For the first time in six years, Vanderhoof is going to have a mayoral election.
A forum, held on Oct. 29 at the Senior Friendship Centre, gave candidates a chance to express their views. Approximately 100 residents came to the event and were able to submit written questions to be answered individually or by both candidates.
The current mayor of Vanderhoof, Gerry Thiessen, who is running for what would be his third term, showed great confidence in his ability throughout the entire night. He opened the evening with comments about his extensive family ties to Vanderhoof which have contributed to his own invested interest. He made note to address transparency saying ‘if you come to council you will be our guest’, and also addressed spending by acknowledging that the DOV has just one payment left on the sewage treatment plant which will make Vanderhoof free of long-term debt, all under his rein. Throughout the evening he also addressed brownfield sites, housing, transportation and bringing more trades education to town.
Jessi Wilson, a new-to-politics candidate, strongly enforced that although she has not sat on council she has the enthusiasm and experience having been part of various community organizations such as president of the Chamber of Commerce for eight years. She spoke about her motivation of wanting the best for the town, ‘a place she grew up in and raised her children in’. She also mentioned that she has knowledge on what the current council does because she regularly attends council meetings. Ms. Wilson was not as knowledgable on subjects pertaining to business relationships already built but humbly enforced that she is a quick learner and great talker who would simply put, ‘love to be able to speak on behalf of the community’.
One memorable question of the night pertained to what the candidate’s stance would be on a LGQTB pride parade. Mr. Thiessen said that although he is from a conservative background, he always goes with what the community wants. Ms. Wilson concurred with his answer, that it would be a consensual effort between the entire council. Another mentionable question was directed at Mr. Thiessen about justification of spending on council chamber renovations, specifically the chairs that apparently cost upwards of $1000 each. His humorous reaction expressed real concerns for the unprofessional look and use of the old chairs, having to pump them up every half hour and how that might look to newcomers. He noted that he himself didn’t know how much the new chairs actually cost for ‘he just oversees a budget’. He explained however that the chamber renovation was of upmost importance for even the curtains were ‘the same curtains him and his wife had when they got married 41 years ago’.
When Ms. Wilson was asked about what she would change on the current council, she said she believes they work hard already and that she would love to work with them. She said she doesn’t know what all could be changed until she is there but that she would like that chance.
This year is the first year that candidacy rein increases from a three-year term to four-year term. All residents 18 and up are encouraged to vote on Nov. 15 with polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the District of Vanderhoof and Cluculz Lake Firehall.