It took two ballots and a first-ever question period for the Cowichan Valley Regional District directors to elect Jon Lefebure to the position of board chair Wednesday evening.
The board and the region are "facing big challenges and big opportunities," Lefebure said. "We have truly exciting potential on this new board."
Lefebure, also the mayor of the Municipality of North Cowichan, was challenged by Area H Director Mary Marcotte and Area D Director Lori Iannidinardo. Area F Director Ian Morrison declined his nomination in favour of Marcotte.
Lefebure, in his address to the directors prior to the vote, said he is excited about the next four years with the board, which has many new faces following the elections on Nov. 15.
He comes into the job with no fixed agenda, he said, but is strictly against backroom deals, politicking and cliques on the board that pit electoral areas against municipal directors, something that has caused problems in the past.
Lefebure said he is invested in the success of the board, which will require acting as a team.
"I take that very seriously," he said, before a packed gallery.
He went on to identify what he believes will be some of the most important things facing the board in the next four years.
"I’m very optimistic that this board will bring a commitment to regional watershed governance, will find ways to protect our region from contaminated soil, will bring new thinking to budgetary concerns and will, dare I say it, consider a regional growth strategy," he said. "We have some really hard work to do on transit."
Continuing to build relationships with First Nations will also be key, he said.
Before voting began on the first ballot, new Cobble Hill Director Matteus Clement threw the group a curve ball by suggesting directors be allowed to ask questions of the candidates, particularly the new directors who are not as familiar with those who were nominated.
After discussion where some directors expressed reluctance to proceed with a question period without a procedure in place to govern it, the idea was approved and the four new electoral area directors each asked the candidates one question.
They ranged in subject from ideas to improve economic prospects in the area, to addressing the issues brought forward by climate change and how they would run the board.
The first ballot saw none of the three win a majority, so lowest vote getter Mary Marcotte withdrew and a second ballot was taken, with Lefebure coming out the winner.
Lori Iannidinardo was acclaimed as board vice chair.
After Lefebure took his seat he thanked outgoing chair Rob Hutchins for his service, then went on to praise the process they’d just undertaken. "There was new thinking," he said of the question period and how smoothly it ran. "This is indicative of what this board can do.