It was an early afternoon on a cold October 2010 day, joked Armstrong councillor Shirley Fowler, that she opened the doors to the Regional District of North Okanagan on Aberdeen Road in Coldstream, about to learn the politics of the entire region.
Fast forward 13 years to a grey, rainy afternoon, Wednesday, Nov. 15, when Fowler walked through those regional district doors as a savvy, veteran politician, long departed from the younger, naive politician she said she was in 2010.
She let her name stand for chairperson in the RDNO board chair elections, and defeated fellow directors Christine Fraser, Mayor of Spallumcheen; and outgoing vice-chair Amanda Shatzko of Electoral Area C.
Fowler replaces Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton as board chair. Acton, newly acclaimed candidate for the BC United in the Vernon-Monashee riding, did not let his name stand.
“I’ve proudly served on this board, working together with fellow members and management, navigating the best ways to accomplish what are sometimes difficult goals,” said Fowler, who has served on Armstrong council for 18 years. “I will offer RDNO directors the continued confidence that everyone will be heard, including the Indigenous communities, the municipalities and the electoral areas in the regional decision-making process.”
The new vice-chair of the RDNO board is Electoral Area F Rural Enderby director Allysa Hopkins, who brings more than 20-plus years of working in the private and not-for-profit sector. Prior to moving to the North Okanagan to operate a farm, Hopkins was the vice-president of Small Business BC for 10 years, working closely with all levels of government.
“I’m passionate about where we live and am heavily engaged with our local community,” said Hopkins. “I welcome the opportunity and am truly honoured to serve as vice-chair.”
Hopkins beat out Shatzko and Vernon councillor Kari Gares for the position in a vote among directors. Fraser and Electoral Area B director Bob Fleming declined nominations.
Fowler and Hopkins were both nominated by Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming.
Shatzko is among the BC United candidates for the newly created Kelowna-Lake Country-Coldstream riding for the 2024 provincial election. She did state publicly that if she wins the riding nomination, she would step aside as RDNO board chair or vice-chair if she was elected.
Chief administrative officer David Sewell praised Acton for his efforts as board chair.
“We certainly appreciated his support,” said Sewell. “Thank you, Kevin, for all of your work.”