With extensive knowledge of daily municipal affairs, Marje Makow is running for council.
Having retired from the municipality in 2010 after some 23 years of service, including 11 years as corporate officer, Makow is now eligible to pursue her longtime desire to run for municipal office.
“I feel I can contribute meaningfully to our community,” she said.
Before moving to B.C., Makow acquired a teaching certificate from the Saskatchewan Teachers College and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan.
She taught elementary school for several years before accepting a receptionist position at the municipal office, where she moved up in rank to become the district’s acting clerk in 1996.
Working closely with council members, Makow developed a thorough understanding of planning and fiscal matters and assisted residents of the community with their questions and concerns.
She prepared bylaws, agendas, organized meetings and public notifications, wrote many reports and conducted detailed background research on various matters for council, among other things.
Makow also served as the chief officer for elections, by-elections and referendums.
In 1999, she earned an intermediate certificate in municipal administration, a two-year university program involving finance, administration, municipal services and government law studies.
“All my years of municipal experiences, they will be totally invaluable to me if elected,” she said.
The learning curve for new councillors is fairly steep and can sometimes last for a full three-year term, said Makow.
“It takes a long time for a rookie councillor to get up to speed with what’s really going on,” she said.
“I think I can get a real jump on that.”
In addition to her insider knowledge of municipal affairs, Makow believes the current male-dominated council would also benefit from having a woman’s voice at the table.
“Women have the ability to see different issues from different perspectives,” she said.
“Councils we’ve had in previous years who have had women at the table have been some of the best councils Vanderhoof ever had, with all due respect.”
As the Feb. 16 by-election approaches, Makow is focusing on a list of objectives, some of which she plans on presenting to the community at an all-candidates forum on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the small auditorium at Nechako Valley Secondary School (NVSS).
“I think council needs to get back to focusing on some projects that have been in the works for a while but seem to have been put on the back burner,” she said.
If elected, Makow would like to restart the town’s effort to establish a community recreational centre. She would also like to work towards developing the old Rotary Park on Highway 16 West, which has been closed for several years.
A more pressing matter for her is the scarcity of seniors’ housing in Vanderhoof.
“There is hardly any available, and we already have such a long waiting list for the few opportunities that already exist out there.”
Managing taxes more effectively is also an area where Makow believes she can make a difference.
“It seems that our taxes keep going up and up, and I’m sure there are opportunities for cost savings there,” she said.
Makow also acknowledges the importance of preparing for the day when Vanderhoof surpasses a population of 5,000 and inherits operational costs for municipal policing, estimated to be in excess of $1 million annually.
“Our taxpayers will be taking a huge hit when that day finally comes,” she said.
The increasing pressures of a growing community may also require the services of a full-time municipal planner, Makow added.
“Vanderhoof is on the cusp of some exciting times and I would like to expend my energies on projects that will move our community forward and prepare it for growth,” she said.
In the lead up to the by-election, Makow feels her professional experiences place her in good stead among candidates John Murphy and Peet Vahi.
Her bid for election also reflects her strong belief in contributing to the community.
In the past, Makow has belonged to the Vanderhoof Minor Hockey Association and the Figure Skating Association. In addition to her volunteer work at The Manor, Makow also served as a volunteer for NVSS musical productions, the Nechako Valley Music Festival and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Currently, she sits as an executive member on the Vanderhoof and Districts Co-op Association Board of Directors.
“I like getting out in the community and doing things, and I think it’s important that we give back some of our time,” said Makow.
Marje Makow is running for council in the Vanderhoof by-election, Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Nechako Senior Friendship Centre from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Advanced voting is available at the Municipal Office on Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Chamber of Commerce is organizing an all-candidates forum on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the small auditorium at NVSS.