Saturday, September 30, 2023
September 30, 2023

Updated: Elected commission members look forward to mission

Salt Spring Island voters have elected Gayle Baker, Ben Corno, Earl Rook and Brian Webster to serve on the island’s first Local Community Commission (LCC). 

The four will join Salt Spring’s electoral area director Gary Holman to form the five-person commission under the Capital Regional District (CRD), with its first official meeting taking place Monday, June 19. Holman had championed the LCC concept as voters re-elected him in 2022. 

Some 10,000 people were on the CRD’s registered voter list before election day: 9,905 resident property electors and 128 non-resident property electors. The number of eligible voters grew to 10,219 (from 10,033) due to people registering at the advance or May 27 polls, according to CRD chief election officer Kristen Morley, who reported the total number of voters that cast ballots in this election was 3,262. 

Salt Spring Island’s voter turnout — reported alongside official results Wednesday, May 31 — stood at 32%.

As part of the official determination of results, the CRD said it confirmed and verified the accuracy of all ballot accounts, confirmed the calculation of vote tallies from the electronic tabulators and ensured the correct consolidation of total results from across all polling locations including mail ballots.

New commissioners expressed their gratitude on Monday. Top vote-getter Baker — with 1,977 votes — said she was particularly thankful to “loved ones, who were there to encourage when it got tough,” and to those who helped with the campaign. 

“I am touched by the amazing support from hardworking folks always willing to help,” said Baker. “It takes a village. I have hope that this victory will help pave the way for progress on our most important issues. Working as one, we can get it done.” 

Corno, in fourth place with 919 votes, said he was “flattered” to be elected and eager to begin work. 

“I’m looking forward to finding my feet with this group,” said Corno. “Maintaining the value of the knowledge-gathering experiences of the past will help us to become both efficient and accurate.” 

Ben Corno, one of Salt Spring’s first four Local Community Commission members.

Corno added he wanted the community to reach out to him to share their thoughts and vision for the future of CRD services that the LCC is helping to administer. 

Webster, who received 1,974 votes, echoed the sentiment, saying every community member needed to feel welcome and “that their views are valued.” 

“We have a great deal of work to do and nothing is more important than making sure the LCC meetings are as open and accessible as possible,” said Webster. “We have a strong team on this first-ever Salt Spring LCC and I know we all are motivated to make our local government effective and good value for tax dollars.” 

Webster thanked both Salt Spring’s voters and those islanders who stepped up to run.  

“We had a lot of good candidates,” he said, “and I expect many voters thought long and hard about which four would represent our community best.” 

Rook (1,538 votes) joined in appreciation for “cordial and respectful” campaigns run by all candidates, as well as the keen interest voters showed during the campaign period, thanking them for their “commitment to democratic self-governance.” 

“I spoke with many people over the course of the campaign and was impressed by the depth of their questions and their understanding of the issues,” said Rook. “Continued engagement with Salt Springers will be key to the success of the LCC.” 

Rook said he felt the first LCC commissioners needed to set the tone for future commissions: “effective, transparent and responsible.”  

“I think the commissioners we elected have the skills and motivation to work together in a constructive way for the benefit of the community,” said Rook, “and I look forward to being a part of that effort.” Salt Spring Island voters approved the change of CRD governance that created the LCC in a referendum held at the same time as local elections in October 2022. The LCC election saw about half the candidates combining forces during their campaigns. Positively Forward, a group that had initiated the process leading to last fall’s referendum, publicly endorsed Baker, Rook and Webster, although those three did not officially run as a “slate” or share a platform. Cudmore, Harris — also a Salt Spring Islands Trust trustee — Kerrigan and Marcotte had declared themselves as a “Core-4” slate. Corno ran independently, as did the balance of candidates. Salt Spring CRD director Gary Holman provided the following comment: “Thanks to all the candidates who put themselves forward in the election, and congratulations to Ben, Earl, Brian and Gayle. I look forward to working with you over the next three and half years.”

LCC “Unofficial” Vote Totals

Gayle Baker 1977 

Brian Webster 1974 

Earl Rook 1538 

Benjamin Corno 919 

Jennifer Lannan 863 

Jamie Harris 842 

Jennifer Kerrigan 790 

Lloyd Cudmore 753 

Nejmah Guermoudi 680 

Donald Marcotte 649 

Jesse Brown 381 

Jennifer McClean 296 

Kylie Coates 285 

David Courtney 284 

Eric G. March 146 


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