Gibsons councillor Charlene SanJenko won’t be running this fall, but she will be involved behind the scenes.
SanJenko said she first entered local politics in 2011 to support Wayne Rowe in his effort to become mayor and because she felt “nothing was happening in Gibsons.”
According to SanJenko, the council that was elected in 2014 went on to set a different tone. “For some reason having a team approach and regarding your fellow councillors as a team seemed to be frowned upon. That just wasn’t done in politics. Somehow that got broad-brushed as a slate,” she said. “We’ve had a mutually beneficial respect for each other – knowing that we think very, very differently.”
SanJenko said she’s proud of what Gibsons council has done in establishing “operational excellence” and getting the Town on track to financial sustainability through contributions to an asset renewal fund and initiatives like water metering, which Gibsons adopted well ahead of the rest of the Sunshine Coast.
She also said the Town has “built a brand” during her time on council as a “forward-thinking, innovative community,” and she sees that branding as something that’s as important for a municipal government as it is for a major corporation.
“It boils down to attracting talent,” she said. “A young family could choose from any community in rural B.C. if they were looking for certain things … so what is it about Gibsons that’s going to attract that ‘talent,’ that amazing young family, to come and join our community?”
SanJenko said the projects she’s working on as founder of PowHERhouse Media have taken on a national scope that she’s looking forward to pursuing. She also said as she travels the country she meets a lot of women who are enthusiastic about branching out in their professional fields, but there’s still some reluctance to get into politics.
SanJenko told Coast Reporter she wants to keep supporting women in politics, and that’s part of the reason for her decision to act as campaign manager for a woman who plans to run for a seat on Gibsons council. A formal announcement will come soon.
“We can’t talk about getting more women into politics if we’re not honestly very serious about replacing ourselves if we decide to leave, and succession planning has been very important to me,” she said. “I will do everything I can to throw my support, my expertise, my connections and my passion behind her to make sure she replaces me at that table.”
SanJenko also said she’ll be actively supporting Coun. Silas White’s bid for mayor.