Thursday, June 8, 2023
June 8, 2023

Viewpoint: Gayle Baker gets writer’s vote

By SAMANTHA SANDERSON

I am pleased that we have chosen to form a Local Community Commission (LCC) through the Capital Regional District (CRD). It’s at last an affordable way to increase our ability to govern ourselves.

I think an important requirement for being an LCC commissioner is having an open mind and an ability to find consensus. We Salt Springers tend to pride ourselves on our disagreements with each other on key issues. I think we don’t need to carry this to our new governance commission. I think we need a group of experienced folks who can work well together to make the new commission strong and effective. This will not be an easy task. It will be hard to achieve hoped-for local benefits if the commission is struggling with internal disagreements, with commissioners who are actually opposed to the LCC model, and a mammoth bureaucracy that has trouble letting go.

We need some commissioners who have experience working with a large bureaucracy and who understand what is required of their role. They need to be able to listen to each other, especially those with different views, and find solutions that will allow the commission to get things done. They need to know how to lead, not just how to promote a particular agenda.

Given the above, I will be voting for Gayle Baker. I have known Gayle for many years. We have been fellow dog walkers through the lives of five dogs (between us). Together we created the Salt Spring Community Alliance after the divisive incorporation referendum. We wanted a forum where folks on different sides of community issues could come together, respect and listen to each other, and build understanding and unity. Out of this Gayle built and chaired the governance working group. It consisted of 20 or so people who represented the predominant views on governance for Salt Spring. This group included politicians who were or would be running against each other, as well as pro- and anti-incorporation folks. In two years, with her guidance, the governance group unanimously agreed to recommendations that culminated in the referendum to form an LCC.

Gayle also created the invaluable ASK Salt Spring initiative. For the past four years, every Friday morning, ASK Salt Spring has made our political and community leaders accessible to all Salt Springers.

I have watched Gayle work over the years. She consistently finds a way to make governance and community issues accessible to everyone. She has worked tirelessly, always as a volunteer and on a shoestring, to make things go better for everyone — most recently as the chair of the Salt Spring Island Transportation Commission, which will now be handled by the LCC. Gayle will also bring her seasoned experience working with the CRD bureaucracy, a skill needed by at least some members of the LCC.

Gayle is a true community leader. She does not come to the table representing a particular issue or set of issues. At the same time, she is deeply knowledgeable about many of the issues. She is also well connected to most of our community leadership, this being balanced by giving voice to all citizens by means of ASK Salt Spring.  

One of Gayle’s great strengths is persistence. I have never seen her give up on something she thinks is important. At the same time, she doesn’t dismiss others or undermine their views if they are different from hers.

In my view our fledgling commission needs Gayle Baker.

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