Amid the big news, the excitement and the disappointment, the high and lows of election night, Coun. Marie Therese Little’s campaign team left a small gathering at Little’s house not knowing if their efforts would bear fruit.
They had spent the night celebrating the work put into the campaign but did not know if Little had been elected as Metchosin’s new mayor, with the district not reporting its results until early Sunday (Oct. 16) morning.
“Then at about 12:40, I guess, in the morning, my scrutineer called and gave me the results, and I was very pleased and very tired. We had a cup of tea and went to bed.”
Little won with 51.7 per cent of the vote (1,015 votes), narrowly beating Kyara Kahakauwila who got 47.5 per cent (933 votes). Both served during the last term as councillors.
With the first meeting set for Nov. 7, Little wants to focus on transparency and respectful debate in council chambers, developing a rural Metchosin preservation plan and helping agricultural businesses while protecting the environment.
“You see with all the candidates, everybody says I want to keep Metchosin rural, and I’m saying how? Let’s talk about the how.”
Her first priority, which she referred to as accountable governance, will be a tricky road to navigate. Both outgoing Mayor John Ranns and Coun. Andy MacKinnon had said tensions were far higher between council and residents this past term, with the nastiness that crept in part of the reason MacKinnon decided against running again.
“I think it has been a challenging time for many districts and municipalities during COVID. But the mayor sets the tone. The mayor, in my view, sets the tone, and it can be positive or negative. I intend to have a very positive term – forward-thinking, thinking outside the box, strategic planning and looking to our future,” Little said.
Kahakauwila was not only surprised by the result, but by how close the race was.
She had been endorsed by Ranns, something she said may have worked against her with incumbent mayors losing their elections at a much higher rate than usual. Outside of Ranns, Kahakauwila was the longest-serving member on council, first elected in 1999 and serving on council until 2008, when she ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Ranns. She was re-elected as a councillor in 2014.
“It is a bit of a grieving process because this is something that I had worked on for a long time. I had always thought after 17 years on council that the next natural progression for me and my leadership here in my community would be to take on the mayor’s chair, but that’s not the way it is right now.”
For now, Kahakauwila said she’ll likely turn to other community projects, but hasn’t ruled out a return to politics.
Last term’s council had a number of balls to juggle, including negotiations on police funding and looking at Metchosin’s bylaw enforcement.
“That was my goal, regardless of whether or not I was at the table, because I always knew that there was a possibility I wouldn’t be – to set up the next council for success. Because for me… if you have a functioning council, if you have a successful council, then things move forward the way that they should for your community and for your residents.”