There’s been a shake-up in Area B of the Comox Valley Regional District.
First-time candidate Arzeena Hamir has defeated incumbent Rod Nichol, amassing 852 votes to Nichol’s 740.
The Area B (Lazo North) race was the closest of the three electoral district races in the CVRD, and comes four years after Nichol won the seat in a landslide victory. In 2014, Nichol unseated then-incumbent Jim Gillis, with 73 per cent of the vote.
“I knew that, but for me, it was also important just to run,” said Hamir. “To have someone acclaimed in Area B was just not acceptable to me. And I also thought there was not as much support for agriculture as there should be, considering much of Area B - at least half of it - is farms. So that was my impetus to run.”
She said while she is well-known in the farming community, she realized in order to have a successful campaign, she would have to introduce herself to much of the non-farming electorate in the constituency.
“I had to spend a considerable amount of time in the more developed areas of Area B… I knew many people in parts of Area B, especially on the Comox side of Area B, didn’t know me. So I made a concerted effort to go out and knock on doors.”
Nichol took the loss in stride.
“Well somewhat disappointed, but the voter has spoken,” he said. “I now have time to get my money’s worth of my golf membership and use the boat in my driveway. It is just part of life and I have seen a lot of it, it will go on and I will enjoy every minute of it. It was a pleasure to once again step forward and try and make our community a better place for all who live here.I wish Arzeena well and thank her for running a respectful campaign.”
In Area A (Baynes Sound, Hornby/Denman Islands), Daniel Arbour (1,383 votes) won by a comfortable margin over Jim Elliott (803).
Arbour takes over for Bruce Jolliffe, who chose not to seek re-election.
Arbour said that fact, and having all-candidates forums in all five communities within the electoral area, helped boost the voter turnout.
“Looking at the results… something that’s really cool about our area, is we have five distinct communities - Royston, Union Bay, Fanny Bay, Hornby and Denman - and historically, somebody would win a couple of communities and maybe lose the other three. I won all five,” said Arbour, who resides on Hornby Island. “I spent a lot of time in the other communities. I was not known at all in Royston, or Union Bay, or Fanny Bay. So I am ecstatic.”
In Area C (Puntledge-Black Creek), incumbent Edwin Grieve was re-elected over challenger Jay Oddleifson.
Grieve received 987 votes, while Oddleifson picked up 601.
At 37 per cent, Area A had the highest voter turnout in the CVRD, and was the only area that surpassed the 30 per cent mark. Area B had 28 per cent voter turnout, while Area C was a dismal 23 per cent.
School trustees for the CVRD will be Sheila McDonnell (Area A), Michelle Waite (Area B) and Ian Hargreaves (Area C).
McDonnell was acclaimed in Area A; Waite (1,050) beat James Derry (338) for the nod in Area B, while Hargreaves, the incumbent for Area C, won after challenger Terence Purden backed out.
Purden’s dropout happened too late for his name to be removed from the ballot, but Hargreaves avoided a by-election by earning 1,141 of the 1,409 votes cast.