Election 2018: The South Okanagan and Similkameen

JAMES MILLER
Special to OsoyoosToday


It’s true. You won’t know the players without a scorecard … and we’re not referring to baseball.

As voters prepare to head to the polls on Oct. 20, many of the elections in the South Okanagan range from foregone conclusion to intriguing.

The most hotly-contested race is in Penticton. When nominations officially closed Friday afternoon, there were six challengers for mayor, along with 26 for city council, plus seven for the school board.

Mayoral incumbent Andrew Jakubeit is expected to have his hands full with former chamber of commerce president Jason Cox and long-time city councillor John Vassilaki, the later who ran against Jakubeit in 2014. (The others on the ballot are James Blake, Jukka Laurio and Dominic Wheeler.)

Of the city council candidates, Campbell Watt, Max Picton and Judy Sentes are incumbents. Andre Martin and Tarik Sayeed are not seeking re-election and Helena Konanz stepped down and will run for the Conservatives in next year’s federal election.

“It’s always good to have a race,” former Penticton mayor, now Penticton’s MLA, Dan Ashton said in an interview.

“A race brings out the best in people. Acclamation is nice for the incumbent, but a race is always better because it provides choice and the voter gets to hear what each candidate is going to do, what they promise to do, and you can hold their feet to the fire,” Ashton said.

In Oliver, incumbent Mayor Ron Hovanes is being challenged by political newcomer Martin Johnansen. Three incumbents are being joined by three challengers for the Town’s four councillor seats.

Another intriguing race is in Keremeos where incumbent Manfred Bauer, who is also the vice-chair of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, will be challenged by Coun. Arlene Arlow for the mayor’s chair. The council is being elected by acclamation. Couns. Jeremy Evans, Sherry Philpott-Adhikary and Jason Wiebe are all back for another term. The fourth member will be Arden Holley, who was previously a member of council.

In Summerland, all seven members of the present municipal council are running again for office, but for various positions. Couns. Toni Boot and Janet Peake are running head-to-head for mayor. The present mayor, Peter Waterman, is one of four seeking two spots on the school board. Richard Barkwill, Erin Carlson, Doug Holmes and Erin Trainer are all running for council again, against five others. Marty Van Alpen, defeated in 2014, hopes to win back a spot on council.

In Princeton, a town of 3,000, there are four mayoral candidates – incumbent Frank Armitage, former town councillor Spencer Coyne and political newcomers Jim Nainon and Leona Guerster. As well, there are 16 candidates running four council, which includes all four incumbents.

Armitage believes one of the reasons for the intense interest was a 3-2 decision by council to prohibit motorized vehicles on the Kettle Valley rail trail within town boundaries.

“It speaks well for democracy,” Armitage said, Sunday, about the 20 candidates seeking office. “It’s a process where people who believe they have the skills and abilities to contribute to council have the opportunity to run for political office.”

Several of the areas within the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen will have their directors elected by acclamation.

The hottest race will be Area F (West Bench) where six challengers will attempt to replace retiring Michael Brydon on the board. Kim Evans, Riley Gettens, Rick Hatch, Ashley Jestin, Leah Schulting and Michael Stokker are all seeking the position.

The new Area D, which previously included Apex, Kaleden and Okanagan Falls, will have a three-way race between Ron Obirek, Rodney Penway and Bill Schwarz. Meanwhile, Sabrina Monteith and Gary Vollet will challenge in the new Area I.

Area C (rural Oliver) will have a two-man race between Rick Knodel and Randy Toor. Area E (Naramata) will see incumbent Karla Kozakevich, presently the board’s chair, challenged by Tim Hodgkinson, who ran unsuccessfully for Penticton City Council in 2014.

Winning by acclamation will be Mark Pendergraft (Area A), George Bush (Area B) and Bob Coyne (Area H).

With the Okanagan Skaha School Board, as of Thursday afternoon it appeared the four Penticton trustees would win by acclamation. However, three others stepped forward on Friday and seven are seeking four spots on the board.

Incumbents Shelley Clarke and Barb Sheppard are being challenged by print journalist Dan Walton, long-time Vernon trustee Teresa Hebert, Parent Advisory Council volunteers Derek Hurst and Tracy Van Raes, and realtor James Palanio, president of the B.C. Real Estate Association.

There will also be a race for rural trustee (Kaleden, Naramata, West Bench) for the first time since 2008. Incumbent Ginny Manning will run against Kathy Pierre.


James Miller is editor of the Kelowna Courier.

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