What a difference three years can make.
In 2011, there was no shortage of people contesting the available seats in Lumby, Spallumcheen and Coldstream. Fast forward to the close of nominations at 4 p.m. last Friday, Lumby council was acclaimed lock, stock and barrel and it was only at the last minute that a similar scenario was avoided in the other two communities.
There are a few scenarios at work.
“It says we’re doing a pretty good job. I hope it’s not because people are not interested in their town,” said Kevin Acton, Lumby’s mayor.
There are very likely some residents in the village who are pleased with the direction taken by Acton and council (all are returning except a retiring Jo Anne Fisher whose seat has gone to newcomer Julie Pilon).
But another critical factor is there wasn’t a hot button issue this year, whereas the 2011 election was dominated by plans for a prison, which divided friends, neighbours and families. As a result of the acrimony, there were three candidates for mayor and seven individuals running for the four councillor seats.
It should also be mentioned that Lumby administration was left entertaining media questions about what would happen if there weren’t sufficient nominations to fill the four council seats because by about 2 p.m. Friday, Pilon still hadn’t filed for the final spot.
Just to the west on Highway 6, Jim Garlick has been acclaimed to a third term as the district’s mayor while he had competition in 2011. There were eight people vying for the six councillor positions then, but until late last Thursday, it was increasingly looking like there would be no election. That changed when incumbent Richard Enns filed, becoming the seventh candidate.
I was somewhat surprised by the lack of interest in Coldstream given a couple of factors. First, I suspected that a majority of current council approving zoning for a pellet plant next to Lavington Elementary would galvanize those critical of the facility and they would offer an electoral alternative. I also wondered if the Greater Vernon Governance Society’s efforts to encourage amalgamation with Vernon would draw like-minded Coldstream residents out of the woodwork. But on both fronts, strong opposition to current council`s vision has not materialized.
Much like Lumby, Spallumcheen, officials were also wondering if they would actually have enough people to fill the six council seats. But just before deadline Friday, Linda Griffin walked into the township office and handed in her nomination papers – triggering a full-scale election.
Elsewhere in the region, the call for amalgamation sustained another setback with Area B director Bob Fleming and Area C director Mike Macnabb being acclaimed to four-year terms. It`s difficult to know if residents are satisfied with the job being done by the BX boys or if they just aren’t willing to get politically active themselves now that terms are four years long.
But while Lumby voters can stay at home Nov. 15 and the Spallumcheen and Coldstream elections are rather anti-climactic, there are other jurisdictions to keep a close eye on.
Of course the big enchilada is Vernon, where five candidates will duke it out for the mayor’s chair and 14 want six council jobs. Other elections to watch are Howie Cyr and Greg McCune going head-to-head for Enderby mayor, and in Armstrong where there are a 12 people running for councillor.
Election time is here. Keep yourself informed, get to know your candidates and get out and vote.