Port Alberni city hall. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)

ELECTION 2022: Two mayoral, 21 council candidates vying for seats in Port Alberni

Read brief profiles and platforms of all city council and mayoral candidates

The Alberni Valley News offered all candidates running for mayoral and councillor seats in the Oct. 15, 2022 civic election a chance to share a brief profile on who they are and what they stand for.

All-candidates meetings for the City of Port Alberni, hosted by the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce, are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 5 and Thursday, Oct. 6 from 7–9 p.m. at RimRock Casino, in their conference room. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. both nights.

On Wednesday, the first 12 council candidates (to be introduced alphabetically) will have time to introduce themselves and their platforms. On Thursday, the remaining nine council candidates and both mayoral candidates will be featured. If there is time left over, MC Bill Collette will take random questions written in advance by audience members.

Video recordings of the all-candidates presentations will be posted on the chamber website at albernichamber.ca.

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

(in alphabetical order)

SHARIE MINIONS

Through pandemic, tragic accidents, forest sector changes and many good times, it’s been a privilege to lead this community as mayor.

From my recent four-year term, I’m proud of: advancing relationships with Indigenous leaders; Somass waterfront opening; 300-plus childcare spaces; 200-plus affordable housing units; 100-plus seniors housing units; train station restoration; $10 million-plus in grants received; appointment to Forestry Resiliency Council of BC; new sewage treatment facility; pool preparing for referendum; thriving small business sector; increased permits to $80 million from $16 million per year.

My priorities will remain consistent: good jobs, quality of life, working together.

Council’s success was best described by a recent media headline, “Port Alberni — poised for transformational change.”

TOM VERBRUGGE

I was born in Port Alberni and have lived here all my life. I grew up on my parents’ potato farm south of town on Ship Creek Road. In 1969 I began working in the logging industry and still work logging on occasion. I was involved in two motorcycle dealerships in the 1970s. The logging industry had its downturns so in one slow period I started a B&B with my wife, and a Christmas tree farm on another occasion. I still run the tree farm today.

If elected I will work towards cancelling all portions of non-waterfront quay to quay walkway that can be cancelled without penalty; do what I can to return Thunder in the Valley to the Alberni Valley; focus on a new swimming pool and recreation centre; and support the building of a four-lane boat launch with ample boat trailer parking.

COUNCIL CANDIDATES

(in alphabetical order)

MICHELLE BISARO

Port Alberni has been my home since 1985. I have genuine interest in this community. After graduating from ADSS, I attended the University of Victoria and pursued a career in resource management. I returned to the Island and Port Alberni to be closer to my family. Since 2011, I have held various positions at city hall. My primary motivation to sit on council is to be a voice for residents. I’m running on a platform of community inclusion, fiscal responsibility, and strategic future planning. You can find out more about me and my platform at www.BisaroForCouncil.ca.

JOSHUA DAHLING

If given the opportunity to serve the residents of Port Alberni, I am fully prepared to represent the people and needs of our beautiful city, its traditions and its potential for healthy growth.

I bring 25 years of professional and volunteer service to people, families and communities. These experiences have allowed me to develop the skills required to listen, advocate and work together to find viable solutions to some of the more challenging issues Port Alberni faces, while also supporting the past excellent work in the social, environmental and economic sectors.

DUSTIN DAME

For 36 years I have been proud to call Port Alberni my hometown. As a young adult I devoted my time to volunteering. I’m now raising my family and operating my business here.

My wife and I opened Cloud City Apparel Co. in 2011 uptown (South Port) during the height of the area’s decline. Our vision was always to be a part of what we believed the area could become: a vibrant, revitalized shopping district with a diverse range of businesses. Thanks to tremendous support from the community our business has not only survived but thrived. Now I’d like to return the favour by representing the voices of residents and contributing my vision, experience as a business owner, and proactive, positive outlook, as a member of our city council.

Port Alberni clearly has a lot of work to do, but I believe we are poised to finally shake off the image and stagnancy issues that have plagued us for years. We must keep pushing forward as a community.

TERRY DEAKIN

“Building Community Together” is where I stand. Issues, concerns, solutions, and successes do not stand alone; our complex situations require working together to achieve real solutions. As a local businesswoman, I have learned to listen, discover, utilize strengths, strategize, partner, problem solve, and take calculated risks.

I value inclusion, diversity, and commitment. I will use my experience and my education, Human Services Diploma, Bachelor of Business, and Master of Arts in Community Development, to hear your concerns, act with integrity, and work with others to be responsible and accountable to all the citizens of Port Alberni.

JIM DEL RIO

(No profile or platform was submitted by deadline for this candidate for our print edition.)

