Campaigns kicked into high gear this week in anticipation of Salt Spring’s first Local Community Commission (LCC) election later this month.
The 15 candidates officially approved by the Capital Regional District (CRD) to run for the four open seats on the commission are: Gayle Baker, Jesse Brown, Kylie Coates, Benjamin Corno, David Courtney, Lloyd Cudmore, Nejmah Guermoudi, Jamie Harris, Jennifer Kerrigan, Jennifer Lannan, Eric March, Donald Marcotte, Jennifer McClean, Earl Rook and Brian Webster.
Election day is May 27; the Driftwood has profiled six candidates who have reached out to us so far: Gayle Baker, Earl Rook and Brian Webster in our April 12 edition, and Jesse Brown, Benjamin Corno and Nejmah Guermoudi in our April 26 edition. Today we present eight more who submitted information by the press deadline. Amongst this group, Lloyd Cudmore, Jamie Harris, Jennifer Kerrigan and Don Marcotte are running as a slate. Candidate Courtney is a retired Air Canada pilot, initiator of the Fix for Route 6 Change.org petition to bring two-ferry service to the Vesuvius-Crofton ferry route, and a recently elected by acclamation Salt Spring Fire Protection District trustee. He declined the opportunity to submit material for this week’s instalment.
Eric March originally moved to Salt Spring Island to work on one of the island’s many farms; since then, he said he’s been learning about the production of local cider — working in turn for each of the island’s cideries.
“As much as Salt Spring Island, its nature and its people have captured my heart, we live in a community that can be difficult for, if not hostile to, our working class,” said March. “Without our retail and service workers, our ferry workers, our agricultural and production workers, our eldercare, pharmacy and medical workers, our community turns into a theme park for landowners and tourists.”
March believes the primary benefit of the LCC will be that by increasing the number of elected officials in local government, we will see an increase in diversity of representation in that government; he said it’s time for Salt Spring to have an elected official to represent younger, working and renting members of the community, drawn from those very demographics.
“If I am elected, I intend to work tirelessly to do everything within the power of the LCC to advocate for and improve the lives of Salt Spring Island’s working and renting class — and to allow those improvements to trickle up to the rest of the community,” said March. “I hope, whatever the result of our election, our Local Community Commission ends up with a variety of voices forming a chorus of effective government. I hope that on May 27 the voters of Salt Spring Island give me the opportunity to bring a fresh new voice with new ideas to the Local Community Commission.”
Kylie Coates said he’s a “true Gulf Islander, born and raised here,” attending Salt Spring Elementary and graduating from GISS in 2000.
“I grew up on a farm on Salt Spring,” said Coates. “This taught me about responsibility, and this has served me well over the years.”
Coates said his travel across Canada and all over the world has given him a broad perspective about life and culture, and pointed to his record of volunteerism — an important aspect, he said, of giving back to your community.
“Donating money is one thing, but donating time is another,” said Coates. “I have volunteered with the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce as a director. It gave me an insight into the concerns of both local business as well as tourism, and what we at the chamber had to focus on to assist businesses in thriving.”
Projects he worked on there which give him the most pride include working with the RCMP and CRD to help clean up and prevent vandalism in Ganges, and instituting a beautification project with three murals already in place — and more planned for the future.
“For the last six years, I have been working with the Wagon Wheel Housing Society towards getting low-income housing for workers and families on Salt Spring,” said Coates. “We also created the Salt Spring Laundromat, as it was desperately needed in our community.”
Coates said he is running for the LCC because he believes he has something to offer. He recently ran for CRD director, and previous to that election ran for Islands Trust.
“When I ran for CRD, I was able to have many discussions with CRD director Gary Holman about the LCC,” said Coates, “and he encouraged me to run for the betterment of our community, and make the LCC work for all Salt Springers. Win or lose, I will continue my volunteer efforts in making Salt Spring a better place to live.”
Jennifer Lannan said Salt Spring Island has been home — or home base — since her family moved here in 1991, living here full-time since 2008. While raising three children with husband Johnson Emekoba and running a small business in Ganges, Lannan has been volunteering for the community as treasurer to the Salt Spring Saturday Market Society and chair to the Gulf Islands Early Learning Society — which oversees two facilities, one in the start-up phase.
