One of White Rock’s two fledgling councillors says he has “no illusions” that the position he won Saturday night simply means he has to be at city hall every other Monday.
“It is a lot of work” to be on council, David Chesney acknowledged Wednesday.
“I know I’m up for it.”
Chesney and Megan Knight will make their first official appearance as city representatives on Dec. 1, at the inaugural meeting of the new council. They’ll join mayor-elect Wayne Baldwin, returning councillors Helen Fathers, Grant Meyer and Bill Lawrence and former councillor Lynne Sinclair.
Reached by email Tuesday, Knight said she was out of town and unavailable for interview.
For Chesney, 63, the moment is a long-awaited one. He was first spurred to pay more attention to city business 10 years ago, by the unexpected announcement that the city’s iconic Whaling Wall would be torn down to make way for what is now Miramar Village.
“That was virtually how they announced the Bosa towers were coming to White Rock,” he said. “I sort of thought, really?
“I’ve never been what you would call a political observer before that. That’s sort of where it all began.”
Since then, he has run for office six times.
Chesney said the towers issue – and the lack of community engagement around it – is also what sparked him to launch www.whiterocksun.com, a site he “absolutely” plans to continue during his council term.
A self-described newspaper publisher, Chesney said he would not editorialize on the issues, describing the site as something that “will allow me to disseminate news in a more timely fashion.”
Chesney said one strength he’ll bring to the council table is a strong connection to the people of White Rock. The “tremendous amount of time” he spends talking to residents and business owners “affords me an opportunity to pretty much have my finger on the pulse of the community,” he said.
Priorities, he said, are rail safety and curtailing densification to the town centre. He said that while he is happy that the Little Campbell train bridge will be replaced this week, he remembers trying to bring the city’s attention to the issue to no avail two years ago.
As a resident, he said he was “a little taken aback” that neither council nor city staff responded, and he’s pledged to continue the “community conversations” he had during his campaign to hear from residents.
“I really want to open up that avenue of community consultation. I want people to feel they have a voice,” he said.
Chesney described White Rock as a fast-growing area with a disconnected arts community, something he believes his history in arts and entertainment will help address.
He described himself as a good leader who likes to get people excited about something; whose passion for the city has sometimes “been misconstrued.”
As well, “I’m as independent and grassroots as you can possibly humanly imagine.”
As a councillor, he will hold one of two seats won by independents; the second belongs to Fathers. The remaining four were won by White Rock Coalition members.
Chesney said he has “a lot of respect” for the campaign run by the coalition. However, based on comments he heard while out and about prior to Nov. 15, he wasn’t expecting them to win a majority on council.
“I was surprised because, without exception, everyone I talked to… said I don’t like a coalition, I don’t like a slate,” he said. “The fact they got as many votes as they did, that surprised me.”
He said time will tell if the coalition sticks to promises to vote on issues as each member feels appropriate, and not en masse.
“I hope we’re all there for the same reason… to do what we have told the people of White Rock we’re going to do.”