I’ve lived here since 2004, when I moved from Alberta to manage the Maples Resort at Sproat Lake. I ran a backhoe in the bush and owned my own landscaping company for 12 years. I am retired now but still work part time at Panago.

I have given volunteer hours to seniors through my landscaping business, and have given my time to addictions counselling through Kackaamin Treatment Centre in Beaver Creek.

The city has been really good to me business wise and it’s time for me to give back. The main reason I’m running is for transparency to the public. No back door deals before the public hears about it.

I have a masters in common sense, which I think is sometimes lacking.

SEVA DHALIWAL

I love Port Alberni and am passionate about helping people.

Over the years, I have worked hard fighting for social justice and believe changes are necessary.

I am willing to give 100 percent of myself, my heart, and my time to this council to fight hard for this city.

We need to make sure our tax dollars are spent wisely on things that we need. In these tough economic times, many taxpayers are having a hard time putting food on their table. We need to make sure that taxation does not take away from the taxpayers’ basic needs. I am a very determined woman.

JOHN DOUGLAS

My name is John Douglas. I come from a healthcare career as a paramedic, starting in the streets of downtown Vancouver and subsequently in Port Alberni from 2004 until retiring in 2012. Over the past years I have been involved in our community and region, on city council both as a councillor and mayor; also working with some of our First Nations in tourism management and economic development. I’ve spent the last six years in social planning, mental health and addictions, food distribution and housing solutions here in Port Alberni.

Working on several initiatives involving council—the latest being transforming the brownfield site at 10th and Redford to a greenspace—and seeing the positive direction in which our city is moving, has inspired me to put my name forward to be part of that future and your voice at city hall. I am extremely excited about the possibilities that we have in front of us.

DEBBIE HAGGARD

The last four years on council have been the most challenging job I have ever had, but also the most rewarding. We have faced crisis after crisis but we are finally starting to realize that potential that we knew we had. Port Alberni is experiencing growth and record development. We are the “cool place to be!”

My priorities for the next four years include continuing to advocate for the needs of our most vulnerable citizens, increased services for youth, strategic waterfront development, supporting our forest industry, growing tourism, championing small business and recreational amenities for our community.

GRAHAM HUGHES

My passion is advocacy work—fighting the systems that don’t work for us, and challenging the people who oppress those they’re paid to serve.

I believe our elected officials have neglected their responsibilities to the public, and no city councillor seems interested in confronting corruption in our community. I’m running in this election to become that voice.

I believe of all candidates in this election I have the strongest record of confronting corruption and advocating for fairness, for ethical systemic change, and for people like you and I.

My goal is create a community where we all feel safe, respected, heard, and valued.

RICHARD HUNEAULT

I moved to Port Alberni three years ago from Calgary, Alberta. I have always been passionate about politics and have volunteered for every election since I was in high school, for many different parties/candidates. I do not align myself with any one party. I believe that mayors and councillors should serve the people, not political parties or agendas. People often characterized me as genuine, empathetic, open-minded, and a good listener.

I have a genuine desire to serve my community and I invite you to email or come talk to me so we can better engage our political landscape and move towards meaningful improvements/policies.

WENDY LEE KERR

I have lived here all my life and I’ve always been proud to say I’m from Port Alberni. After I graduated from high school I went to work as a cook at West Coast General Hospital; 42 years and 35 different positions (from kitchen to medical surgical ward) later, I retired. I went back to school twice: once when I was 54 and again when I turned 60. I was a much better student as an adult and proud to be on the honour roll and the class valedictorian.

I ran for city council 2011, and was successful in my attempt to win a seat. It was an interesting time for me and I thoroughly enjoyed my time on council. My life has changed a lot since then: I’m retired so I have a lot more time; my wonderful son moved to Courtenay. As a result I now feel I have the time and energy to be a successful city councillor. I want to be proud of this town again.

SUKHDEV KRISHAN

Sukhdev spearheaded a team of 45 life coaches from 12 countries who volunteered during the coronavirus pandemic. He sits as a member with various elite networking groups making valuable introductions between celebrities and influencers as well as receiving special invites to business speakeasy events, and other unique masterminds with some of the worlds brightest and creative minds, top keynote speakers, and international best-selling authors.

Sukhdev helped earn an NGO in India INR$10 million or approximately USD$125,000 so far in 2022.

Understanding what it means to work with high performing teams, Sukhdev is ready to work for the people.

SANDY MCRUER

I am running for city council because for me, it is the next step. Over the 35 years I have lived here, I have been a professional forester, a nature tour guide, and a newspaper columnist. I have served on the city’s Planning Advisory Commission, and the board of Tourism Alberni Valley. I started the Alberni Valley Politics Facebook page and helped start the Friends of the Burde Street Beaver Ponds page too, now with 930 and 680 members respectively. For more about who I am, and my perspectives see my blog, LivingInTheAlberniValley.ca.

