Mayoralty race heats up in Lake Country

Lake Country Mayor James Baker faces Coun. Noreen Guenther and former councillor Jayson McCarthy in November election

There wasn’t a race for Lake Country mayor in 2008, but that won’t be the case this time around.

Both Coun. Noreen Guenther and former councillor Jayson McCarthy have announced they will challenge incumbent James Baker for the mayor’s chair Nov. 19.

“Any time we get interest in local government is positive. It should be a good contest,” said Baker, who was acclaimed to a second term in 2008.

Guenther, who grew up in Okanagan Centre, has been the Oyama ward councillor for six years. She is also president of the Southern Interior Local Government Association and vice-chairperson of Okanagan Regional Library.

“This is a natural progression and I believe I have the leadership skills to make a difference in the community,” said Guenther of running for mayor.

“I can look at things with a fresh approach.”

Among the issues of concern are developing a recreation corridor along Wood Lake, pursuing partnerships for the town centre and tackling aging infrastructure.

“We need to establish a process to live within our means while addressing these issues,” said Guenther of infrastructure.

The 46-year-old Guenther is a licensed practical nurse and she recently completed her diploma in public sector management.

McCarthy is a lifelong Lake Country resident who lives in Oyama and is a realtor.

“I have heard many local residents expressing a desire for local government that is more active and responsive to their concerns,” said McCarthy, 44, who served on council from 1999 to 2005.

McCarthy says issues raised by residents include the need for sidewalks to improve pedestrian safety, more enforcement of unsightly premises and a town centre in Winfield.

“I’m ready to take up the challenges and work with residents, council, and our partners to find solutions more quickly than we have seen in the past.”

McCarthy has previously served as chairperson of the community development committee, the planning and building committee and the parks and recreation commission.

Baker says he is pleased with the actions taken over his last two terms as mayor.

“The people I speak to think we’re going in the right direction providing services without raising taxes a whole lot,” he said.

“There are projects we have started and I am stimulated that we’re moving in a direction I’ve wanted to go for some time.”

Among Baker’s concerns are moving ahead with the official community plan, addressing issues around farm-based campgrounds and ensuring strong, fiscal planning.

“We’ve looked at the asset deficit with infrastructure and what it will take to get things in good shape,” said Baker.

 

Baker, 70, is a retired university professor, who was electoral area director prior to incorporation in 1995.