Jackson still mum on re-election

DELTA – With the next municipal election five months away, one of two scenarios is likely to unfold, both of which hinge on the pending decision by Lois Jackson.

Should Jackson seek a sixth term in the mayor’s chair, we could once again see a host of familiar faces on Delta council, but if the veteran civic politician decides to call it a career after more than four decades, there’s a chance for sweeping change.

So far, the only certainty is that a newcomer will claim the seat that will finally be vacated by Scott Hamilton, who became the Liberal MLA for Delta North in last year’s provincial election but has remained on council in a parttime capacity.

As for the other six members, only two, Bruce McDonald and Ian Paton, have confirmed they will run again this fall, when council terms become four years in length. Jeannie Kanakos, Robert Campbell, Sylvia Bishop and Jackson all say it’s too early to declare their intentions.

Since Jackson became mayor in 1999, the last time there was sweeping change at the council table, the turnover has been relatively low. While she has been at the helm, Vicki Huntington, Guy Gentner and Hamilton have moved on to provincial politics, while Kanakos left for a term to take a run at the provincial level.

McDonald, Krista Engelland and Heather King have all vacated their council seats over the years to run for the mayor’s job.

King, who lost to Jackson three years ago and is now completing her university studies, will only say said she’s considering running for council again.

Only two sitting councillors during Jackson’s lengthy tenure – Anne Peterson and Ann Claggett – have lost their seats in an election, showing how incumbents have the upper hand and how tough it is for newcomers to get elected.

It could be more of the same this November if Jackson runs again, but if she decides to retire it could be a whole new ball game.

“It’s a long time until November. I’ve got so much that I’m doing right now, there’s a lot of things in the fire, and I’d like to get some of this stuff done. Then I’ll put my mind to that,” she recently told the Optimist.

If Jackson decides to retire, the mayoralty race becomes wide open, likely attracting at least one council incumbent and possibly others.

Would King decide to run for the job again? Would someone on council, like Paton perhaps, take a crack at it? Should one or more sitting councillors seek the mayor’s spot, it would leave other seats vacant.

The uncertainty with Jackson’s future creates other speculation, including whether Campbell, first elected in 1999 and a part of her slate ever since, would also retire if the mayor hung up her gavel. That would result in another seat being available.

After 15 years of relatively little change, a major overhaul could be on the horizon, but it all depends on Jackson’s decision. Should she decide to run again, she stands a good chance of being re-elected given there’s no natural challenger and her history of strong voter support, particularly in North Delta.

That doesn’t completely close the door on more than one outsider cracking the council lineup, though, if all the incumbents, other than Hamilton, run gain.

As far as some of the potential newcomers, former school board chair Kelly Guichon could be an interesting “big name” in the mix. Guichon said she has nothing to announce one way or the other at this time.

The election is set for Nov. 15. sgyarmati@delta-optimist.com