Stephen Harris

Stephen Harris

CORE candidates have no common platform, organizer says

But they will apply the group’s four principles in their own way

The five candidates of a new civic political party in Nelson have no specific common platform, says one of the group’s organizers.

“They are independent,” said Stephen Harris. “They have different interests and political views. Each has their own ideas and things that are important to them.”

CORE stands for the Committee of Responsible Electors. It’s an elector organization registered in Nelson under the name of local businessman Andrew Cowan. CORE has put forward a slate of candidates — Cal Renwick, Travis Hauck, Michelle Hillaby, Brian Shields and Stephanie Wiggins — for city council in the upcoming election. It was predicated on the perception that the current council was not providing adequate leadership and needed to be replaced.

Because the CORE candidates have no common philosophy, they will not vote as a block on council if they are elected, Harris said, adding that the candidates were not asked about their political views when CORE vetted them.

“We had a conversation with everyone, but we did not talk about their political leanings, whether they are a lifetime NDP or Conservative voter. That is not important. People try to make those assumptions [that it is a conservative group] but it is clearly wrong.”

He said many civic decisions, such as when to plow the streets, are not left- or right-wing issues.

But he also stated that the group wants a variety of candidates to counter what he sees as a left-wing trend in Nelson politics.

“In the past we have seen NDP-[friendly] candidates. In Nelson they do pretty well, they tend to get elected.”

However, the CORE slate includes one candidate — Brian Shields — who has described himself as left of centre.

“The entire point of CORE is to help good people who otherwise would not run or get elected, get elected,” Harris said. “That is the problem in this town: you get the same kind of people running, people who are retired, people who have lots of money and time on their hands. People like Travis or Stephanie or Michelle don’t have the background on how to get signs, do door-knocking, find volunteers.”

Those election mechanics are the main thing CORE is doing for its candidates, Harris said. They are also providing them with campaign funding.

Harris gave an example from the 2014 election of a candidate who could have used CORE’s help.

“Justin Pelant, business owner, smart, well liked, respected, did not get elected because he is not a political guy with the background and support to get him elected. So we want to get people elected.”

Even though they have no common platform as such, Harris said the candidates subscribe to CORE’s four lenses: fiscal responsibility, civic pride, core service focus and economic growth.

Responding to the suggestion that those lenses could be seen as generic enough for any of the 19 candidates to agree with, Harris said, “We have to have some framework for how we make decisions. How they apply these lenses is for each candidate [to decide] on every issue.”