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Early Looks: Maureen Nicholson hoping to leap from councillor to mayor in Bowen race

Two-term councillor Maureen Nicholson points to her experience as a major asset in the upcoming election
Maureen Nicholson

Maureen Nicholson wasted no time stating her intentions to run for mayor once the nomination period opened on August 30. “Here’s to a good campaign period for all candidates and our community,” wrote Nicholson on social media shortly after 9 am that Tuesday.

Nicholson, who is currently serving her second term as municipal councillor, says she arrived at the decision after a lot of reflection. “I was concerned about someone inexperienced coming into the role at this time. I also felt given what needs to be done in the coming term that I was the right person for the job,” she says.

Nicholson says her campaign will focus on three major areas, the first being addressing Bowen’s many in-progress capital projects. “We need to complete the capital projects that we have underway. And we need to do that in a fiscally responsible and transparent way,” she says.

“Finish what we’ve started, fulfill the promise that was put forward over a couple of councils for those capital projects. Some of them are coming to a close (fire hall)… and the other projects need to get to a happy closure,” adds Nicholson.

The councillor says another priority is to update Bowen’s Official Community Plan, which was last constructed more than a decade ago. “There’s been a lot of turnover of people in the community in that time, so I think we need to talk with each other about what we want the island to be and come up with a plan that reflects who the island is now, and where we want to go,” says Nicholson.

In addition, Nicholson wants to pursue alternative sources of revenue to property taxes to take financial pressure off owners. She mentions the Municipal and Regional District Tax, Tourism Tax, and inclusion within the Islands Coastal Economic Trust as potential new sources.

Nicholson is also putting her name forward for one of the two trustee positions with Islands Trust. She’ll have to be successful in her bid for mayor to have a shot at the role, as trustees must also be elected to a municipal position.

“I think this coming term is going to be really interesting in terms of organizational relationships with the Islands Trust and with Metro Vancouver,” she says, pointing to several reviews the organization has requested including a look at the Islands Trust Act, policy statement, and potential new governance committee.

“I think I would be both interested and able to contribute to that discussion. The other piece is the park at Cape Roger Curtis is going to require a lot of attention and knowledge of how the park system works, which I think I have after serving on the Parks Committee for eight years,” adds Nicholson on what will surely be one of Bowen’s most talked about issues in the upcoming year.

“Coming out right at the beginning of the nomination period, I think that there’s a degree of clarity and leadership required of a mayor,” says Nicholson on her decision to declare early. But she acknowledges, “I think I may have to be more proactive in engaging with specific groups,” in reference to her council campaign strategy of putting the focus on showing up to events she was invited to.

Nicholson concludes that a mayor’s ultimate responsibility is to connect with council and the community. “Sometimes people think the mayor has a lot more say than councillors. But the mayor has one vote, like all the other councillors.”

“You have to pay a lot more attention to the dynamics of how a council is working, and the dynamics of how a community is working. So notions of well-being and collaboration and clarity, and most importantly communication, are super important in the mayoral role,” she says.

Nicholson will be competing against Andrew Leonard and John Turner in the October 15 election.

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