The voter turnout in Nelson Saturday tells you everything you need to know about the 2011 municipal election: 33.3 per cent. It wasn’t too long ago this community was winning awards at the UBCM for its participation in democracy with numbers that hovered in the 70s.
Though there is no excuse for not taking the opportunity to exercise this cherished right, in this case the 66.7 per cent can be forgiven. It was hardly an inspiring campaign.
Until Richard Rowberry finishes his John Houston research project and turns some of what he learned in this election campaign into theatre, the race to become Nelson’s mayor will be remembered as one to forget. And when it comes to the ballot in the city, it’s the mayor’s race that fuels the passion at the polls.
The biggest news of the night was the results in Areas E and F. Incumbents Ron Mickel (Area F) and Ramona Faust (Area E) were returned to the RDCK board and you could hear a sigh of relief from City Hall.
The decisive victories by these one-term candidates should bode well for the entire region. Over the last three years, Faust and Mickel have shown an openness to work with city politicians that has not been felt in many years.
Challengers Josh Smienk (Area E) and Mike Keegan (Area F) represented what we hope is an outdated model. At the core of their campaign was a tax revolt and more subtly an indication that relations with the city would return to the icy old days. Leading a tax revolt is easy — even a washed up, disgraced former premier was made a hero in the HST fight — so this is clearly a statement from residents of Nelson’s closest neighbourhoods.
Kudos to those who voted to stay the course of a more reasoned relationship with the city. In these challenging times, it’s better to work together than rip each other to shreds.
Given the choices we had, those that did make their vote count picked wisely. We don’t expect peace and harmony at City Hall or the RDCK for all three years, but those who we have chosen to lead us have the tools to deliver a better future.