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Hailey back in the political saddle

Former North Cowichan councillor Melissa Hailey rode your companion Buckley the mini-horse to the council table in the town of Sidney this weekend. - Michelle Thompson/file
Former North Cowichan councillor Melissa Hailey rode your companion Buckley the mini-horse to the council table in the town of Sidney this weekend.
— image credit: Michelle Thompson/file

Two hairy friends carried former North Cowichan councillor Melissa Hailey to a Sidney town council seat Saturday.

Miniature horses Buckley and Winnie helped Hailey on the hustings where she earned 1,347 votes — and a chair on incumbent Mayor Larry Cross’ six-member council.

“People absolutely loved them,” Sidney’s youngest councillor said of helping hooves from her neighbour’s horse Winnie, and Hailey’s live-in buddy, Buckley.

“Most people who voted for me really voted for Buckley,” 20-something Hailey said.

Some folks, she noted, remembered her and Buckley from media stories, starting in 2007, about councillor Hailey flouting North Cowichan bylaws banning a farm animal, Buckley, in a residential neighbourhood.

Hailey was elected in 2005 as North Cowichan’s — and Canada’s — youngest councillor.

She sought re-election in 2008 and lost during the Buckley fracas.

Before, during, and after that vote, North Cow taxpayers spent about $11,000 in legal bills combatting Hailey’s bylaw infraction.

Eventually she and Buckley moved to their present Saanichton home in the municipal District of of Central Saanich.

Central Saanich’s bylaw officer confirmed Hailey lives on agricultural land properly zoned for having Buckley at home.

North Cow’s mayor-elect, Jon Lefebure, wished kayak-company owner Hailey well on Sidney council.

“She got another chance and will hopefully do very well.”

Hailey was thankful for election help from her equine friends.

“Politics is supposed to be a horse race,” she joked.

“With horses, it made it a lot more user-friendly for people to approach me and start conversations, on a friendly note, about their issues in Sidney.”

Buckley was unavailable for comment by press time.

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