The race is officially on for Salt Spring’s first Local Community Commission (LCC) election, and there’s no shortage of candidates.
As the nomination period closed April 21, 15 candidates were officially approved by the Capital Regional District (CRD) to run for the four seats on the commission. They 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, Jenny McClean, Earl Rook and Brian Webster.
With the May 27 election day approaching, the Driftwood profiled three candidates who reached out to us in our April 12 edition: Gayle Baker, Earl Rook and Brian Webster. As more continue to do so, today we present three more who submitted information by the press deadline.
Jesse Brown described himself as the owner/operator of Rainbow Trout B&B on St. Mary Lake, a “community fundraiser and self-declared underdog,” and pointed to his previous work as CRD’s Salt Spring economic sustainability coordinator and as executive director for various not-for-profit organizations — including the Salt Spring Island Chamber of Commerce — as part of a history of community leadership.
“I love bringing money into the community through grant-writing, fundraising and encouraging visitors to come to Salt Spring Island,” said Brown. “I’ve developed and written three successful proposals to the Island Coastal Economic Trust, and I’m most proud of recently fundraising for a relaunch of DAISSI’s Pride Festival this July 28-31.”
Brown said, “After three referendums on Salt Spring and a general trend in politics to go negative,” he is concerned with the polarization of local elections and the formation of “slates.”
“Politicians at a local level should be fully independent,” said Brown. “It’s just not helpful to create these little political parties in a small community like ours. If this means I’m entering the LCC race on my own as an underdog, so be it . . . I will work with anyone, regardless of political leanings, if it means more money flowing through Salt Spring, and projects being completed that align with Salt Springers’ needs and values.”
Brown added he has recent experience running in local elections, having placed second in the Salt Spring CRD director election last October.
“I feel so grateful that the community came out and supported my campaign that centered around positivity. As a political unknown, I think I did really well! I want to continue this momentum and bring the voices of working people and people raising children on Salt Spring Island to the LCC.”
For more information about Brown and his priorities, visit www.saltspringtogether.ca.
Benjamin Corno said he moved to Salt Spring Island in 2010 to work at Blackburn Meadows Golf Course — at the time, he added, the only organically maintained golf course in Canada.
“That summer, I began volunteering with Foxglove Farm,” said Corno. “And so began my 12-year immersion in small-scale organic farming, an adventure that co-created Heavenly Roots Vegetable Farm with my partner Kaleigh.”
Last year, Corno said, he chose to take part in the Islands Trust local trustee election, his “first official foray into the field of public service.”
“Through that experience, I activated parts of my personality that delighted in stimulation: my understanding of fairness, active listening and leveraging my curiosity to inform myself about new concepts,” said Corno. And while not selected for that position, he said he considered the experience a success because “I kept my promises and stayed true to myself, and stepped into the unknown trusting I would be able to adjust as needed.”
Since then, Corno said, he’s taken “a much-needed hiatus from full-time farming,” working three days a week at Dagwoods Diner, The Fritz Cinema and the Salt Spring Island Golf Course. He continues to serve as chair of the Community Market Society and vice-president of Salt Spring’s Disc Golf Club — a schedule he calls “effectively retired,” adding he is ready to fill his calendar with new focuses to activate the new skills he’s building.
“What I offer as a local community commissioner is an understanding of the layout of our local governance, a professional and realistic outlook on the role, and a core sense of social and ecological justice,” said Corno. “What excites me about joining the first LCC is the opportunity to learn more about the mechanisms that make our community function and to interact with them with the respect, creativity, and curiosity that I bring to all my endeavours. I trust myself to speak and act on behalf of our whole community, and to bring consistent optimistic energy to the LCC meetings — and to community outreach.”
Nejmah Guermoudi said she’s running for the LCC to provide an additional voice to Salt Spring Island governance discussions and decisions, one that has been “missing for far too long.”
“If elected, I will strive to do what is best for our entire diverse community,” said Guermoudi. “I am a neurodivergent, mixed-race mother of three with an honours-level social service worker diploma.”
Guermoudi said she has nearly 30 years of lived experience with housing insecurity and poverty on-island, a story she calls both unique yet “all too familiar” to many islanders. Through her outreach work at the SSI Community Resilience Hub and the Creator Space at SIMS, Guermoudi said she has learned how systemic barriers to housing and services impact quality of life and human dignity. In addition, she said her work on the Islands Trust Housing Task Force and multiple other organizations has taught her that change can happen quickly when people collaborate for the common good — the kind of collaboration she would advocate for if elected.
“The new LCC will require courageous voices to advocate for creative solutions and to push for intergovernmental collaboration,” said Guermoudi. “With your help, I will be one of those voices, a voice committed to representing all our citizens, but especially the less fortunate.”
Guermoudi said climate justice and social justice are “intrinsically connected,” and that we must not consider ourselves separate from the natural world. A healthy ecosystem is a diverse one, she said and a healthy community is no different.
Guermoudi added she wanted to end what she saw as Salt Spring’s “increasingly bitter debates” between environmental activists and housing advocates.
“Let’s become a truly just and equitable eco-community,” said Guermoudi. “I commit to championing a middle way, a path that provides desperately needed housing and innovative solutions to our services challenges, while continuing to preserve and protect our special island.”
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 as early as possible and 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.