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Victoria Municipality 2014 Midterm Elections Essay

Introduction

The objective of this study is finding out whether the actual major of Victoria would be re-elected again. Well, the elections held on November 15, 2014, provided quite interesting results. Victoria City is in the province of British Columbia in the state of Canada. It is popularly known for its calm gardens and its charm and cleanliness. Victoria is a city that is a very good business center because of its location at the Southern tip of Vancouver. This makes it near the U.S markets and an access point to the Pacific Rim. It also has many links to the air and sea transport, which also favor a business atmosphere.

A census done in 2011 recorded Victoria’s population to be 80,017 and estimated its area to be 19.47 square miles. Victoria was declared a city in 1862 and it became the capital of British Columbia in 1871. The local government of Victoria holds municipal elections every four years.

However, after this election held in 2014, this trend will end and elections will henceforth be held after every three years1. Therefore, the next elections shall be held in 2017. The city council consists of 1 mayor and 8 councilors. It falls under the authority of the province of British Columbia.

The local government is very important in the everyday lives of citizens all over Canada. The duties of local governments vary from one province to another. Generally, they deal with protecting the people’s property by managing policies and services such as firefighting. They also manage and maintain the local transport means and utilities such as sewerage, electricity, and water. They take care of public welfare services such as health and develop parks and recreation services.

The local governments maintain the smooth flow of activities by collecting revenue through taxation. The main source of tax is from the real estate.

The issuance of building permits and licenses for businesses are also taxed. The local governments also charge for the public services they provide such as for recreation and parks and through fining. They also receive funding from the other levels of government. A form of local government is a municipal government found mainly in cities that usually have high populations. An example is Victoria City. The municipalities have a council that runs the daily activities made up of a mayor and eight councillors who are elected by the people. This makes them solely accountable to the people who put them in office. The councilors are each given a neighborhood for which they act as liaisons.

During this year’s elections, a number of issues were addressed and numerous debates ensued. For example, the nationwide debate of the legalization of marijuana is a discussion that is still ongoing even now. However, a more local issue among the people in Victoria is the issue of the dumping of raw sewage directly in to the waterways in Victoria and Canada in general. This debate regarding the Victoria sewage has been discussed for many decades and is still regarded as a menace.

Raw sewerage is in reference to all manner of waste from industries and households that is not treated. It is estimated that Canada dumps up to 200 billion liters of sewerage every year. This sewage is deposited in the direct waterways from St. Lawrence River to the Pacific Ocean and the Strait Juan de Fuca. This amount is considered quite a lot going into the ocean and rivers without being treated causing much harm to the ocean life. Victoria alone dumps 34 billion liters in a year into the Strait of Juan de Puca. The debate currently ongoing concerns the question of what to do with the completely dumping situation. Is the solution to build treatment plants to treat the waste before it is thrown into the ocean, or what is supposed to be done to all the waste that is generated that is entirely unavoidable?

Officials in Victoria said that the system that was in place was working very well and had no problems. They claimed that the regulators had been misinformed and the suggestion to build a new plant to treat waste would be unreasonable. The waste generated in Victoria is treated to a small extent. Only the solid wastes are removed and there is no treatment for the toxins and chemicals that are present resonating from the industries and households in form of detergents and so forth. The argument provided for this is that the waste would be diluted by the waters of the ocean. However, diluting waste does not solve the problem.

This condition has gone on for a very long time, with Victoria being dubbed the one city that will not improve on its sewerage treatment plans. This situation prompted the involvement of the federal regulators. It also reached and extent where in 2014, Washington demanded the provincial government of British Columbia to act upon the issue. Washington urged British Columbia to stop delaying the building of the plant that would treat the sewerage beyond the screening process. The British Columbian government responded to Washington after more than a month. It said that treatment would certainly happen.

 

This has generated response from Victoria’s local politicians, such as Dean Fortin and Lisa Helps, who have also tried to come up with solutions to this problem. This issue has directly affected the electoral process and elections because as a result, less people care about political and municipal issues and more and more people care about their wellbeing and the environment. This has resulted in low turnout of voters during elections.6 Regarding this issue, Dean Fortin, was of the opinion that many residents are against channeling the waste into the ocean. He therefore proposed that the elected leaders should have a forum in which they would listen to the residents of Victoria and through, this come up with a viable solution. This seems to be a rather sound proposal.