Lannan pointed to her background in large and small business as well as her advocacy and support of several community endeavours — most recently becoming a co-representative to the DPAC for Salt Spring Elementary School. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and Philosophy.
“This is a sensitive time where our community’s governance is starting a new chapter,” said Lannan. “I hope electors choose candidates they trust and will ignite the LCC with a strong footing while listening to the population with an inclusive approach.”
Lannan said she hoped to see the LCC swiftly address problems that affect working families.
“We need to work together for a thriving community with highly functional services that are adaptable for current and future needs — as well as respectful to history,” said Lannan. “Solutions need to be acted upon now.”
Lannan said the community needs flexibility for its diverse society, from transit to parks and recreation plans and building a strong year-round economy. She said she was looking forward to seeing how the new commissioners work to make the best choices within the CRD to assist the various groups working to make Salt Spring Island a more dynamic place.
“I decided to run for the LCC because I want to be a voice for the family demographic,” said Lannan. “I come to the table as a fair and independent choice as a commissioner and I stand for equity, diversity and inclusion of all people and their needs. The past few years have been challenging for our community and I hope to see the LCC bring some fresh air.”
Jennifer McClean said most will know her as Jenny, and that she’s “an islander and a parent” who works downtown and wants to be part of an LCC that gives more voice to people from the community. With a wide range of interests in community services currently run through the CRD, McClean said she wanted to see that body become more democratic.
“There should not be so many limits put on community participation in meetings as we have seen with the current format,” said McClean. “We need to open the floor and make time for presentations from the public — at times that suit the public to join.”
McClean has been involved with the school PACs in School District 64, and also fundraised for the preschool, running through “all the regular hoops” Salt Spring parents face. A believer in support and food programs that “bring everyone together and join at a point of intersection,” McClean volunteers with the Chuan Society on community projects.
“Sharing is caring,” said McClean. “Community kitchens, ride shares and alternative housing models are all on my list of what I envision for our shared future. I believe in community programs that are free or affordable and do not create barriers of cost for families.”
McClean said she wants to have a greener Ganges that is more of an inclusive community space, with less congestion in town, and brings to the table a host of ideas — ranging from multiple transit and parking improvements to a “car free” festival in Ganges.
As a regular attendee at the commission meetings for services being folded into the LCC — as well as taking part in the Ganges Village planning process with the Islands Trust and other advisory committee meetings — McClean said she saw “no CRD traction” to align services with what islanders truly needed.
“Too many of the important ideas are shuffled to the back of the line by the current groups in charge,” said McClean. “I would like to cut through that and get some improvements here. I know it can be done.”
McClean wants to see town planning that gives use, rather than removing use; she is an advocate for several transit improvements and generally a “more vibrant village,” adding that CRD land there should be prioritized for housing, rather than other purposes like an EV charging station.
Jamie Harris said when he first came to Salt Spring over 30 years ago, he fully immersed himself in the “traditional west coast lifestyle,” reading every historical book he could find about the region.
“I was very intrigued to see how early settlers, along with First Nations as well as the blended families of both, thrived in these resource-based endeavours,” said Harris, eagerly wanting to become involved in commercial fishing, logging and farming himself.
“I actively pursued work in all of these areas,” he said. “I have been very active in sustainable logging here on Salt Spring Island for many years, striving to hone my skills to this day.”
Harris said he supplied many people with firewood over the years, enjoying good conversations while unloading firewood from the truck.
“I have made many great friends, including local First Nations, through work and play here,” said Harris, “and have gotten to know a large number of islanders from all walks of life. I alongside them call this place home.”
Harris said he was running for one of the four commissioner positions in hopes of having an impact on improving our community, after “30-plus years of watching our community suffer from wasted tax dollars” and from witnessing CRD support for “certain non-governmental organizations who are willing to flat out lie as well as use very misleading information in order to further their concerning ideological agendas at the cost of our communities’ social well-being — while threatening our ability to address the workforce ownership housing crisis we have long been facing.”
“I say enough is enough,” said Harris. “It is time for a common-sense, reality-based approach to decision making when deciding where to focus our tax dollars.”
Harris said he felt long-time “generational islanders” with families and children of their own were the best place to start when choosing to elect competent and qualified representation.
