Saanich group wants to break mayor’s slate

Break The Slate has denounced the slate headed by Mayor Richard Atwell as undemocratic and unfair

A registered third-party group wants to the ‘break the slate’ that is running in Saanich.

Merie Beauchamp said Break The Slate represents a group of concerned Saanich residents, who do not want to see United for Saanich gain office.

“We don’t think there is a place for [party politics] at the municipal level,” said Beauchamp.

RELATED: Mayor heads Saanich slate

Mayor Richard Atwell earlier this year announced that he would be heading United for Saanich, which he described as a “non-partisan slate” that also includes incumbent Coun. Karen Harper, and three non-incumbent candidates: Kathleen Burton, executive director of Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary; Ian Jessop, a former political spokesperson and broadcaster; and Cory Montgomery, a local businessman.

Atwell, who earlier said he is “proud to run” with this “highly qualified group,” has consistently defended the slate as a necessity. “We cannot afford a repeat of the past, where we simply decide, we are going to pick a random assortment of people, and hope that it works out,” said Atwell last month, during the first all-candidates’ forum. He has made a similar point at other forums.

The group — which Elections BC lists as a third-party sponsoring organization — is currently soliciting donations. “Every dollar you donate will be used to champion the independents and fight Richard Atwell and his slate,” it reads on the group’s site.

RELATED: Saanich mayoral candidates clash over leadership

Beauchamp said she agreed with Atwell said about slates four years ago, when he stressed his political independence and said slates have “devastated municipal politics” including Saanich’s in attacking the slate headed by then-mayor Frank Leonard, whom Atwell defeated.

Municipal government depends on a diversity of voices, and slates do not permit them, she said. Slates also offer institutional advantages that are unavailable to independent candidates, she added. They include higher spending and donation limits.

“It’s unfair playing field,” she said.

Atwell said civic slates are running all over the province right now, when asked about these critiques. “They are citizens-based electoral organizations approved by Elections BC and Saanich,” he said. “They are in fact the official sanctioned means for candidates, who wish to run together to do so.”

Contact between the slate and Beauchamp’s group has been sparse, but has already acquired a quasi-legal nature, when Atwell alerted Facebook that the group had used a photo of the slate on its Facebook page. The group has since removed the photo.


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Mayor Richard Atwell (centre) is one of five members part of United for Saanich running in the upcoming municipal . Other members include Coun. Karen Harper, candidate Cory Montgomery, candidate Kathleen Burton and candidate Ian Jessop. Submitted.

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