Chairman Joe may face challenge for leadership of Regional District of Nanaimo board

French Creek rep Joe Stanhope has been chair of the RDN for 14 years; speculation suggests a Nanaimo councillor may challenge him next week

Regional district director Joe Stanhope confirmed he will be vying to keep his title as chair this Tuesday, however, speculation suggests Stanhope may be facing stiff competition from the City of Nanaimo.

Two RDN board members suggested to The NEWS this week that a contender from Nanaimo may throw his or her name into the race for chair. Phone calls and e-mails to Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay, a new RDN representative, were not returned by press time.

Historically, the chair position has been held by an electoral area (rural) director. Stanhope, who represents French Creek, has had the position since 2002. Preceding Stanhope, director George Holme, who represented Nanoose Bay, was chair.

“Yes, I am interested in the position (of chair) and somebody will be nominating me,” Stanhope told The NEWS Wednesday morning. “Nanaimo carries all the weighted vote so it’s got to be balanced between electoral areas and the City of Nanaimo.”

Stanhope would not comment on whether or not he was aware a director from Nanaimo was planning on running.

“Stay tuned,” he said.

Director Bill Veenhof, who ran for the chair position two years ago, said he is “undecided” if he will run again or not.

“Some things are in play,” Veenhof said. “Joe’s done a credible job as chair.”

The RDN board is made up of 17 members: seven from the City of Nanaimo, one each from the City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach and District of Lantzville and one representative each for the seven electoral areas (French Creek, Nanoose Bay, Deep Bay/Bowser, Coombs/Errington, Cedar, Pleasant Valley and Gabriola Island).

The RDN chair will be elected by the board in a majority rule secret ballot vote at the inaugural meeting slated for Tuesday.

RDN administrative services manager Jacquie Hill said the chair represents the entire board, acts as a dignitary at ceremonies and appoints directors to different committees. The chair’s remuneration is also increased to $19,500 in addition to his or her base rate as a board member.

Established in 1967, the RDN is British Columbia’s fifth most populous regional district, of 28 throughout the province, and home to more than 140,000 people.