British Columbia

37 candidates for mayor in B.C. win automatically after standing unopposed

Nomination information collected by non-profit group CivicInfo B.C. shows 37 B.C. mayoral candidates automatically won after the nomination period closed on Sept. 9.

Mike Hurley in Burnaby, Brad West in Port Coquitlam among those who won by acclamation a month before election

Port Coquitlam's Brad West is one of the 37 candidates who automatically won B.C. mayoral races without opponents before election day on Oct. 15, according to information from CivicInfo B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Municipal elections are still more than a month away, but mayors for dozens of communities across B.C. have already won by acclamation after standing unopposed.

Nomination information collated by non-profit group CivicInfo B.C. shows 37 B.C. mayoral candidates automatically won after the nomination period closed on Sept. 9 at 4 p.m.

Among them were Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley and Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, both of whom got second terms.

West says his unopposed victory wasn't what he expected, and he had been prepared for a full campaign ahead of election day on Oct. 15.

He says it's hard to speculate on why no other candidates put their names forward this time, but he's "incredibly proud" of what his city has accomplished in the past four years.

"We have delivered significant investments in recreation amenities in the city," he told Gloria Macarenko, the host of CBC's On The Coast. "It's the largest capital project our city has ever taken on — we delivered it on time, on budget; it's been extremely well received."

West also boasts that his municipality has the third lowest average property tax across the Metro Vancouver area and its first-ever climate change plan that focuses on creating alternatives to commuting by vehicle.

For the first time in Port Coquitlam's history, its mayor has been acclaimed. Port Coquitlam's Mayor Brad West can now coast during the election campaign if he likes. He chats with us from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Conference in Whistler.

Like West, Barbara Roden won her second term as the mayor of Ashcroft by acclamation. She says many people have come to her with congratulations, and she looks forward to seeing who will win the four councillor seats in her municipality next month.

"Whoever ends up coming [and] getting one of those four seats, it's going to be a great council moving forward," she said.

Barbara Roden won a second term as Ashcroft mayor by acclamation. (Tom Popyk/CBC)
Barbara Roden will be the mayor of Ashcroft for yet another term.

Sheri Disney automatically won the mayoral race in Masset on Haida Gwaii and is set to replace the incumbent Barry Pages. 

A member of the Haida nation, Disney is the first Indigenous person to get the village's top job. The mayor-elect says she feels her victory helps inspire others in her community to run for public office.

And she remains humble: "I am excited, and I also am very much aware of all the things that I don't know."

Sheri Disney won the mayoral election in Masset on Haida Gwaii by acclamation, becoming the village's first Indigenous person to get the top job. (Sheri Disney, EXP, Haida Gwaii Specialist/Facebook)

Mayors who won by acclamation

It's not uncommon for mayors to win by acclamation, and CivicInfo B.C.'s executive director Todd Pugh says that in 2018, 36 B.C. mayors were elected without contest.

However, Ann Dale, an environmental sustainability studies professor at Royal Roads University in Victoria with expertise in municipal governance, says she is "gobsmacked" by the number of mayoral candidates winning uncontested, which she says shows the depth of people's disengagement from municipal politics and the feeling they cannot make a difference by running for public office.

She says it's not good for democracy.

"If you don't have enough people interested to run and if you don't have a critical diversity of representation in the municipal councils, then you won't get the local communities represented.

"If you've got the same kind of people running all of the time, then where is the innovation? Where is the creativity? Where are the voices that are so often not heard at the political table?"

Here is the complete list of B.C. mayors who won by acclamation this year:

  • Dennis Buchanan, Alert Bay.
  • Joe Craner, Armstrong.
  • Barbara Roden, Ashcroft.
  • Ward Stamer, Barriere.
  • Mike Hurley, Burnaby.
  • Ryan Windsor, Central Saanich.
  • Ruth Hoyte, Coldstream.
  • Nicole Minions, Comox.
  • Michelle Staples, Duncan.
  • Sarrah Storey, Fraser Lake.
  • Steve Morissette, Fruitvale.
  • Linda McGuire, Granisle.
  • Ken Williams, Highlands.
  • Shane Brienen, Houston.
  • Allen Miller, Invermere.
  • Maureen Pinkney, 100 Mile House.
  • Sylvia Pranger, Kent.
  • Don McCormick, Kimberley.
  • Phil Germuth, Kitimat.
  • Aaron Stone, Ladysmith.
  • Sheri Disney, Masset.
  • Alan Raine, Mountain Resort Municipality.
  • Tom Zeleznik, Nakusp.
  • Kevin Murdoch, Oak Bay.
  • Martin Johansen, Oliver.
  • Nicole MacDonald, Pitt Meadows.
  • Scott Cabianca, Port Clements.
  • Brad West, Port Coquitlam.
  • Mark Baker, Sayward.
  • Cliff McNeil-Smith, Sidney.
  • Colin Ferguson, Silverton.
  • Christine Fraser, Spallumcheen.
  • Sean Bujtas, Terrace.
  • Dan Law, Tofino.
  • Owen Torgerson, Valemount.
  • Ed Coleman, Wells.
  • Julie Colborne, Zeballos.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta-Canadian Press News Fellowship, which is not involved in the editorial process.

With files from CBC's On The Coast, Daybreak Kamloops, Matt Allen and Jessica Cheung

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