And we’re off to the races.
With two slates of candidates now vying for the mayorship and seats on council, plus more candidates ready to declare their intentions to run in the coming weeks, election season has officially arrived here in Delta.
October’s municipal election promises to be an interesting one. For the first time since being elected to the post in 1999, Mayor Lois Jackson isn’t running, clearing the way for any number of candidates to try and take a turn in the big chair.
This week, recently-retired Delta city manager George Harvie officially announced his intention to run for mayor. He’ll be going up against two-term councillor Sylvia Bishop. While we wait to see who else may throw their hat into the ring, it’s worth noting that two mayoral candidates is one more than Delta had in 2014, when Jackson ran unopposed.
With Bishop running for mayor and Counc. Ian Paton choosing to concentrate on his job as MLA for Delta South, that’s two council seats guaranteed to change hands on Oct. 20.
Incumbent councillors Robert Campbell, Jeannie Kanakos and Bruce McDonald have all said they intend to run again, though only Campbell has done so officially, and already eight others have joined the race for those six council seats.
There are a number of prominent issues that all candidates for mayor and council will have to address, any one of which have the potential to make a difference at the polls.
Delta faces enormous pressure from high real estate values and sky-rocketing rents. Candidates will need to balance demand for new development and densification with desires to preserve the look and feel of the city’s varied neighbourhoods.
In North Delta, that push-and-pull is most acute when it comes to high-rise developments, like those proposed on Scott Road at 95A Avenue and 75A Avenue, and townhouse developments like those under construction along 72nd Avenue.
In addition, most Deltans have an opinion on the proposed casino at the Delta Town & Country Inn site. So many people came out to a public hearing on the proposal earlier this month that it stretched over two evenings.
Councillors Bishop, Campbell and McDonald have already voted in favour of it, with Kanakos and King the only members of council to oppose it following the public hearing. New candidates will undoubtedly be asked their position on the issue, and dodging the question is unlikely to gain them love from either side.
And then there’s the rest of Delta’s sport and recreation facilities, especially the high school tracks. The state of the district’s tracks has been a sore point for a long time, and recently a thorn in the side of councillors, school trustees and Delta’s MP and MLAs.
There has been some movement on the issue, but it’s clear from the first platform statements of both Bishop and Harvie that it’s something both camps believe is important to voters. Not having at least the semblance of a plan in place to repair and upgrade the tracks may ruin a candidate’s chance at winning.