Mayor-elect of White Rock Megan Knight is looking forward to “getting her feet wet” post-election win, and is promising to make changes at city hall.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, Knight beat incumbent Mayor Darryl Walker, earning 2,001 votes to Walker’s 1,811.
Knight, a Notary Public who previously held a seat on White Rock City Council, believes she found success at the polls because people were looking for a change.
“A lot of people, when I door-knocked, they said, ‘The council is just dysfunctional, we’re upset that things have kind of gone south and nothing’s happening’… I got a lot of that,” she told Peace Arch News.
“Between mayor and council and staff, there was a real break and that was one of my top priorities was that I was going to get in there and restore the relationships between council and staff… that was my number one and that’s what I’m dealing with right away.”
Tensions between council members is not something Knight foresees during her term with her new team of councillors, consisting of incumbents David Chesney and Christopher Trevelyan, in addition to newly elected Elaine Cheung, Ernie Klassen, Michele Partridge and another former city councillor, Bill Lawrence.
“I’ve got a good mix of experience and a good mix of fresh faces at the table,” Knight said, adding that she met with each candidate prior to election day in case they would be working together.
Before election results were announced Saturday night, Walker told PAN that he is proud of the work his council has done, despite the difficulties that arose along the way.
“There’s been some animosity and kind of a dividing of the councillors, which is unfortunate.
“A lot of it led to what I believe was a campaign that wasn’t the type of campaign I’d like to run … but having said that, we’ve come through it. I think we ran a very, very good campaign,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t work things out because I’ve always believed that you can work things out, that’s who I am as a person, that’s what I’ve done most of my life.
Walker, who still has about three weeks of work left to do to finish up his term, said Tuesday he sees little point in hashing over the election results.
“It comes down to some people won and some others didn’t,” he said.
“I congratulate Megan and I congratulate the new council and wish them all the best. The electors have spoken.”
Walker said he was disappointed, though, that incumbent Anthony Manning had lost his council seat.
“I’m sorry we lost him from council – I think he’s one of the best council members we’ve had in this city in years,” he said.
Walker said he was also proud of the accomplishments of council and staff during a difficult four years in which White Rock had to come back from devastating storm damage to the iconic pier and promenade, and also navigate the uncharted territory of dealing with the COVID-19 virus.
“I don’t think staff gets nearly enough credit,” he said.
“One of the things of which I’m most proud is the relationship we’ve built between the City of White Rock and the Semiahmoo First Nation – which went from basically nothing to something we can all hold our heads high about.
“And I hope it continues in the same vein for the years to come.”
Mayor-elect Knight, meanwhile, had meetings scheduled with the Chief Administrative Officer of the city “to better understand and strategize how we can address the challenges I heard as I door-knocked throughout the city.”
One of the processes Knight described as “broken” is the permit process in the city, saying the timeline needs to be improved.
Another piece of her platform that she is planning to pursue is the need for more affordable housing throughout the city.
“I want to get the shovels on the ground for real affordable housing projects.
“People in need have waited far too long. There’s a lot to jump into and move forward, but hopefully with the four years, I can get (it) done,” she said.
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.
In the mayoral race, 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.
In the voting for councillors, Trevelyan topped the polls with a total of 2,774 votes (10.5%). Klassen was second with 2,685 votes (10.16%) and Chesney came in third with 2,247 votes (8.51%).
Rounding out the council roster were Cheung with 2,106 votes (7.97%), Lawrence with 2,080 votes (7.87%) and Michele Partridge with 2,073 votes (7.85 %).
Incumbent Manning just missed reelection with a total of 1,921 votes (7.27 %)
In all, 5,339 votes were cast, representing a voter turnout of just under 31%.