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EDITORIAL: Voter call for change a big opportunity for communities

Both Parksville and Qualicum Beach have new mayors
(PQB News file art)

The voters spoke loudly and clearly on Oct. 15.

They wanted change, especially in the mayoralty races.

Parksville has a new mayor in Doug O’Brien.

O’Brien, who previously served as a city councillor, handily defeated incumbent Ed Mayne, 2,695 votes to 1,225.

“The people of Parksville indicated early on that they were supporting a change in the election,” O’Brien said. “I think that came through loud and clear.”

Mayne saw it a little differently.

“I’m not sure what the people were looking for,” Mayne said. “Except the people of Parksville never vote somebody in, they vote out, is what the tradition is here.”

Qualicum Beach also has a “new” mayor in former mayor Teunis Westbroek.

He also cruised to a victory by a large margin, receiving 2,819 votes, good for 63.3 per cent of the total, compared to 1,565 for incumbent Brian Wiese.

“I want to delete everything that happened that I am not very happy with and start fresh,” said Westbroek, who was previously mayor of Qualicum Beach for six terms. “That’s what I want to offer this council that’s coming up and our community and our staff that we have a new day of fresh approach. And let’s forget what we didn’t like so much about each other and look at the positive things.”

A fresh start may be exactly what’s needed in Qualicum Beach, with the last term proving a sometimes difficult one with perceived in-fighting.

READ MORE: Full election coverage here

In Parksville, there are also five new councillors, indicating voters definitely wanted a fresh start in the city as well.

Regional District of Nanaimo voters were seemingly more happy with their governance, as Leanne Salter in Electoral Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington) and Lehann Wallace Electoral Area G (Dashwood, Englishman River, French Creek) both returning to their positions.

So what does it all mean? The answer is, of course, we’ll see.

We’ve mentioned previously it’s of paramount importance for the leaders to understand they are tasked with governing the entire city or town, not just the folks who happened to vote for or agree with them.

We should know in short order what the primary objectives are for the new councils and their direction. We hope again they’ll be guided by the best possible information, not by the loudest special-interest groups.

A clean slate can be exciting, invigorating and bring a sense of renewal.

Let’s hope they make the best of this opportunity afforded them by voters.

Lastly, let’s not forget that, regardless of your politics, the outgoing politicians and other candidates who put their names forward deserve a mention and our thanks.

It’s not an easy job, especially given the lack of civility that can be found online these days, and simply running as a candidate is a remarkable measure of community service.

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