The local elections for Victoria municipality were held successfully on November 15, 2014. The available seats were contested. The seat for mayor was contested by eight candidates. These were Changes the Clown otherwise known as Robert Duncan, Dean Fortin, Lisa Helps, Ida Chong, Stephen Andrew, Jason Ross, R. Godron, and David Shebib. R. Godron got 33 votes, David Shebib got 62 votes, Jason Ross got 132 votes, and Robert Duncan got 253 votes. Stephen Andrew got 2380 votes and Ida Chong 3275 votes. The two top candidates were neck to neck with Lisa Helps winning the seat of Mayor with 9200 votes. She defeated Dean Fortin with 89 votes. Dean Fortin had 9111 votes. This year, the voter turnout was at 39%. There was an increase in the voter turnout this year from 26% in 2011. This may be said to be as a result of Lisa Helps who had made it her goal to increase the turnout of voters in the elections.

This study was geared to find out if Dean Fortin would be re-elected a second time. As stated earlier, the elections bore interesting results. Dean Fortin lost the elections to Lisa Helps. Fortin had served as Mayor of Victoria since 2008, as the 51st mayor. He was again reelected in 2011.

During this time, he has driven tie initiative to provide affordable housing to the people of Victoria. He successfully saw the development of 600 units of houses. He also saw the development of green transportation strategy that would help meet the needs of the Victoria city and its surroundings. He has also helped establish a youth center in Burnside Gorge and developed the Burnside community through the family center and Community School. During his term as Mayor, he has taken Victoria forward and helped in developing Victoria into the dynamic city it is now.

The failure of Fortin to win the election could be attributed to the many attacks he received throughout the election period. For example, he was criticized for supporting the project to replace the Johnson Street Project. Helps in contrast was against the project and hence was saved from such criticism. Fortin was caught in a situation where he was mostly playing defense in his campaigns and in turn had little chance to attack in full capacity and seek votes for reelection. However, though dejected by the loss, he said that the municipality was in good state and that he hoped the new management would improve it and take the city of Victoria even further10. The winner of the elections, Lisa Helps, was a first-time councilor who announced her bid to run for mayor on January 1. She intends to improve the city’s affordable housing, sewage treatment, and green building practices and take the city to greater heights.

From this case study, there are several lessons to be learnt on democracy and the impact of local elections to the people. In her campaign strategy, Helps was of the opinion that local politics was very good for the people. This is because it makes people feel that they are at the focal point of everything and are in control.

This is in actual sense, one lesson that can be learnt from the local elections held in Victoria. The number of people who came out to vote increased from the previous elections. This showed that more people now believe in the local process of elections. It also shows that people are accepting their voting responsibility and the importance of coming out and voting for your leaders. This sense of responsibility is important because the city, region, or even the state can only go ahead if there are competent leaders in place. These competent leaders will only get to work in their respective offices once they are elected in by the people they intend to serve.

In addition, another lesson to be learnt is that the youth form the backbone of any society. This means that it is very important for the youth to take part in the events that are directly related to them, including voting. Voting is a basic human right that the youth should embrace with both arms. The presence of the youth in the voting process is encouraging. It is also a show that the local leaders in conjunction with the people in the community are playing a great role in encouraging the youth to vote and participate in these matters.

Another lesson that can be learnt from these local elections is from the number of candidates that vied for the various positions of mayor and councilors. There were very many candidates, a show that people do believe in the institutions in the society. This teaches us that with good leaders who uphold the institutions of the land with diligence and dignity, then there is bound to be progress. The many candidates who availed themselves to be elected also teach a lesson in democracy. Anyone has the right to contest for a political seat so long as one meets the requirements set by the law of the land.

In a state or a region that practices democracy, it is important to realize that the principles of democracy are being upheld and are not set aside in any way. One of the major tenets in a democracy is to have free and fair elections held periodically. From this case study, it is quite visible that the elections held were free and were fair to all. They were held in a civil manner with transparency. This is also evidenced by Helps in her comment after her win in which she attributed her success to democracy in the grassroots. This is quite a show of good faith and an important lesson to all people who voted and especially to those who did not vote.

In conclusion, the elections held on November 15, 2014 in Victoria had no disputes. The candidate of my choice lost the Mayoral position. However, he accepted his loss gracefully and stepped aside to give Lisa Helps the way to lead the city and the people of Victoria. It was an interesting election to follow with twists and turns including that entry of Chong to the list of candidates made it unlikely that Helps would win. The odds were in favor of Fortin, but in the end Helps, the unlikely choice, won. This goes to show that in a democracy, where the power lies with the people, anything can happen and anyone can win an election.

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