The municipal election season just kicked off Friday afternoon, but already a pair of North Island communities have their mayors in place.
Incumbents Jan Allen, of the Village of Port Alice, and Michael Berry, of the Village of Alert Bay, were acclaimed for four-year terms when they were the only candidates to declare in their respective communities.
Elsewhere, both Port Hardy and Port McNeill will see new mayors installed following the Nov. 15 election, though familiar faces are in the hunt.
All-candidates meetings have been scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 29, in Port McNeill and in Port Hardy.
On North Vancouver Island, the election will fill spots on councils in Alert Bay, Port Alice, Port Hardy and Port McNeill, as well as the Regional District of Mount Waddington and the School District 85 board of trustees.
As with Allen and Berry, several other candidates were acclaimed for positions when the nomination period closed Friday at 4 p.m. with no challengers.
On the RDMW board, Heidi Soltau of Sointula will return as Area A director, Phil Wainwright of Winter Harbour returns as Area B Director and Dave Rushton of Woss is back as Area D Director. Only Area C is being contested, with incumbent Andrew Hory of Coal Harbour facing Pat Horgan of Nimpkish Heights.
Other spots on the RDMW board will be filled by either mayors or appointees from each of the other communities’ councils.
Three members of the SD85 board of trustees have already been determined by acclimation. Leightan Wishart and Jeff Field of Port Hardy and Danita Schmidt of Coal Harbour, all incumbents, were the only three nominees in the newly created Area 1 (north zone), under electoral restructuring approved by the Ministry of Education last year.
Two more spots will be filled by voters in Port McNeill, where incumbent Werner Manke is joined on the ballot by David Jack, Rod Sherrell and former trustee Lyn Skrlac.
The final two spots will be filled from the newly created Area 2. Lawrie Garrett of Sointula, Eric Hunter of Alert Bay and Carol Prescott of Port Alice, all incumbents under the previous electoral structure, are back on the ballot along with C.W. Petersen, which means at least one incumbent will be left off the board next month.
The District of Port Hardy will have the busiest ballot, with 13 nominees vying for six available council spots. Former Mayor Hank Bood, who served until 2008, is attempting a return to the office and will be opposed by current councillor Janet Dorward.
The council candidates include incumbents Jessie Hemphill, Rick Marcotte and John Tidbury, along with challengers Pat Corbett-Labatt, Dennis Dugas, Debbie Perkovich, Shelley Quist, Eric Ralph, Graham Richards, Fred Robertson, Rodney Romas, Shelley Siemens and Leightan Wishart, who is bidding for a council job in addition to his duties as school district trustee.
The Town of Port McNeill will see a complete makeover of its council, though one current member will return in a new post.
Current councillors Shirley Ackland and Gaby Wickstrom are squaring off for the mayor’s job, which became open when Gerry Furney announced he will not stand for re-election after 39 years as mayor.
Fellow councillors Grant Anderson and Chris Sharpe have both declined to return, which means all four council spots are available for a slate of seven contenders. Among them are former councillors Shelley Downey and Aaron Frost, who both served until 2011, along with Jason Clark, Jay Dixon, Graham MacDonald, David Mitchell and Alannah Nicols.
In Alert Bay, incumbent councillors Kane Gordon, Kim Mercer and Wendy White are bidding for a return to office. They will be challenged by Dennis Buchanan, David Faren, Lisanne Granger and Duncan Williams for the four available spots.
In Port Alice, two incumbents — Marc Brackett and David Stewart — are back in the running for one of four available council spots, and at least one is assured of returning. Three newcomers have also declared, including Marnie Chase, Christine Martin and Doug Worthington.
See continuing local election coverage and look for candidate profiles in the Gazette in the coming weeks and online at www.northislandgazette.com.