Third candidate joins race for vacant seat on Saanich council

A third person has announced her candidacy for the Saanich council seat made vacant by the death of longtime councillor Vic Derman on March 17.

Karen Harper, a Saanich resident since 2000, said she is eager to start knocking on doors to hear residents’ concerns.

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Harper, formerly chief knowledge officer of the B.C. Pension Corp., said she is focused on controlling spending and the setting of priorities.

She is treasurer of the Camosun Community Association and a director of the groups Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria and Amalgamation Yes.

“Working with an exceptional executive team at the B.C. Pension Corp., I dedicated the last 10 years of my working life to creating and managing an effective, efficient, and accountable service-oriented organization,” Harper said in a statement.

Saanich has approved a budget increase of 3.5 per cent at a time when many taxpayers are not getting annual wage increases of that magnitude, she said.

Harper said she attends most council meetings already. “I’ve concluded that council needs to start pulling itself up to a strategic level. Right now, they’re very much mired in details.”

Derman was known for environmentalism, something shared by the other two contenders: Rebecca Mersereau, a water-resource management consultant who chairs the Capital Regional District Water Advisory Committee, and has the support of Derman’s widow in carrying on his legacy, and environmental farmer Nathalie Chambers. The date for the September byelection will be formalized after council appoints a chief election officer, expected shortly, chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson said.

Derman died in his sleep at age 72, and had served on council since 2002.

Whoever wins the byelection will have a seat until the next municipal election in October 2018.

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