Candidate lists are out for this November’s municipal election, and many current incumbent officials are seeking re-election.
Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, Canal Flats mayor Ute Juras, Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Area F director Wendy Booth and RDEK Area G director Gerry Wilkie all declared their intent to run again, and with nobody else wanting to run for the position of Invermere mayor or Area G director, Mr. Taft and Mr. Wilkie are in by acclamation.
Ms. Juras is being challenged for the Canal Flats mayor position by current Canal Flats councillor Dean Midyette, and Ms. Booth is being challenged for the Area F director role by David Thompson Secondary School teacher and Windermere resident Andrea Dunlop.
“I’m a little bit surprised, you always assume somebody will run against you, but it is a relief not to have to go through the stress and effort of an election campaign,” said Mr. Taft, adding that he’s looking forward to his third term as Invermere’s mayor (and fifth term on Invermere council).
“We’re in the middle of some exciting projects here in Invermere, such as the Cenotaph Park and the multi-use centre, and we’ve got some momentum going with them, so it’s nice to know I’ll be able to help see them further along,” said Mr. Taft. He added that the new change in municipal term lengths from three years to four will allow the incoming council a bit more time to achieve its goals.
The Pioneer attempted to contact Mr. Wilkie but was unable to reach him by Wednesday’s press deadline.
In Radium Hot Springs, current mayor Dee Conklin is not seeking re-election and will step down at the end of her current term, with current two-time councillor Clara Reinhardt set to take the position of mayor by acclamation as the only candidate.
“It came as a surprise to receive the call on Friday (Editor’s note: October 10th was the deadline for municipal candidates to declare their intent to run) letting me know I had been acclaimed as mayor of Radium Hot Springs.
Upon reflection during the weekend, I am both humbled and excited,” said Ms. Reinhardt. “My role as Ms. Conklin’s alternate to the regional district this past term has helped to prepare me for the position (of mayor).”
Further south, Ms. Booth, in a press release, cited her success in securing grants for flood mitigation and other community projects during her past two terms, her past experience working with various levels of government, and her desire to see through projects such as the Windermere water system upgrades and mitigation of flooding and sedimentation in Windermere Creek as reasons for seeking a third term in Area F, one of the largest electoral areas in the RDEK.
“There is a lot of work ahead and I want to get on with it,” said Ms. Booth in the release. “Water, its quality and its impact, continues to be a crucial topic throughout the whole of Area F.”
The Pioneer attempted to contact Ms. Dunlop about her bid for Area F director, but was unable to reach her by press deadline.
In a press release, Ms. Juras cites her decade of experience on Canal Flats council and nine years representing the village at the RDEK board of directors as reason for her bid for a second term as mayor. She also points to her involvement with projects such as the trail to the source of the Columbia River, funding for a walkway within the village, the $1.2 million arena renovations, the Columbia Discovery Centre and the upcoming water system upgrades.
“As this first term as mayor comes to a close for me, I feel that there is still so much that I want to do to move this wonderful village forward,” said Ms. Juras in the release. “These past 10 years have been such an incredible experience that I’m not quite ready to hand over the torch.”
Her challenger, Mr. Midyette, offers his role as chair of the village’s Water System Upgrade Committee in bringing the divisive water system upgrade issue to a resolution under budget, and his vision for the future of Canal Flats, as reasons for his bid to unseat Ms. Juras.
“I have drafted an economic development plan which was debated and accepted by council at our October 14th meeting, with the implementation of the plan forming the foundation of my (election) platform,” said Mr. Midyette in a press release, adding he looks forward to a mayoral candidate debate.
“During the last election cycle all (Canal Flats) candidates were acclaimed. There was no discussion around a vision for the village nor was there a forum where the candidates spoke publicly of their credentials or defended previous decisions,” he said.
Canal Flats has five candidates vying for its four councillor positions — incumbent Marie Delorme, Erin Gornik, incumbent Paul Marcil, Karl Sterzer and Roy Webb (after incumbent Gilbert Delorme dropped out of the race). Radium has five people in the running for four councillor spots — Ray Abot, incumbent Karen Larsen, incumbent Todd Logan, Tyler McCauley, and incumbent Ron Verboom. In Invermere, six candidates initially declared their intent to run for councillor, but one (Karl Conway) dropped out, leaving five candidates vying for four spots — incumbent Greg Anderson, incumbent Justin Atterbury, Kayja Becker, incumbent Paul Denchuk and previous councillor (2008-2011) Al Miller.
Mr. Taft said he’s surprised by how quiet this year’s election is in Invermere, given that the last election in 2011 saw a total of 12 candidates (two for mayor, 10 for councillor) run for the five spots on council.
For the Rocky Mountain School District No. 6 school board trustee positions, Invermere resident Rosemary Oaks will be trustee for electoral Area 4 by acclamation, and two candidates — Canal Flats resident Amber Byklum and Fairmont Hot Springs resident Cory Stanbury — will battle for the Area 5 trustee position.
Stay tuned for The Pioneer’s “Meet the Candidates” feature, which will run in an upcoming issue. Weekly questions will run in The Valley Echo for the next four weeks, to which candidates will have an opportunity to answer and provide readers with more information about their positions on current issues.