Seventeen Similkameen area municipal candidates presented their election platforms to a standing room only crowd at Keremeos’ Victory Hall last Wednesday.
Every municipal position in the Lower Similkameen is being contested this year, and the large number of candidates seems to be translating into renewed voter interest – if the huge turnout to Victory Hall is any indication.
The meeting was tightly controlled in terms of the candidate’s allotted time to introduce themselves, answer questions, and wrap up. Even so, the meeting ran close to three hours.
The three school trustees were first to make their three minute opening remarks.
Debbie Marten spoke of her 19 years served as trustee, while Myrna Coates offered a ready time commitment to the position of school trustee. Gary Johnson spoke of his long experience in the educational field and the need for School District 53 to rise up to future challenges.
The two candidates for Keremeos mayor were next, Councillor Manfred Bauer outlining his extensive volunteer activities and two terms spent on council as qualifications to serve as mayor. Glenn Goguen described his seven years residency in Keremeos along with a number of ideas he would like to implement as his qualifications for seeking the mayor’s chair.
Area “B” candidate Lee McFadyen, described her long term residency in the valley (since 1970) and her experience as a Registered Nurse as qualifications to seek the director’s seat. She cited work on the Official Community Plan as an important goal.
George Bush – who elicited a laugh from the audience by introducing himself and stating, “I hate to tell people that,” described his long standing in the area as a member of the farming community and his desire to play an active role in water stewardship in the valley as his main reasons for running.
Colleen Christensen said that she was a 61 year resident of Cawston and years helping with the family business and working at the Infocentre had prepared her for the director’s job. She placed high value on listening and thoughtful contemplation.
Of six council candidates, incumbent Gary Thielmann expressed a desire to finish the Liquid Waste Management Plan, as well as continuing to revisit the Official Community Plan as his goals for the next term. His background as a physicist and teacher, as well as a term served on council were some of his qualifications.
Incumbent Charlene Cowling noted her business background, nine years of volunteer work and three years on council as some of her attributes. She expressed the desire to ensure that the quality of life is maintained in the valley and to continue work on the village OCP.
Arlene Arlow, a village resident since 2005, considered her work ethic, and knowledge of issues as her qualifications. She felt that policing and bylaw enforcement were key issues that she would be interested in pursuing and improving on should she be elected.
Frank Kennedy, a resident since 2005, expressed a desire to replace everyone on council and the director of Area “G,” reasoning that change is necessary. He proposed to super educate kids, and revitalize business in Keremeos, predicting that the town would come together in the next 10 months to achieve a number of envisioned goals.
Jeremy Evans, who took a sabatical from council three years ago, noted that the village had grown appreciably in the last 12 years. He praised the efforts of outgoing mayor Walter Despot and promised to pick up where he left off three years ago.
Dave Stein admitted to living out of town, but expressed a deep affinity for the village. He valued honesty, accountability and integrity, in addition to having performed 300 hours of volunteer work for the Elks Rodeo this year.
“Vote for me and you’ll get more than you bargained for,” he concluded.
Area “B” candidate Flo Winfrey told the assembly that she “wanted to care for all of you.”
She promised transparent, responsible government and educational opportunities for all children. She admitted to a passion for supporting citizen endeavours, and wanted to see an industrial arts training centre established in Area “G,” while also asking where the money for a planned water upgrade in Olalla was coming from.
Incumbent Elef Christensen noted that he had attended a lot of meetings in the past three years, gaining a lot of experience. He cited issues such as flood control on Keremeos Creek, improving internet and cell phone signals in the Similkameen, and establishing free B.C. medical insurance for seniors as important issues moving into the next three years. He asked to be re-elected in order to finish these projects, noting that he had reduced taxes and had a track record that revealed a balanced approach.
Angelique Wood engaged her audience, leaving the candidate’s table and moving to the edge of the audience to make her opening remarks.
She promised to listen to the community, bring their issues to the board and report back to the community. She also expressed a desire to work in collaboration with others in the valley and on the board in order to achieve the goals of Area “G.”
For more on the Keremeos all candidates meeting, please see page 4.