Musselwhite drops out of Shawnigan race, endorses Fraser
Shawnigan Lake candidate Kelly Musselwhite does not want your vote.
Musselwhite, who can’t officially withdraw her candidacy as the deadline has passed, announced Monday she’s stepping aside to endorse candidate Bruce Fraser.
Her decision follows an all-candidates’ meeting Thursday evening at Shawnigan Lake School, hosted by the Shawnigan Residents Association.
“He brings to the table far more than I can,” Musselwhite confessed Monday. “I’ve since come to learn, since the all-candidates’ meeting, I would be cheating this community with moving ahead.
“My goal is to align these two campaigns so that Bruce wins,” she said.
Meanwhile, audience members at Thursday’s ACM, mostly made up of folk against the South Cowichan ECO Depot, had to hold tight in their seats.
The meet-the-candidates session began with candidate introductions before several rounds of questions directed from a six-strong panel, mostly testing the government hopefuls on incorporation, small business, water protection, and arts, culture and recreation funding.
But that wasn’t why most of the 100-or-so audience members were there.
They wanted to talk ECO Depot and weren’t thrilled with waiting.
Before a third round of questions began, an audience member belted out ‘When is the public going to be able to ask questions?’ to cheers and applause.
Grumbles ensued when more panel questions followed.
Shortly thereafter, SRA director and moderator Al Brunet announced they’d cut to public questions and the Cameron-Taggart Group’s Joseph Gollner fired up the melee with a straight yes or no: do you support the proposed ECO Depot on Cameron-Taggart Road.
Both Musselwhite and Fraser gave ‘no’ answers.
Fraser backed his with three points, being location, community opposition and direct conflict with private enterprise.
Incumbent director Ken Cossey tried to shuffle around the question, dealing the “referendum will decide” card.
The crowd urged for a yes or no, but Cossey would only say he supported the proposal to this point.
Candidate Roy Davies also danced, pointing to the referendum as the key to where the answer lies.
“The referendum will be the answer you’re looking for,” he said.
The well-spoken, sometimes comedic candidate Davies encouraged people to get out and vote.
“If a referendum is meaningless, why event vote for CVRD directors?”
Fraser won the hearts of the ECO Depot opposition by expressing his disappointment in the CVRD’s choice to hold the pricey, non-binding public opinion poll.
“It’s the imposition of the larger communities on a community that’s directly affected,” he said. “It may look like democracy on the surface, but it’s not.”
A confident Cossey fired back, backing the referendum and likelihood results would influence a clear path to a final result.
He also eventually confirmed he’d support the community’s referendum choice.
Meanwhile, Musselwhite, who acknowledged the ECO Depot fired her pursuit in politics, passed numerous times on answering questions on topics like Kerry Park Recreation Centre funding, Shawnigan’s Parks and Trails Master Plan, and improving the village’s commercial tax base.
“I have decided to re-focus my efforts in seeking a major change on the CVRD board and fully support (Fraser) as our new director for Shawnigan Lake,” Musselwhite said in a press release.
“Bruce made it very clear at the recent all-candidates’ meeting that he has constructive ideas of how to solve the impasse between the CVRD and residents of the Cameron-Taggart neighbourhood.”
CVRD chief elections officer Kathleen Harrison confirmed Tuesday Musselwhite missed the deadline to withdraw, which was 4 p.m., Oct. 21.
“Kelly will have to get the approval of the minister. She’s sent in her withdrawal letter to us, which will then be passed on to the province, and eventually to the minister for her approval.”
Musselwhite’s name, however, is still expected to appear on the ballot, Nov. 19.
Notable quotes from the Shawnigan Lake all-candidates’ forum:
“(Incorporation) is absolutely essential for this community, but it has to be done carefully,” candidate Dr. Bruce Fraser on incorporation.
“This is where we’d like to see our future growth head. It’s not the Ken Cossey plan. It’s an official community plan,” incumbent director Ken Cossey on Shawnigan portion of the South-Cowichan Official Community Plan.
“Here’s a reminder of that marvelous, biblical philosophy from Proverbs, ‘where there is no vision, the people perish.’ How do we achieve such a vision?” Fraser on a well-functioning community.
“For one dollar in which you invest, you get one dollar and 89 cents returned back to the community,” Cossey on arts and culture funding.
“There are two sides to it. Do we need another position within the government? Probably not. But on the flip side we have to look at it and say ‘are we afraid of what we might find?’” candidate Roy Davies on the province appointing a municipal auditor to ensure local government is behaving responsibly.
“It’s a duplication of a redundant service,” Cossey on a municipal auditor.
“What’s needed in the village is character. There’s absolutely no sense in competing with big box store neighbours,” candidate Fraser on improving the village’s commercial core.
“I don’t have a problem with them leaving but they’re going to have to pay for it,” Cossey on Cowichan Bay choosing to leave the Kerry Park Recreation Centre funding formula.
“There is a major issue in the village that prevents our expansion and business coming in to the village. The biggest single issue in Shawnigan is services,” Davies on lack of a second septic system in the village core.
“I’m starting to realize the reason I’m having some difficulty talking tonight is because I’m looking at all your faces and I’m used to looking at the backs of heads,” Davies, a local barber shop owner and barber.