In a major upset, voters have chosen Megan Knight as White Rock mayor, unseating incumbent Darryl Walker in tonight’s (Oct. 15) civic election.
Knight campaigned on increasing fiscal responsibility and keeping taxes in check, while providing affordable housing and addressing what she termed a “dysfunctional council.”
It was a theme she returned to just after election results came in tonight and her election-watching party at the Ocean Beach turned into a celebration.
“I knocked on every door in White Rock, and that was the number one thing I heard – the dysfunction,” she told Peace Arch News.
“Every person I talked to said the same thing – ‘what’s wrong at city hall?’.
“There was too much splintering and fighting going on,” she said, adding that she was looking forward to working with re-elected incumbents and new faces on council.
“I think it’s a good mix of people.”
White Rock voters chose from four candidates for the mayor’s chair, and selected from a field of 16 candidates to elect a total of six councillors.
With 9/9 polls reporting, unofficial results give Knight 2,001 votes (37.67%), ahead of Walker’s 1,811 votes (34.09%).
Erika Johanson and Scott Kristjanson, both former White Rock councillors, placed third with 833 votes (15.68%) and fourth, with 667 votes (12. 56%) respectively.
Elected to White Rock council are:
Christopher Trevelyan (incumbent), with 2,774 votes (10.5%)
Ernie Klassen with 2,685 votes (10.16%)
David Chesney (incumbent) with 2,247 votes (8.51%)
Elaine Cheung with 2,106 votes (7.97%)
Bill Lawrence with 2,080 votes(7.87%)
and Michele Partridge with 2,073 votes (7.85 %)
Incumbent Anthony Manning just missed reelection with 1,921 votes (7.27 %)
These numbers are unofficial.
In all, 5,339 votes were cast, representing a voter turnout of just under 31%.
During the campaign, the greatest agreement among candidates was that providing affordable housing is a must for White Rock, although opinions on how to achieve that differed widely.
Adding interest to the 2022 race was the potential philosophical contrast between incumbent mayor Walker and councillors Manning, Chesney and Trevelyan, compared to the approach of (now mayor-elect) Knight, and council candidates Grant Meyer and Bill Lawrence, who were councillors from 2014-18. At that time, the mayor was independent Wayne Baldwin.
Congratulations as well to White Rock Mayor-Elect Megan Knight. I know that we will be working hard together for the benefit of all residents and businesses in the City By The Sea!@whiterockcity
— Kerry-Lynne Findlay (@KerryLynneFindl) October 16, 2022
Interestingly, although that council had been perceived as pro-developer and pro-highrise – due to a spate of highrise approvals during their term – none advocated for that kind of development during the campaign.
Knight even went as far to say that she would abide by the new OCP established by Walker’s council, which generally put a cap on heights of six storeys, except in areas of uptown already zoned for higher buildings, although she said would consider new proposals on a project-by-project basis.
Even more interest in the race was added by the schism that had developed during the most recent term between members of the former Democracy Direct slate who had been elected in 2018.
Walker, Manning and Trevelyan and councillors Johanson and Kristjanson had increasingly differed over approaches to development, and these differences ultimately led to the demise of Democracy Direct before the campaign began.
Congrats to @whiterockcity Mayor Elect Megan Knight. I know you will serve this beautiful city well. Also a hearty thank you to Mayor Daryl Walker who lead with integrity and class for the last 4 years. #bcpoli
— Trevor Halford (@TrevHal) October 16, 2022
While Walker, Manning and Trevelyan favoured six-storey buildings providing a percentage of affordable housing to replace aging apartment buildings of three and four storeys, both Johanson and Kristjanson had argued that such density was unnecessary and would lead to the destruction of neighbourhoods and much of the character of the city.
No formal slates ran candidates during the campaign, although candidates, such as Walker and council candidate Stephen Crozier, Manning and Trevelyan, and arts and business and services advocates Elaine Cheung and Michele Partridge campaigned as loose partnerships, while technically running as independents.
Although providing affordable housing and staying the course established by the OCP had been a major theme of incumbent council candidates, many challengers, including long-time council watchers Fiona MacDermid and Garry Wolgemuth, cited recent large tax increases and inefficiencies leading to lengthy delays in permit approvals as major problems at city hall that needed to be fixed.