Most of council running again, but not Campol

By on January 9, 2018

Present council members are (front from left): Coun. Mike Campol, Mayor Sue McKortoff, Coun. Carol Youngberg. (Back from left): Sarabjit Rai (water councillor), Coun. C.J. Rhodes, Claude Moreira (water councillor) and Coun. Jim King. (Contributed photo)

Osoyoos town council can expect to see at least one new face after elections this fall, whether or not two new councillor positions are added.

Coun. Mike Campol has confirmed he does not plan to seek re-election, though most present members do plan to run again.

Mayor Sue McKortoff, Coun. C.J. Rhodes and Coun. Jim King all say they plan to seek re-election in the Oct. 20 municipal elections.

Coun. Carol Youngberg, reached in Mexico, said she hasn’t yet made up her mind and won’t announce until closer to election day.

“I would prefer to wait on any disclosure until September because I have many business projects on the go at the moment,” said Youngberg. “It will depend on how much time I’m going to have going forward.”

While the election is still 10 months away, potential new candidates typically consider which incumbents are running again before deciding whether to launch their own campaigns.

So far, no other potential candidates have publicly announced plans to run.

Council is expected to discuss at its next meeting on Jan. 15 a proposal to expand council by two members.

An unscientific online poll on the town’s website showed 71 per cent opposed, 22 per cent in favour and six per cent undecided as of Monday, based on 325 responses.

The poll asks: “Should the town add $50,000 to its annual budget for two additional members of council?”

King, still in his first term, said he plans to run again because there are still things he would like to accomplish.

One of these, he said is the proposed aquatic centre that would be a joint project of Osoyoos, Oliver, the Osoyoos Indian Band and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

King said his first term has gone well so far.

“I think the first six or eight months is really a learning curve,” he said. “The do’s and don’ts, how you participate in council and then trying to lobby for some of your own pet projects besides just sewer and roads.”

McKortoff, who was first elected as a councillor in 2011, was elected to her first term as mayor in November 2015. She’s clear that she wants to run again.

“I’ve got good health, I’ve got the time, I’ve got the energy,” she said in a video interview (see story and video on OsoyoosTimes.com). “I would like to do it again.”

Rhodes, the council veteran, first elected in 2008, said he’s been fortunate to serve on three councils that have brought positive change to Osoyoos.

“I feel that Osoyoos has a great future and being a part of that future is a privilege and a rewarding experience,” he said.

He noted that the town has had strong economic viability and financial numbers for years and said that has motivated him during his time on council.

Campol, however, said he was able to devote time to council because he was an independent contractor for most of the past term and could balance his time as he saw fit.

“Not knowing where I’m going to be down the road and sort of re-evaluating our situation here, it wouldn’t make sense for me to lock in for another four-year term,” he said. “I can’t see myself having that flexibility down the road.”

He said he believes if you’re going to serve on council, you need to do more to really engage with the community than simply showing up twice a month for meetings.

Campol expressed concern that it’s difficult to attract broader representation on council the way it is structured now with daytime meetings.

“It’s very hard for a middle-aged or younger working person or business person to properly engage in municipal council the way it is set up now,” he said. “It really opens the door to people that are retired, which isn’t a bad thing, but if your entire council ends up being made up that way, it can’t really represent everybody.”

That’s why he favours expanding council and moving to evening meetings, he said.

“Any time you expand council you’ve got more diversity of opinion,” he said, adding that he isn’t happy with the online survey because it focuses only on the dollar amount.

On a per-taxpayer basis, the cost is “nickels” he said, adding that the most important reason for expansion is to make council more representative.

“But I think in order to make that happen, you’ve got to move the meetings to evenings,” Campol said. “It’s hard to take a day where you’ve got a meeting in the morning and one in the afternoon and you’re trying to run a business or you’re working for an employer.”

Rhodes said he sees pros and cons to expanding council, but he opposes it because of the cost and because he doesn’t believe in change for the sake of change.

“I always support the lean approach to council business as long as the job is being done and the best interests of residents are served,” said Rhodes.

King said he doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other about expanding council.

“You would have more dialogue I guess, more opinions if you had a bigger council,” King said. “Your meetings will definitely go longer for sure, more discussion and a broader stance on input.”

McKortoff said she sees both sides on the proposal, but she questions whether this would be the best use of the $50,000 additional for remuneration and benefits of the two extra councillors.

“I think that the five of us have a wide range of ideas and opinions and backgrounds on things,” she said. “I think people are getting their money’s worth listening to all five of us.”

She noted that there are also two water councillors who only vote on water issues and she wondered if council could make better use of them, adding that this is easier said than done.

Rhodes said it’s essential to encourage new people to step forward to run for council.

“New faces on council always bring new ideas and opinions to Osoyoos, which can be a huge benefit to all of its residents,” he said.

Campol said that although he won’t be running, he’ll be actively encouraging people he thinks would be good representatives for the town.

RICHARD McGUIRE

Osoyoos Times

 

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