Without contest, Prince Rupert’s mayor will serve a second term by acclamation.
Although the voting date for the general local elections is Oct. 20, Lee Brain was the only candidate for the mayor position. Terrace’s mayor Carol Leclerc is also entering her second term by acclamation after the Kool-Aid Man, comedian Danny Nunes, withdrew from the mayoral race.
Mayor by acclamation is not uncommon for the 2018 election. Across cities, districts, villages and towns there are 36 candidates who will automatically become mayor, according to CivicInfo BC, a non-profit that collects its data from local Chief Election Officers.
Out of the 162 B.C. municipalities, 22 per cent will have a candidate named as mayor without any challengers. On that list, 26 candidates are incumbents.
“Running for elected office is expensive and potentially humiliating. Rational candidates avoid contests against incumbents because these contests are much harder to win,” Michael Brydon said, who is both a professor at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, and on the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. After three terms he’s not running for re-election, and when the news broke he said six new candidates submitted for his seat.
Another political expert, Jason Morris, a political science lecturer at the University of Northern B.C., said he expected the number of mayors by acclamation to be higher due to changes in the term length to four years, from three years previously, and new restrictions on party financing. But “that hasn’t seemed to be the case,” he said.
“The large number of mayors that will be acclaimed in the coming civic elections on October 20 would suggest a lack of competition in many communities and as well the possibility, on the campaign trail, for less diverse views to be represented that can be later worked into social policy,” Morris said.
On Facebook, Brain addressed “Rupertites” about being named their mayor.
“Although I’ve been acclaimed, I want folks to know that this only further motivates me to kick it up a notch to spark major change and transformation in Prince Rupert.”
Formally, Brain will be acclaimed the end of Friday, Sept. 21, after the challenge and withdrawal period.
“You’ll be hearing more from me during this campaign period, but for now, I just want to thank everyone for their support, guidance and for sharing their concerns with me over these past four years. Listening is how I plan, design and implement a vision/path/way forward for our community,” Brain said in his post.
In the 2014 elections, Prince Rupert had four mayoral candidates and a 45.5 per cent voter turnout. Terrace had two mayoral candidates and a 31.6 per cent voter turn out. But with no race for the top spot, there is concern that if the mayor’s position is sorted before the elections voter turnout could be even lower.