Karen Harper wins Saanich council seat in byelection

 

Karen Harper will be taking care of her first task as Saanich’s newest councillor on Sunday morning. 

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“We’re taking down signs,” she said Saturday night, fresh from a close three-way fight for her new position. “They’ve got to be down in four days.”

Harper finished with 2,340 votes, followed by Rebecca Mersereau at 2,238 and Nathalie Chambers at 1,856.

There were 10 candidates in the field, and a total of 9,521 votes cast.

It was a second narrow loss for Mersereau, who was only 30 votes behind Leif Wergeland for the final spot on council in the 2014 municipal election.

Harper, a retired B.C. Pension Corp. vice-president and chief knowledge officer, said she was excited to be joining Saanich council.

“I’m just sort of recovering from the excitement and the shock,” she said. “I’m very honoured.”

Harper will be sworn in on Oct. 16.

Before the election, she said she wanted to help transform Saanich into a “cost-effective, efficient, customer-responsive organization.”

She said she put her name forward after attending council meetings and identifying issues that were important to her, including the budget and land-use planning.

A number of other candidates shared her views, she said Saturday.

“From that perspective, I think it augurs well in the next election a year from now,” Harper said. “We could only elect one of us this time.”

She said she will “absolutely” be running in the October 2018 municipal election.

The vote became necessary after the March death of veteran councillor Vic Derman at the age of 72.

The former teacher was known for his environmental advocacy and was a founding director of The Land Conservancy of B.C.

To honour his memory, 3.2-hectare Christmas Hill Park had its name changed to Vic Derman Park in July.

Derman was on the mind of many voters Saturday.

“I was a great admirer of Vic Derman’s,” Virginia Miller said after she and her husband cast their votes.

“So I tried to look for somebody who could, perhaps, follow in his footsteps or have his kind of attitudes because they certainly represent ours — interested in the community, the environment, a reasonable person.”

She said that voting is a responsibility.

“You can’t complain about what your government does if you don’t go out and vote.”

Showing a commitment to voting also sets an example for her grandchildren, Miller said.

Corinne Susut said she and her husband also believe in the value of voting.

“We think it’s very important to be involved in our community and have our voice heard a little bit, and support the candidate we’re interested in.”

The percentage of voters who turned out was not immediately known.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

Preliminary results

Karen Harper — 2,340

Rebecca Jane Mersereau — 2,238

Nathalie Chambers — 1,856

Michael Geoghegan — 863

Ned Taylor — 597

Rob Wickson — 577

Shawn Selkirk Newby 465

Marsha Henderson — 334

Keith Andrew Davidoff 163

Art Pollard — 83

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