More than 400 members of Together Victoria voted Sunday to nominate Stefanie Hardman to run as a candidate for city council in a byelection expected in April.
“By voting for me, you have voted to do politics differently, together,” said Hardman, who came to the podium to cheers of her name after the results were announced.
Hardman works as a community-based researcher and planner, which she said means she has spent a lot of time listening to people about their concerns.
“I’ve worked with renters. I’ve worked with people experiencing homelessness. I’ve worked with some of the lowest paid and most poorly protected workers in Victoria — retail, food service and hospitality workers — and I’ve heard their concerns and their ideas for what could improve their lives,” Hardman said.
The nomination meeting was open only to registered members of the group, which has grown to more than 800 people. Hardman was one of eight names on the ballot.
Councillors Sarah Potts and Sharmarke Dubow, the slate’s current city councillors, did not attend the nomination meeting, but Laurel Collins, whose successful NDP campaign to represent Victoria federally triggered the byelection, was there to cast a ballot.
Collins said it was exciting to see such a large turnout from the group, which had about 200 members when she ran for city council in 2018.
“The organization has grown exponentially. It’s amazing,” Collins said.
Co-chair Ashley McKay said the growth of the group shows that Together Victoria’s values of affordability and inclusivity resonate with residents. “It really shows the community that these values are important.”
City council endorsed a scaled-down approach to the byelection last month, cutting the number of election-day voting stations and limiting communications to residents informing them of the byelection, in order to save money and staff time.
City staff have estimated the byelection will cost between $140,000 to $170,000, as opposed to $320,000 to $360,000 for a standard election process.
A date for the byelection has not been set.
Jeremy Caradonna, a policy analyst in the provincial government’s Climate Action Secretariat, is running for the council seat.
Kari Sloane, who works for B.C. Emergency Health Services, has also indicated her intention to run.