Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie ‘expects’ to run again

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said Monday he “expects” to run for re-election this fall. -
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said Monday he “expects” to run for re-election this fall.
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Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said Monday he “expects” to run for re-election this fall, despite disagreeing with his council colleagues on how the election should be run.

Last week Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts announced she won’t be seeking another term in municipal elections this fall, saying she wouldn’t exceed her self-imposed time limit of three terms.

But Brodie is preparing to challenge for a sixth consecutive term as mayor on Nov. 15, telling The Richmond Review he’ll make a formal announcement in June.

This year’s election will have a different look than 2011, after council voted 6-3 to return to the approach used in 2008. That means abandoning the “vote-anywhere” method, which allowed voters to cast ballots at any one of the city’s polling stations, along with scrapping unusual polling places such as shopping malls.

Dubbed the “back-to-basics” model, the city will again be divided into 34 voting divisions. Apart from advance polls, electors may only vote at a single place based on residence.

The model has a long history in Richmond and is the least costly to mount—$529,500, or $52,500 less than a vote-anywhere system—but it also restricts voters.

Coun. Harold Steves, one of six councillors to vote for the system, said limiting voting to designated polling stations helps build neighbourhoods.

“I think it’s important to live and work and vote in your own community, and I don’t think we need to be going across Richmond and changing the rules to do it,” he said. “The hours are long enough they can get there and vote.”

Coun. Linda McPhail said last year’s election created voter confusion and frustration, due to long waits at popular polling stations and the fact some historical voting places weren’t used.

Coun. Bill McNulty concurred: “The results didn’t justify the costs.”

Richmond’s voter turnout reached a low of 22.1 per cent in 2008, when just 27,709 residents voted. In 2011, 31,126 cast ballots, resulting in a voter turnout of 23.7 per cent.

McNulty said turnout has more to do with issues than how voters cast ballots.

“Lifestyles are changing, but I think if people are concerned about their community they will come out and respond in a positive manner.”

The mayor, along with Couns. Chak Au and Linda Barnes, couldn’t convince their colleagues to keep the vote-anywhere model. Brodie acknowledged there was some confusion in 2011, but said it’s hard to get every detail right the first time.

“What we’re trying to do is move forward, not move back. Secondly, I don’t see the act of voting as something like a neighbourhood barbecue,” he said. “If we want a strong city we’ve got to have the maximum voter turnout that we can.”

Au said the vote-anywhere model was a success, citing the modest increase in voter turnout.

“We tried last time and even though we didn’t have a very significant increase in the turnout, it did change the trend,” he said.

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