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Two councillors still unsure about seeking re-election
With just under six months to go until the municipal election takes place across B.C. and here in Osoyoos, it appears there could be one or maybe even two vacancies on Town of Osoyoos council.
But, then again, there might not be any.
That’s because incumbent councillors Mike Plante and Michael Ryan have not yet decided whether or not they will seek re-election in the upcoming municipal election, which will take place across the province on Saturday, Nov. 15.
Mayor Stu Wells, veteran councillor C.J. Rhodes and Sue McKortoff, who is finishing her first term in office, have all announced they will be seeking re-election in November.
Plante, who is also a rookie councillor completing his first term in municipal politics, said he has thoroughly enjoyed his experience as a town councillor and would love to run again.
However, Plante and his wife Holly, have just signed a new deal to become the co-owners of the new Landsea Okanagan tourist guiding company and he’s not sure if he’s going to have enough time to make the commitment to remaining on council.
“I have to make that difficult decision very soon,” said Plante. “I have a lot of things on the go with the new business and I’m going to have to sit down with my wife and family and decide exactly what I’m going to do.
“I’m the type of person that when he commits to something, it has to be 110 per cent and I have to make a decision on whether or not I will be able to fulfill all my commitments as a councillor should I run again and be re-elected. I’m going to sit down and think very seriously about this in the next few weeks and hope to make a final decision in the next month or so.”
Plante said he doesn’t have a single regret about seeking public office.
“I have loved being a member of this council as I think we’ve accomplished a lot,” he said. “The only issue with me is time commitment because running this new business is going to take an awful lot of my time and you can get pulled in an awful lot of directions with a new business.”
Ryan, 74, who is completing his second full term as a councillor after unsuccessfully running to become mayor back in 2005 when he lost to John Slater, said he also hasn’t decided whether or not he will run for re-election.
“I haven’t made up my mind,” he said. “The election is six months away and I honestly don’t think I will be making my decision, one way or the other, until we have to file our election papers sometime in late August.”
Ryan said he has “absolutely loved” his past six years as a town councillor in Osoyoos and is proud of many things the current council have accomplished during that time.
Ryan is “feeling great after a little health scare” over the past several months and has been given a clean bill of health, but admitted the only thing that would prevent him from running again is the time commitment involved with being a councillor.
“It has been an absolutely wonderful experience over the past six years,” he said. “I just have to decide whether or not I can commit all of the time necessary to continue doing a good job as a councillor.”
Rhodes, who owns and operates RnR Rentals Ltd., said he has also enjoyed his past five-plus years on council and wants to continue the good work that has taken place in the community since he was first elected.
“Over the last six years it has been my privilege to work with two councils who have brought positive change to Osoyoos,” said Rhodes. “Being a part of the operation of our town is something that I am keenly interested in.
“I will stand as candidate next fall so that I can continue to be a part of the decision making process and work toward making Osoyoos the best it can be.”
Rhodes said the current council has worked very well together and accomplished many good things, including numerous large infrastructure projects.
“The Northwest Sewer Project was a major accomplishment that has helped maintain the overall health of Osoyoos Lake,” he said. “This project is the one I am most proud of as it ensures the ongoing preservation of our lake as a major tourist attraction.
The current council is one that functions very well because of mutual respect, said Rhodes.
“There is a strong commitment by each council member to do the right thing and remain focused on making Osoyoos viable financially and improving amenities for all residents,” he said.
If re-elected, Rhodes said his goals include working hard to maintain economic success and growth for the town and its residents.
“With a solid financial portfolio our community can move forward and be better than the past,” he said. “Additionally, I would continue to encourage residents to recognize the benefits to our community of buying / shopping local.”
Continued work with environmental, recycling and landfill matters are also high personal priorities, he said.
McKortoff said she has tried to improve the quality of life of local residents for more than 30 years by being heavily involved in volunteer work and becoming a councillor has allowed her to have even more beneficial impact on the community she loves.
“I have just loved it,” she said about her first experience in municipal politics. “It’s right up my alley as I come from many years of volunteering to try and improve our community.
“It has been a huge learning experience, but a very rewarding one. All members of council have different opinions on things, but at the end of the day we all want what’s best for our town and our citizens and it has been a pleasure being part of a team that is determined to do what’s best for everyone involved.”
McKortoff agreed there is “great mutual respect” among the current members of council and this has resulted in decisions that have moved this community forward.
“We don’t always agree on everything, but that’s perfectly fine as long as we respect the opinion of others and make decisions that we feel are in the best interests of our citizens,” she said. “At the end of the day, I think we almost always come up with decisions that help the most.”
Wells, who is finishing his second term as mayor after one term as a councillor, said he has never thought of not running for re-election.
“When all is said and done, it has been a huge privilege and an honour to be the mayor of the Town of Osoyoos.”
Wells said he hopes all members of the current council decide to return.
“I hope they would all be back, but if not, I would hope we can continue to do good work with a new team,” he said.
The amount of important infrastructure projects that have been completed since the last election in 2011 is what he is most proud of as mayor, said Wells.
“We’ve completed a lot of very important and large projects that have really improved the town,” he said.
Some of those projects include the new lift station from Legion Beach to the town lagoon, the Northwest Sewer Project, upgrades to numerous town parks, opening of the Osoyoos Splash Park and new town marina.
“One of the biggest reasons I want to come back as mayor is that we still have some unfinished business on major projects … like the new town fire hall, the effluent expansion project up to the airport and some major new housing development projects that are on the books for the next year or two,” he said. “I want to be part of those and see how they land.”