Two candidates enter Gibsons mayoral race after White withdraws

Gibsons Coun. Silas White has withdrawn his candidacy for mayor, citing health and personal reasons, and council candidate Bill Beamish has announced he will now run for mayor.

Blake MacLeod has also entered the race, filing nomination papers on Sept 21.

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White launched his campaign on July 10 under the theme “Moving Forward, Together” and was, at the Sept. 14 nomination deadline, the only candidate for mayor.

The Town posted a brief notice on its website Tuesday saying White had withdrawn and that the province granted permission to reopen nominations for mayor with a new deadline of Sept. 24.

“I have decided to withdraw from running for Mayor of Gibsons because as the reality has hit, it’s become clear to me that my current health will not permit me to take on this role,” White said in a statement to media.

White suffered a concussion in a cycling accident on July 1.

“Like many concussions, it did not seem serious at first, but as time went on severe after-effects and other stress emerged,” White’s statement said. “My doctor has told me I should take a complete break from stressful activities to permit healing.

“My first mistake was in not heeding this advice and trying to carry on, which only caused my condition to worsen and has led to a compounding series of problems and poor judgment.

“I now know that for the good of myself, my family and the Town, I must turn this course around by following the medical advice to concentrate on healing – and as privately as possible, not as your mayor.”

White said if time and his recovery allow, he hopes to continue to be involved in issues around homelessness, affordable housing and youth engagement.

“I am deeply sorry to my supporters, to council candidates and to the entire community for the disruption this decision causes to people’s hopes and the election process. But better now than later,” White’s statement concluded.

“Thank you for all your well wishes. Fortunately my prospects for a full recovery are good; my doctor is already guiding me on a path that will simply take focus, time and attention. I am confident another mayoral candidate will come forward who is better prepared than I am right now to lead our community into the next four years. I hope to be in a position again to do so myself one day.”

Beamish, a 72-year-old former chief administrative officer for the Town and experienced local government administrator, said Wednesday that he planned to file nomination papers for mayor.

“I originally decided not to run for mayor because Silas was there and I supported Silas,” Beamish said. “I talked about it with my wife and some other people whose opinions I respect and I’m now prepared to step forward.”

Beamish also said after knocking on nearly 500 doors already during his council campaign, “I’ve got a good sense of some of the concerns of people and feel there’s some support for me as councillor and hopefully that will translate to support for mayor.”

MacLeod, 59, is a newcomer to municipal politics in Gibsons. He's lived in the town full-time for the past two years after 25 years in Vancouver.  MacLeod told Coast Reporter that he was a frequent visitor to the area during those years.  He curently owns a commercial and residential property in Lower Gibsons and runs a renovation business.

He is active in the World Federalist Movement - Canada, and has been a community volunteer with the Sunshine Coast Association for Community Living, the Gibsons Public Market and the Sunshine Coast Roller Girls.

In the release announcing his candidacy MacLeod said he, "will bring his 25 years of community engagement experience to the table when meeting and working with citizen stakeholders, business leaders, municipal staff and councilors on all issues related to the Town of Gibsons" and that he "aims to continue the cooperative relationship with the SCRD and other municipal partners, expand sustainable development and affordable housing options while improving local infrastructure, and looking for innovative ways to make the best use of tax revenues."

Beamish withdrawing his council candidacy to run for mayor leaves eight candidates standing for the four council seats in Gibsons.

Stafford Lumley is the only incumbent running.

Suzanne Senger, who is running for council this time, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2014.

Besides Lumley and Senger, the other candidates are: Annemarie De Andrade, Angie August, Verna Chan, David Croal, Carol Doyle, and Aleria Ladwig.

Voter turnout in Gibsons was among the best in the province in 2014 at 62 per cent.

In Sechelt there has also been a withdrawal. Mike Fawcus told Coast Reporter Tuesday that he was stepping aside from the council race, leaving three candidates for mayor and 13 for council.

The mayoralty candidates are: incumbent Bruce Milne, Coun. Darnelda Siegers, and Al Holt.

The people running for the six seats on council include incumbents Darren Inkster, Alice Lutes, Mike Shanks and Doug Wright and a councillor who served from 2011-14 – Tom Lamb.

The other council candidates are: Jacqueline Gillis, Janice Kuester, Tony Lobb, Matt McLean, Lennea Perpet, Brenda Rowe, Eric Scott, and Alton Toth.

In 2014 there were three mayoral candidates in Sechelt, 15 for council and voter turnout was 53 per cent.

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