There could be plenty of new people on the local West Kootenay political scene this fall, as dozens threw their hats into the ring for the Oct. 15 municipal election.
The nomination period for local elections – which take place across the province – closed on September 9th. The number of remaining applications is no doubt that there is a lot of interest in civic government this time around.
Nakusp could have the most new faces on the board after the election, with just one incumbent running against six others for four council seats. Nakusp’s outgoing mayor, Tom Zeleznik, however, faced no challengers, so he will return to his post for a second term.
In New Denver, five people are vying for four council seats, and three incumbents are hoping to return. Gerald Wagner is the only outgoing councilor not to run again. Incumbent mayor Leonard Casley faces a challenge from former councilor Heather Fox.
Kaslo will also see a race for mayor, as incumbent Suzan Hewat takes on Henry Van Mill (incumbent councilor) for the top job. Only two of the six candidates for the four-person board are incumbents.
Silverton will have at least a few familiar faces returning to the board as all four incumbents attempt another term. A total of six people are vying for four seats. Meanwhile, Mayor Colin Ferguson has been cheered to return to lead the village for his second term. He was elected in a by-election last year.
But by far the busiest poll is in the village of Slocan, where 13 people are running for four council seats, or 4% of the total population of the nominated community. Only two incumbents (Madeleine Perriere and Ezra Buller) are running for another term as councilor in this community. The Village has 11 women on the ballot for council, the most in the area.
The mayor of Slocan also faces a challenge, with former councilor Dave Fredrickson hoping to oust incumbent Jessica Lunn.
No fight for RDCK directorships
During this time, there will be no races for the position of Area Director for RDCK positions in the Valley Voice Readership Area. In Area K (rural area of Arrow Lakes), outgoing director Paul Peterson’s hand-picked successor, Teresa Weatherhead, faced no challengers for the job. Weatherhead has acted as Peterson’s backup for the past few years.
In Area H (the Slocan Valley), Walter Popoff was also acclaimed for a fifth term. And in Area D, Aimee Watson also received tacit approval from the community, with no one coming forward against her. This will be her third term as Zone D Director. She has served as RDCK Board Chair since 2019.
The public seems quite happy with the representation of its regional government, with only five of the RDCK’s 11 electoral zones seeing electoral races. The rest is acclaimed.
Arrow Lakes School District 10 will not see an election held, as only one person entered the race for an empty trustee seat, and the other trustees faced no challengers in their regions. Lora Lee Brekke was the only director who did not run again this year, leaving her seat open to the sole candidate for the position, Amanda Murphy. Brekke served 20 years (five terms) as administrator of School District 10, from 2002 to 2022.
However, there will be races for both Kootenay Lake SD 8 director positions in the Valley Voice region. The incumbents are challenged for the seats of Kaslo and North Kootenay Lake and Slocan Valley/Bonnington.
To be informed
The above lists are unofficial, and candidates had until September 16 to opt out.
All those running for the various positions have been asked by the Valley Voice to submit a short statement about their candidacy. You will find their comments elsewhere in this document. Additionally, The Voice will co-sponsor (with the Slocan Valley Chamber of Commerce) the all-candidates debates for Silverton, New Denver and Slocan. See ad on page 7 for more details. The Rotary Club of Nakusp will sponsor a meeting of all candidates in this community. See ad on page for more details. These meetings will be covered in our next issue. (As of press time, we were still waiting to hear if Kaslo would also hold an all-candidates meeting.)
Election day is Saturday, October 15, with advance polls in every community. See newspaper advertisements elsewhere in this newspaper for more information on how to vote in municipal elections.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Valley Voice