PHOTO: Courtenay Councilor David Frisch will seek a second term to finish work on transportation, zoning and the city’s downtown core (See story below)
With just 257 days before Comox Valley voters choose the 29 elected officials who will run local governments and school district through 2022, only a few people have declared their candidacy.
That’s not unusual for this community, where candidates historically wait until summer to announce they are running. But it’s not the norm in other communities.
In the Capital Regional District, for example, most of the 13 incumbent mayors have announced their plans to stand for re-election.In a Decafnation survey of the Valley’s three municipalities, only four incumbents say they definitely plan to seek office again: Courtenay’s Erik Eriksson and David Frisch, Comox Valley Regional District Area B Director Rod Nicol and School District 71 Board Chair Janice Caton.
FURTHER READING: David Frisch, “There’s a lot of work to do” — (SEE BELOW); Eriksson to seek mayor’s chair.
No one from Comox Town Council replied.
Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula said his decision whether to run again weighed on several factors.
“It is far too early to make any decisions now,” he said. “I will make my mind up in the summer.”
In reference to City Council member Eriksson, who announced in October that he would seek Jangula’s mayoralty seat, the incumbent said, “It is very distracting when people indicate they are running a year away from an election. It takes everyone’s mind away from what they are doing and it politicizes every decision made at Council.”
Jangula said his decision will be based on a number of factors including his wife’s health, his health and “an examination of who might be running.”
Eriksson said, “I just had to get my campaign started. It takes time to put together a successful support team for the mayor’s office.”
Courtenay councilor Rebecca Lennox said she’s undecided.
“The opportunity to serve on council has been life-changing and I am so honoured to have had this experience,” she said. “Being diagnosed with cancer half-way through this term has definitely changed many things for me.
“At this point I am undecided whether I will run for a second term, and will see how I feel and how my results are looking nearer the time.” she said.
Cumberland’s Roger Kishi says he’s leaning toward running, but will decide in the spring.
Jesse Kelter, also a Cumberland councillor, said she has not decided “one way or the other about running in the next election.”
“As you can imagine, as a parent of young children and a professional it is a very tricky balance to give so much time to Council and all the committees that go along with it,” she said. “I have a lot of things to weigh ….”
School District 71 Trustee Cliff Boldt said he and his wife, Maureen, were mulling over a re-election bid, but that there were “lots of considerations.” He hasn’t decided yet.
Former NDP hopeful for the provincial Comox Valley riding, Kiyoshi Kosky said he’s also considering a run at municipal office.
David Frisch hopes to finish zoning, transportation work
First-term Courtenay Council Member David Frisch didn’t originally intend to seek a second term.
“I thought I would do a shift,” he said. “But I discovered it takes so long to do things; I’d feel like I was quitting now. There’s a lot of work to do.”
In his first term, Frisch has focused on two primary issues: zoning and transportation.
“That’s the core of what we do,” he said. “The roots of what we have today go so far back, to the Joseph McPhee layout of the city in the late 1800s, that it’s a big weight to move now.”
But Frisch believes the current council has made dramatic and positive shifts in the city’s direction. He points to the fact that council now approves all development applications and questions the value of each application to the city’s future and the Regional Growth Strategy.
He sees his role in supporting that shift in direction as one of the accomplishments of his first term.
“We’ve steered developers toward multi-unit projects and opened the door to secondary suites,” Frisch said. “There’s no easier or better mechanism to get affordable housing.”
Frisch has championed the creation of multi-use lanes. Three years ago, he pushed for protected bike lanes on Willemar Avenue, which is a corridor for three public schools. But he couldn’t move council at the time, “It was too progressive for them.”
But three years later, those bike lanes are in the transportation plan.
Frisch sits on the Comox Valley Regional District Integrated Resource Transportation Select Committee whose two main goals are: one, to create a multi-use path for bicycles, scooters and walkers along the Dyke Road; and, two, to establish a single point of contact for future transportation initiatives between municipalities.
If he’s re-elected next fall, Frisch says he will pursue more transportation and zoning solutions. He’s particularly excited about creating a scooter/cycling plan to help people move through all of west Courtenay. He envisions a grid of pathways connecting Willermar, Fitzgerald and Cliffe avenues.
And he’s not limiting his transportation vision to traditional infrastructure. Frisch believes the city can have important transportation corridors that aren’t on existing roadways. He points to the Rotary Trail alongside the E&N rail tracks and the Courtenay River Trail as examples of alternate ways for people to move around their community.
After becoming engrossed in these issues and seeing how long it takes to make progress, Frisch admits the work “might take a lifetime to do.”
But for now, he’s simply committing himself to serve a second term.