He was Delta’s police chief for 20 years until retiring in 2015.
Also seeking the mayor’s chair is Coun. Sylvia Bishop, who has served two terms on council and has long been involved in Delta politics at the local and provincial levels. She is a former NDP candidate in the provincial Delta North riding. The slate she is heading is known as Team Delta.
Three other lesser-known candidates are also running for mayor: Moneca Kolvyn, Alex Megalos and Vykas Vaitkus.
The major issues in Delta are transportation, housing and use of agricultural land. Virtually every candidate wants work on the Massey Tunnel replacement bridge. Work on what was supposed to be a 10-lane bridge was halted soon after the NDP government took office last summer.
Meanwhile, traffic congestion continues to worsen — not just through the tunnel, but also on Highway 91 and the Alex Fraser Bridge, Highway 17, Highway 10 and other major routes. Tie-ups Wednesday morning (Sept. 12) had traffic at a standstill through much of Delta, and that is often the case. Getting to places like Annacis Island, where there are thousands of jobs, often becomes almost impossible in such situations.
The 72nd Avenue-Highway 91 intersection has been improved so there is no longer a traffic light slowing down northbound traffic, and the Alex Fraser Bridge is being reworked so there will be a seventh lane, northbound in the mornings and southbound in the evenings, but that’s it for major transportation improvements.
While Delta does have a provincial government MLA in Ravi Kahlon, who represents Delta North, it doesn’t seem too have many friends in government when it comes to transportation.
Housing is a significant problem all across the region, mainly because prices are so high that many people cannot qualify for a mortgage — period. Meanwhile, rents are jumping by as much as 4.5 per cent for tenants who stay in the same units in the coming year. Those who move could end up paying much more.
Delta’s rich agricultural land may soon be home to many marijuana grow operations as cannabis becomes legal next month. Jackson has lobbied to keep marijuana production away from farmland and existing greenhouses, but she and the city may be fighting a losing battle.
The sheer number of candidates for mayor, and the presence of three slates, means there are a lot of candidates for the six councillor positions. There are 20 candidates for the six councillors’ seats.
Also running with Harvie’s slate are former fire chief Dan Copeland, Jackson, Param Grewal, Alicia Guichon, Dylan Kruger and Cal Traversy.
Independents Working For You has incumbents Jeannie Kanakos and Bruce McDonald, as well as newcomers Sandeep Pandher and Garry Shearer as councillor candidates.
Team Delta has as its councillor candidates incumbent Robert Campbell, Joan Hansen, Kim Kendall and Simran Walia.
The fact that Jackson may be elected to council again could be helpful to the new mayor. She could serve as an excellent sounding board.
Four slates are putting up candidates for the seven seats on the Delta Board of Education. There are a total of 17 candidates running.
Achieving for Delta is running Erica Beard, Daniel Boisvert, Jessie Dosanjh and Sujay Nazareth. Independents Working For You’s candidates are incumbent and current board chair Laura Dixon, incumbent Nick Kanakos and newcomer Joe Muego.
Candidates running with the Delta Voices slate are incumbent Rhiannon Bennett, Andrea Hilder and Mita Naidu.
The Kids Matter slate is running Randy Anderson-Fennell, Victor Espinoza and incumbent Bruce Reid.
Also running is longtime trustee Dale Saip.