CHARLES MEALEY

My name is Charles Walter Mealey, and I am a third-generation Port Albernian. I was a city councillor for the City of Port Alberni for three terms between 1999 and 2008 before retiring. I was (and still am) the youngest person ever elected as a city councillor in the City of Port Alberni.

I don’t make promises. Never have. I do bring honesty and integrity to the table, as well as the rare combination of (relative) youth and experience. I would be honoured if the citizens gave me another chance to represent this wonderful community.

TODD PATOLA

Council should focus on the city’s core services. First, maintaining and improving infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner. Next is the development of public facilities. Parks, trails, swimming pools, arts venues, are valuable community spaces, which should be developed in a fiscally, socially and environmentally responsible manner. In achieving these goals I will be responsible, objective, accountable and respectful.

I came to Port Alberni in 1996 and spent my entire law career as a Crown Counsel in the Port Alberni courts.

I am the president on the Canadian Mental Health Association and have volunteered with Community Futures of Alberni-Clayoquot, Habitat for Humanity, Young Life and the Port Alberni Community Foundation.

CHAR PATTERSON

In April 2010, Char Patterson committed wholeheartedly to our community with her business investment and move to Port Alberni. She enthusiastically facilitates the arts, tourism and a wide variety of gatherings. Char has spearheaded many community projects which both demonstrate respect to our past while gently leading us to a vibrant future.

How she shows herself is who she is, honest and transparent. An advocate for all, committed to represent the community as a whole. Resilient and reliable with 30-plus years in computer system technologies and accounting. Organized and able to articulate with integrity and individuality. Char is a steadfast leader.

RON PAULSON

I am seeking election for a third term as a city councillor. I believe strongly in the Alberni Valley and what we have to offer our residents, investors and visitors.

Port Alberni has been my home since 1974. My wife, Beth and I have been married for 44 years and we recently became first-time grandparents.

I will bring integrity, leadership, honesty and community action to the job.

I believe in a vibrant, active business community. A community active in attracting business and sustainable development will affordably ensure our current services into the future.

PETE RUESCHMANN

I am aiming to fully represent the people in Port Alberni, and before I raise my hand to support anything council votes for I will talk to people and get their opinion of what they want. I will never support any corporation which is foreign and likes to do what it wants. We need to create and support local business so people have jobs and not high rents and low or no income. My point is people first and no corporate giants.

I have some idea how to generate small business. I was a small business owner myself. I have worked as a machinist in Germany, worked in the fish farm industry and in beverage distribution for 22 years. I have been in Port Alberni since 1976 and will stay here.

CINDY SOLDA

This is my seventh election run. I have served as City of Port Alberni councillor from September 2001-2014 and 2018 to present. I have the experience, leadership and integrity that will keep Port Alberni moving forward in this exciting transition we are seeing in our community.

Throughout my years as a city councillor I have been assigned to many local and regional initiatives. I have had responsibilities with planning, health, protective services, seniors, homelessness, have been chair of the Alberni- Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD), vice-chair of the Regional Hospital District and interim chair of the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities (AVICC). I was appointed by the Union of BC Municipalities to positions of responsibility on a number of committees over the years, including emergency planning, audit committee and others.

DAN WASHINGTON

If I was to be honoured by this community again, this would be my fifth term as councillor. I would continue to be the voice of reason and experience. I have served in this community through volunteerism for decades and being on council is a continuation of that service. I may be older, but I believe that I know where the future of this community lies.

I may not always say much, however, I find repetition unnecessary when I am in agreement with my fellow councillors. My reason for seeking re-election is that ‘I am not done yet.’ Out of all of the councils that I have served on, this council has been the most cohesive and progressive. We have a lot of important projects under way and I want to see as many completed as possible.

We should have no specific personal agendas, as municipal politics should be about ‘we’ and not ‘I’.

CAROL-ANNE ZANETTE

My name is Carol-Anne Zanette and I am running for city council. I was born and raised in Port Alberni and my husband and I have raised our adult children here and we are now raising two little ones. I own and operate Steampunk Café as well as work full time for the Salvation Army. I have owned and operated businesses in the valley for 14 years.

I have been an active member of many boards such as the chamber of commerce and the uptown merchants’ society. I am devoted to making a community our kids will be proud to call home. I am excited to see all the new housing projects happening at this time but I am dedicated to making sure our future generation won’t be in the predicament we are in now.

I am also dedicated to having clean safe parks and green spaces for families and making the process of opening a business in the city run smoothly.

•••

Advanced voting in the Alberni Valley takes place Wednesday, Oct. 5 and Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The general election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information on voting in the City of Port Alberni, go online to portalberni.ca/municipal-elections.

Election 2022Port Alberni

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