On Nov. 12, over 100 Creston Valley residents attended a public forum for candidates running in the Nov. 19 civic elections. Organized by Tamara Fox, Joanne Ferry and Jesse Willicome (who acted as moderator), the forum was the only opportunity for voters to question the candidates running for town council, mayor and Regional District of Central Kootenay Area B director.
Of Creston’s 13 town council candidates, 10 — Justin Lysohirka, Ingrid Voigt, Malcolm Ferguson, Renee Kyle, Scott Veitch, Wes Graham, Rhonda Barter, Ed Vondracek, Joanna Wilson and Jerry Schmalz — attended, while Tanya Ducharme, Judy Gadicke and Louis Mihaly did not.
Both candidates for mayor, Ron Toyota and Joe Snopek, attended, although Toyota didn’t arrived until the fifth question was read.
Ed McNiven was the sole RDCK candidate at the forum; incumbent John Kettle did not attend.
The candidates fielded both pre-selected questions and impromptu questions from the audience.
How do you work with people you do not agree with? Can you speak to your experience of working with people or groups where there may be dissention, and your capacity to work with others?
Ron Toyota: “Leadership is about being able to listen [with an] open mind, and make sure answers and the questions and the queries are all listened to. … In the past three years, we witnessed a lot of good things coming from this council. It’s a council accomplishment, not just me. … It’s all about experience, and leadership is all about listening.”
Justin Lysohirka: “Teamwork is key, and I would say that there is no I in team, so we all have to work together and everyone will win.”
Ingrid Voigt: “As elected officials, leadership is about working with others, listening to them, also inspiring them and encouraging them to work together to come up with solutions.”
Malcolm Ferguson: He is currently on the board of Footlighters Theatre Society, the Community Arts Council of Creston and the Creston Refugee Committee. “There’s quite a number of people in those groups, and I think without exception, everyone gets along quite well together because everybody is a team player.” In the past, he has been with groups that required professional help to resolve conflicts. “If you’re a team player and get along with people, I think that would go quite well as far as preventing conflict.”
Renee Kyle: “I think conflict is where a lot of really great ideas come. What you have to be careful of is … when diplomacy stops, the war starts. You have to keep working at it and nurturing it in a diplomatic way. Then you can come up with a great group decision.”
Scott Veitch: “For me to be the president of the British Columbia Real Estate Association and deal with 12 member boards all across British Columbia and the Yukon and be responsible for 18,000 realtors as its president and chairperson on the board, I think I know how to work with different people, different needs.”
Wes Graham: In addition to town council, he has been on the 19-member board of the Union of BC Municipalities. “It’s a diverse group of people, but at the end of the day, it’s a common goal. It’s about listening to different perspectives, because sometimes that opens your eyes to the other side.”
Rhonda Barter: “You work in kindness and goodness, trying to work as much as possible in honesty. … There are always going to be people who don’t agree with you.”
Ed Vondracek: “It’s very important to be a team player. … You have to able to express your opinion. No matter how small or trivial, it’s important. … As a rule, if you ask a question in a group, odds are others wanted to ask the same question, but were afraid to.”
Joanna Wilson: “I love to see things accomplished by working together with others. It’s what I do.”
Joe Snopek: “I believe in working with the people for the people. … I believe I can work with anyone.”
Jerry Schmalz: “I think what is important is being there, being a listener, understanding the issues, making choices without causing any kind of a conflict between parties. The reason there is you’re a listener and a team player, and you report back to your team and you get results.”
Ed McNiven: He worked at the Super-Valu store with 35 employees. “We had to work together.” He later worked in home support with some occasionally difficult clients. “I may have even looked after some of your father sand mothers. And boy, you have to be able to think on your feet and outmanoeuvre what they’re trying to pull on you.”