“With a positive narrative and initiatives that will help start to repair the damage done to our communities’ social well-being while at the same time improving our economic well-being, we can achieve a sustainable sense of hope and security for working families, their children and for retirees alike,” said Harris.
As a current trustee representing Salt Spring at the Islands Trust, Harris said he would bring added value to the LCC by achieving an “automatic collaborative reality” between the CRD and the Islands Trust.
Jennifer Kerrigan said that as a fourth-generation islander with a strong dedication to her community, her family and the future of Salt Spring Island, she couldn’t imagine a better environment to raise her children.
Kerrigan and her husband Matt own and operate two successful businesses while raising their kids and being “active and intentional” community members. She said she is passionate about seeing the island thrive through sustainable growth and innovative development, pointing to her administrative and legal support background as attributes she brings to the table. Those skills, she said, have been honed during her years of tackling massive projects as a legal administrator, production coordinator and in recent years working alongside her husband.
Kerrigan said she is currently working with other residents to bring to the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee an initiative to prevent further pollution of harbours, address dangerous safety concerns, regulate liveaboard vessels and remove derelict vessels. Kerrigan feels strongly that keeping our town, harbours and community safe and viable for all stakeholders for generations to come is the highest priority.
Bringing a “different and often unique” perspective to every challenge presented to her, and a belief in being highly solution-oriented, Kerrigan said she truly cares about our island, our families and our future. With a sincere and approachable disposition, Kerrigan said she’s “someone you want on your side to help navigate the issues at hand in our community.”
Don Marcotte is a Salt Spring Island community member with “deep roots” in the area, and a passion for making a positive impact on his home.
Born and raised on the island, Marcotte said he has always appreciated its many natural wonders, including the stunning ocean and extensive trails, and enjoys riding. He pointed to his background in mechanics and experience as an owner-operator of a successful trucking outfit as the source of a “deep understanding of how infrastructure and transportation affect daily life on the island.”
Currently working at the highways department, Marcotte feels responsible for ensuring the island’s roads are well-maintained and safe for all residents and visitors. As a father of four, he said he is highly invested in the future of the island and is dedicated to ensuring that it remains a wonderful place to raise a family.
Marcotte’s experience working in various industries on the island has given him a wealth of knowledge, he said, as well as insight into the workings of Salt Spring and the surrounding islands. His warm and friendly personality allows him to make friends easily, he said, and that a “quick wit and positive outlook” has helped him become highly regarded throughout the community. Marcotte feels he is a true asset to Salt Spring Island, and said he hopes his contributions to the area will be felt for generations to come.
Lloyd Cudmore is a fourth-generation Salt Spring Islander, a proud owner/operator of a local construction company, and has completed many challenging, large projects, pointing to Murakami Gardens for Salt Spring Island Community Services and the Islands Pathway project as examples.
With deep-rooted ties to his family, friends and community, Cudmore said he was “incredibly grateful” to have been able to raise his two children here alongside his high school sweetheart Tandy.
“I know how to work collectively, effectively, efficiently and, most importantly, on-budget,” said Cudmore, adding he understood “the importance of connection” and was attuned to the needs and opinions of clients and the community.
Cudmore said he was highly eco-conscious, and passionate about learning and challenging himself — and about teaching others how to experience growth while practising sustainable methods in different parts of the industry.
Being able to connect with people on many levels has given him a unique perspective, said Cudmore, allowing him to stay rooted in the past while remaining forward-thinking and innovative when looking at the future. And as an active participant in his children’s education and extracurricular activities, Cudmore feels this has given him valuable insight into the younger generation’s concerns and their outlook on their future. He has continued to maintain those relationships and feels their voices are highly relevant to the island’s future.
Qualified residents and non-resident property electors may cast their vote on general voting day, Saturday, May 27, or at the advance voting opportunities on Wednesday, May 17 and 24.
Mail ballot voting is also available to all residents (including renters) and non-resident property electors in the Salt Spring Island Electoral Area. Electors must submit a completed mail ballot application form no later than May 5. Completed application forms may be submitted via email or to the addresses provided on the application form.
For more information on the available voting options, people can visit www.crd.bc.ca/ssi-vote.
Last October Salt Spring voters approved by referendum a change in governance to consolidate several CRD services under the umbrella of an LCC, with four elected individuals joining the electoral area director to form the LCC.