White Rock Coalition incumbent Bill Lawrence says the big take away of the 2018 election – in which all four Coalition incumbents were voted out of city hall in favour of Democracy Direct candidates – was that some voters felt changes to the city were “too much, too fast.”
According to unofficial results, Democracy Direct will fill five seats on council come Nov. 5 – the new council’s first official meeting – with mayor-elect Darryl Walker at the helm. Re-elected independent incumbents include Helen Fathers and David Chesney.
Monday, Coalition mayoral candidate and current councillor Grant Meyer did not want to comment to Peace Arch News on the election results.
“I don’t have anything to say, really. It’s not a knock on you. I never had much time for some of the people at the paper there and I think they’ve been unfair over the years. It’s not you. Even our communications person said ‘they seem to really dislike you guys,’” Meyer said.
“We’ll leave it at that.”
Coalition incumbent Lynne Sinclair told PAN she had no comment; incumbent Megan Knight did not respond to a request for comment.
Lawrence said he was surprised by the election results, and that the voting public have taken “a total, 180-degree turn in how things were moving.”
Democracy Direct campaigned on a promise to slow development – particularly tower development – in the city.
Sort of like ripping off a Band-Aid, Lawrence explained that the Coalition felt comfortable with undertaking multiple projects at the same time so that disruptions to traffic and other inconveniences would be limited to a short time frame.
“It’s like a renovation. Some folks like to stretch it out. But if you do the whole place, move out and let the pros take over and get the job done. You renovate the whole house and you’re all done before you know it. Opposed to doing one part one time… then stretching it out,” Lawrence said.
“In this particular case, that was our philosophy and that was the tactic that we utilized.”
In the weeks leading up to the Oct. 20 vote, there were several major construction projects taking place all over the city, including the revitalization of Johnston Road, upgrades to Memorial Park, construction of Oceana PARC, construction of the Semiah tower, construction of the Miramar 2 towers and the construction of a four-storey parkade near the beach.
“The fact that everything was happening at the same time. It’s something White Rock has not seen at all. With all of this development and changes to the city, because of the inconveniences posed by the construction and the changes in bus routes. It definitely, I think, probably had a negative affect on our group,” Lawrence said.
He agreed that the transition, from Coalition to Democracy Direct, is dramatic.
“Very much so.”
Approximately 6,000 of 16,000 eligible voters participated in the election.
“It would have been very interesting to see how the other 10,000 eligible voters would have voted,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said that it’s usually those with strong, negative opinions who go out to the polls, while others who are more content with city management stay put.
He wished the new council well, and said he’s grateful for the six years he’s spent on council.
This story was edited Tuesday evening to clarify that Lawrence said “some” voters felt changes were too much, too fast.