Jenny Stevens is the only council member who was returned to office last weekend. It’s the second consecutive election Stevens has managed to hold on to her seat while the rest of the team either didn’t run again, or was rejected by voters.
‘I’m not sure how I survived,” said Stevens, who answered questions throughout the election campaign, but kept a low profile otherwise.
“I didn’t get as many votes as I did last time. I gather there was some concerns about me being old and competent with the job.”
Stevens explained she underwent dozens of health checks prior to committing to another term in office.
“All they came up with is I’m blind, with a bad back,” said the 77-year-old Stevens. “Otherwise, I’m disgustingly healthy. Everything else still works.”
Stevens topped the polls in the 2011 election with 3,720 votes when she ran with the Citizens for Responsible Municipal Government (CRMG) team, but her popularity dropped with a fifth place finish in the 2014 election with 2,587 votes.
Stevens joined CRMG more than three years ago because she liked the concept.
“It started with really good ideals and principles,” she noted. “In the first 18 months we achieved a lot of stuff … but personalties took over … not everyone was getting a voice.”
Stevens said she, like others, tried to get the team back on track, but the disagreements started to come out in council meetings.
In desperation, she resigned from the group and introduced a lack of confidence motion in the mayor earlier this year, which was supported three other councillors who also broke away from the group.
“It was a turning point on council,” said Stevens. “CRMG could’ve been a great thing.”
This is Stevens’ sixth consecutive term on council, making her the longest serving councillor in recent history.
Stevens was first elected to council in 1999. Randy Hawes was mayor at the time, and now she is looking forward to working with Hawes again.
Stevens told The Record that serving as a councillor is her way of giving back to a community that helped her when she first came to Mission in 1982 with six children, an absent husband and a few thousand dollars to her name.
“I had a tough time surviving that year, and I wouldn’t have without the Mission people,” recalled the councillor, who was working as a physiotherapist at the time.
“Now I’m paying a debt with a job I love doing.”
For the next four years, Stevens will be working with a team she is familiar with. “Most I’ve worked with before,” she stated.
Her biggest issue this term is to create more jobs in Mission and get more people involved in the community.
Residents who travel out of the community for work are usually tired at the end of the day. Creating more local jobs will help engage people and could lead to more volunteers, said Stevens.