Joyce Behnsen has officially announced she’s running for mayor of North Cowichan in the upcoming October municipal elections.
Behnsen, who served as a North Cowichan councillor for one term from 2014-2018, previously ran for mayor in the 2018 elections. She placed third behind incumbent Jon Lefebure and mayor-elect Al Siebring.
Behnsen felt she made a strong showing in that election with 1,874 votes compared to 3,007 for Lefebure and 3,017 for Siebring.
With Siebring’s term running out and his early announcement that he won’t be seeking reelection, the campaign for his replacement is heating up much earlier than would normally be the case. Behnsen is the first candidate to declare her intentions to seek the office Siebring will be vacating in order to retire to Alberta.
Behnsen said she’s decided to run again to get things done for the public.
“North Cowichan mayor, council and staff need to improve on accountability, responsibility and transparency to the citizens who pay for it all,” she indicated.
Behnsen stressed she wants to take the lead on restraining or restricting tax increases. “Fair and realistic taxes should be achievable,” she noted.
“There are too many consultants, studies, reports at great cost and time with few actions or results.”
Behnsen cited forestry, Quamichan Lake algae and relocating Joint Utility Board sewage lagoons as examples.
She said it’s been too easy for North Cowichan council to pass the buck, rather than taking action itself.
“We may be municipal councillors, but we have a voice to the Province and the Feds.”
Behnsen also wants to evaluate or review present hiring practices.
She has kept a close eye on council matters during the last four years and feels she’s well-versed on the issues.
“I have continued to generally follow operations and spending of the Municipality of North Cowichan,” Behnsen pointed out.
The homelessness situation has particularly struck a chord with her.
“Homelessness issues need to be directly dealt with at a local level, with funding from the Province that is responsible to taxpayers,” Behnsen noted. “Treatment facilities are required locally.
“The homelessness issue was literally at the doorstep of my campaign office on Beverly Street/York Road and proved a distraction. I recognized then how serious it was in immediate proximity to our school children and eating establishments.”
Behnsen added her business background in real estate, banking and construction are huge assets she would take to the position of mayor.
“I have a good knowledge of the municipality geographically, having sold ready-mix concrete in the Cowichan region 11 years,” she added. “I’m familiar with Cowichan Valley Regional District, City of Duncan and municipal boundaries. I lived in Lake Cowichan, Duncan, Cowichan Bay, Sahtlam and Sherman Road areas and am well-known and trusted.”
She also reinforced the concerns of Chemainus and Crofton area residents who feel their voices aren’t heard on council will be a priority.
“Chemainus, Crofton, Maple Bay and Cowichan Bay north side, along with the Western Forest Products mill as North Cowichan waterfronts, are valuable economically and environmentally and need to be respected and maintained as such.”
Behnsen acknowledged public meeting times are important to people and need to be changed from the traditional 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoons to early evenings.
“People that own businesses, have day jobs, pick children up from school cannot manage to attend council meetings daytime, with no opportunity to address issues,” she pointed out. “This has been made clear to me for years now.”
As she embarks on the early stages of campaigning, Behnsen wants people to know she doesn’t believe in wasting their time.
“I listen, I understand, I take action,” she said. “In the end, it’s because I care. I am very solution-oriented.”