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Siegers’ early mayoral bid draws criticism

Siegers’ early mayoral bid draws criticism

Sechelt Councillor Darnelda Siegers’ early announcement that she plans to run for mayor in the next municipal election has not been warmly welcomed by some of her fellow council members.

Siegers announced during the Oct. 5 Council meeting that she was “putting [her] name forward as a candidate for mayor of the District of Sechelt in the next municipal election in 2018.”

Announcing a candidacy two years in advance is rare in B.C. local politics, where candidates usually wait to make their intentions public only months before the November elections.

Mayor Bruce Milne told the Local that announcing so soon could have a negative effect on the functioning of Council.

“She was elected to be a councillor, so she’s undermined that in some very unusual ways, and she has also deepened the existing distrust between her and the rest of Council in ways that I don’t think was necessary,” Milne said. “Every time Councillor Siegers makes a decision or speaks up or wants to grandstand, people will be saying, ‘is this in the interest of the community, is this part of her role on Council, or is this part of her political ambition?’”

Councillor Noel Muller had a similar reaction.

“This announcement attempts to put us into ‘silly season’ two years early, and will possibly distract from the very important work we still need to complete for Sechelt,” Muller said. “I don’t feel we can afford to be distracted by internal politics in our current challenging situation.”

When asked why she was making her intentions known so soon, Siegers, a former high school teacher and now an independent mortgage broker, said “there are people in the community who have indicated that they would consider running for council if they knew who some of the candidates were for mayor. So I thought this would give them a great head start.”

But Milne said that he sees other reasons behind Siegers’ unexpected announcement.

“It was not surprising in the sense that Councillor Siegers and a few others, including [former mayor] John Henderson, her mentor, have never accepted the results of the 2014 election,” said Milne, who defeated Henderson by a wide margin.

Councillor Alice Lutes also reacted to Siegers’ news with dismay, saying that, “to divide a working council and begin an election campaign this far advanced of an election is very disruptive for staff, mayor and council and does not serve the citizens of Sechelt well.”

Councillor Doug Wright said that “overall [the announcement] is poor political etiquette, if there is such a thing.”

The two other members of council, Darren Inkster and Mike Shanks, declined to comment.

Siegers also noted at the Oct. 5 Council meeting that months ago, she had “filled out papers” to seek the local candidacy for the Liberal Party in the May 2017 provincial election. She said in an interview that she decided to withdraw her name from contention for the Liberal nomination after she was recently asked whether it was “as an MLA or as a mayor, that would I make the most difference to the community I live in. That did it,” she said.

Siegers was first elected to Council in 2011 and won re-election in 2014.

Rik Jespersen

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