Don White News Nanaimo

Follow me as I assess the field of council candidates

This is the first part of a series where I will share with you my process and selections for Nanaimo's municipal election on October 20
There’s something of a received convention — at least among pundits wishing to be known for being objective — of not explicitly telling readers how to vote.

Exhorting the electorate to show up at the ballet box is fine. Elaborating on strengths or foibles of particular candidates is quite acceptable. But if you want a reputation of being non-partisan – and most journalists do – you don’t come right out and name names of whom you think voters should be favouring.

Which is all well and good. Hard to argue with keeping bias to a minimum. Besides, few voters — including me — want to be told where to cast their vote. We get enough of that from candidates and their campaign teams. Like most, I want to make up my own mind, using my own criteria.

The convention that journalists shouldn’t back certain candidates is noble, but with a field this large we need a way to winnow out the chaff.

But not everyone has the time or inclination to do the research needed to make an informed assessment of every candidate in the running. Especially if the field is large. With 4 individuals announced as running for mayor and 40 running for councillor in the 2018 Nanaimo municipal election, that’s a ratio of four and five candidates for every available position. What’s needed by everyone is a reasonable basis to narrow the field, a way to winnow out the chaff.

At this point, I really have no idea of the identities of all those that I will pick. So I couldn’t make nine specific recommendations to you even if I wanted. However, I’ve always used writing to nail down my thoughts about issues like this, and it occurs to me that if I write here about my own sorting of the candidates, it might prove useful to others who are doing the same.

Over the next weeks, I’ll use the factors I consider important to gauge everyone who’s running. I’ll assess who meets my criteria and who falls away. I may not successfully reduce the number to exactly the number of positions available. I may wind up with more, or less. If more than eight councillors and one mayoralty candidate make it through and I’ve sorted accurately, it shouldn’t be a problem. My selecting any candidate from my short list should make for a winning situation. If there are less candidates than needed, I’ll have more work to do.

Next week, I’ll begin by organizing the candidates for council into manageable chunks. I won’t include the School Board — not that I think it’s unimportant — for now, I’ll leave that to you or others more knowledgable than me regarding those positions. And if my sorting strategy works, it should be portable. It should also be useful for selecting the best people for the School Board.

Starting with the candidates for Councillor in Nanaimo, I’ll first consider the incumbents. Then, I’ll sort the non-incumbents. While the same criteria will apply to both, the evidence to evaluate may differ for the groups. The incumbents have a track record of their performance on Nanaimo council; the non-incumbents don’t. Evaluating the latter may involve more speculation. Not so for the mayor, which I’ll look at second. Since Bill McKay has decided not to run, all mayoralty candidates are non-incumbents. There’s no need to break them into separate groups.

That’s it. Hope to see you here later in the week for the first selection.

About the author

Don White

Don White

Don moved to Nanaimo from the BC Lower Mainland almost five years ago, but has visited the Island regularly for more than thirty years. He considers local government to be a crucial factor in determining not only our quality of life, but also our efforts to protect and responsibly develop this beautiful but vulnerable setting we live in. This view became his motivation for continuing to inform and engage Nanaimo voters.


Click here to post a comment

  • I’ve always valued your opinions and straightforward approach to issues. I look forward to reading your evaluations and will be interested to see if they jibe with mine!

  • I look forward to your comments. As so much has happened in-camera this term and is for the most part hearsay, will you be using an examination of the voting record of the incumbent Council candidates on the major issues during their present tenure in your observations?

  • I anxiously await your next installment. 40 candidates for Council is far too many for most of us to select from. The number of candidates for Mayor is much easier to deal with.

  • Well Don, good for you. With 40 candidates the ballot is going to look like it a roll of toilet paper it’s going to need to be so longer. Voters need good information to make informed choices. If the last Council have demonstrated anything it’s that the voters are stuck with whom ever they choose; good, bad and just plain ugly for 4 years with no recourse.

    Any assistance is sorely needed and greatly appreciated.

    Many people tell me how disappointed they were in the gang of 5. Sadly , I wasn’t surprised at all. The voters got exactly what I expected, but then,I knew the players better than most.

    Choose wisely. Thanks Don.

    • Jerry Berry:

      I could not agree with you more about the assistance that will be needed during this election and also deplore the fact that the Province has mandated four year terms without recourse.

      But can you enlighten me about the “gang of 5”. I thought that five was what it took to decide nearly all motions in Council. If five Councillors agree on those motions then where is the democratic fault? While I may or may not like these circumstances, depending on my prejudices, they are what they are under Community Charter. How many basic philosophic approaches to governing do we have in Nanaimo, in BC or in Canada? Should the minority govern? Or What are you suggesting??

      • Ron; Your response to Jerry Berry seems disingenuous. Anyone who has spent a modicum of time reading about or following our council knows that “Gang of Five” (of Fab Five at times used by some} refers to 5 specific aldermen who have generated most of the controversy and rage amongst the citizens. To suggest that since they form the majority it is perfectly acceptable seems intended to confuse the issue.

      • Ron, why would you give a hoot about any opinion that Jerry Berry might have about “basic philosophic approaches to governing”? What he may think about such an ‘inside baseball’ topic is totally irrelevant. My suggestion would be that one should educate themselves about anything that Mr. Berry says or recommends, then do the opposite.

  • Don…. thank you in advance for all the work you are going to be doing…. I look forward to seeing all you write. I much appreciate help in sifting through the 40 go come up with 8 …. so far I am up to 3 confirmed and one likely …. 🙁 Looking forward to your articles…

  • I’m looking forward to your assessments of the many candidates. I am hearing so many people say they want to vote every single councillor out of office but it seems to me that we tried that in the last election (with a few exceptions) and look what happened. Thanks for your good work!

  • THANK YOU Mr. White. I was hoping you would take on this monster and help us to decide by using your journalistic expertise to weed out fact from fiction. My list of all candidate is made and already I have two in the no column. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.


  • Not really surprised, but, troubling that not one single candidate, for our municipal election, makes any mention of the child poverty rate (above provincial average at 1:4) in Nanaimo or that there is any support/interest/awareness of initiatives related to community involvement in “early years” development.

  • I think that news nanaimo has been the best source of information over the past few years. We citizens have moved from amusement to outrage, and finally to action. This is why so many have entered the race. Grill all candidates on their SPECIFIC plans for the city, as well as their funding sources. I am running, and look forward to a coffee with you at some point.

    • Rick Smith, your financial disclosure form shows that you have investments in two cannabis companies. Do you personally use cannabis products in any form during your activities of daily living?

  • Thanx Don,i think YOU should RUN for MAYOR ,ya sound like an HONEST SOUL !because NO MATTER who gets in theres alway gonna be brown nosin goin on !-And 1 issue i think NEEDS TO BE RESOLVED IS -GETTIN THOSE JEHOVAS OFF OF PUBLIC PROPERTY -if they wanna believe FINE ,but DO IT OUTTA MY FACE and in the privacy of their SO CALLED KINGDOM HALL!This bullshit GRANDFATHER clause has got to go ,ENOUGH of this ENTITLEMENT CRAP -i as well as MANY OTHERS dont like POLITICS ,especially RELIGIOUS POLITICS SHOVED IN MY FACE EVERY TIME I GO FOR A WALK !-Any one else agree ?

  • I voted last Wednesday in advanced polling. Krog was a given. I read your most recent final choices and found that I think very much the same as you and I voted before I read your final choices. We think alike. Thanks, you reassured me I made the right choices.