Local government elections see strong community interest in public office

·4 min read

There may be plenty of new people on the local political scene across the West Kootenay this fall, as dozens of people have thrown their hats in the ring for the October 15 municipal government election races.

The nomination period for local elections – being held across the province – closed on September 9. The number of nominations left no doubt there is a lot of interest in civic government this time around.

Races everywhere

Nakusp could have the largest number of new faces on council after the election, with only one incumbent running against six other people for four councillor chairs. Nakusp’s incumbent mayor, Tom Zeleznik, however, faced no challengers, so will return to his position for a second term.

In New Denver, five people are vying for four councillor seats, with three incumbents hoping to return. Gerald Wagner is the only incumbent councillor not seeking re-election. Incumbent mayor, Leonard Casley, is facing a challenge from former councillor Heather Fox.

Kaslo will also see a race for the mayor’s job, as incumbent Suzan Hewat faces Henry Van Mill (incumbent councillor) for the top job. Just two of the six candidates for the four-person council are incumbents.

Silverton will have at least a couple of familiar faces returning to council, as all four incumbents are trying for another term. Six people in total are vying for four seats. Meanwhile, Mayor Colin Ferguson was acclaimed to return to lead the Village for his second term. He was elected in a byelection just last year.

But by far the busiest ballot is the Village of Slocan, where 13 people are running for four council seats – that’s 4% of the community’s total population nominated for office. Only two incumbents (Madeleine Perriere and Ezra Buller) are running for another term as councillor in that community. The Village has 11 women on the ballot for council, the most in the region.

Slocan’s mayor is also facing a challenge, with former councillor Dave Fredrickson hoping to oust incumbent Jessica Lunn.

No fight for RDCK directorships

Meanwhile, there will be no races for the job of area director for the RDCK positions in the Valley Voice readership area. In Area K (rural Arrow Lakes), outgoing director Paul Peterson’s hand-picked successor, Teresa Weatherhead, faced no challengers for the job. Weatherhead has acted as Peterson’s alternate for the last few years.

In Area H (the Slocan Valley), Walter Popoff was also acclaimed for a fifth term. And in Area D, Aimee Watson was also given tacit endorsement by the community, with no one running against her. This will be her third term as Area D director. She has served as chair of the RDCK board since 2019.

The public seems pretty satisfied with its regional government representation, with just five of the RDCK’s 11 electoral areas seeing election races. The rest are acclaimed.

School boards

Arrow Lakes School District 10 will see no election take place, as only one person entered the race for one empty trustee seat, and the other trustees faced no challengers in their areas. Lora Lee Brekke was the one trustee who did not run again this year, leaving her seat open for the one applicant for the job, Amanda Murphy. Brekke served for 20 years (five terms) as a School District 10 trustee, from 2002 to 2022.

However, there will be races for the two Kootenay Lake SD 8 trustee positions in the Valley Voice area. The incumbents are being challenged for the Kaslo and North Kootenay Lake and the Slocan Valley/Bonnington seats.

Be informed

The lists above are not official, and candidates had until September16 to withdraw.

All those running for the various positions have been invited by the Valley Voice to submit a short statement about their candidacy. You’ll find their comments elsewhere in this paper. As well, the Voice will be co-sponsoring (with the Slocan Valley Chamber of Commerce) all-candidates debates for Silverton, New Denver and Slocan. See the ad on page 7 for details. The Nakusp Rotary Club will be sponsoring an all-candidates meeting in that community. See ad on page for details. Those meetings will be covered in our next edition. (At press time we were still waiting to hear if Kaslo would also be holding an all-candidates meeting.)

Election Day is Saturday, October 15, with advance polls being held in each community. Check the newspaper ads elsewhere in this paper for more information on how to vote in the municipal election.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice