Creston Mayor Ron Toyota will be working with three incumbents and three new councillors on a Town Council that will be overseeing construction of a new fire hall, voters decided in Saturday’s municipal election and referendum.
The referendum to borrow for new fire hall won handily, by a margin of 1298 to 874, after about 60 percent of voters defeated another borrowing proposal previously.
Toyota is returned for a fourth term, but by his narrowest margin. He captured 972 votes, according to Stacey Hadley, Chief Elections Officer. He defeated former Town of Creston manager Bill Hutchinson, who had 907 votes. Newcomer Mary Jayne Blackmore finished a distant third with 355 votes.
Toyota bucked a change trend in the Kootenays that saw several incumbent mayors defeated.
Active volunteer Arnold De Boon will be serving his first term on Town Council. He topped the voting, tallying 1267 votes. Ellen Tzakis, a vocal anti-referendum candidate, finished second with 1204 votes. Three incumbent Town Councillors have also been re-elected. Jen Comer (1191), Jim Elford (1190) and Karen Unruh (1120) have been returned for another four-year term. All were unequivocal in their support of the fire hall borrowing referendum, as were Toyota and De Boon. The six-person Town Council will be rounded out by businessman Jim Karountzos, who served as a Town Councillor more than a decade ago. He picked up 987 votes, and also opposed the borrowing referendum
Creston’s longest-serving Councillor, Joanna Wilson, will not be returning for a fifth term. She finished eight votes behind Karountzos for the sixth council seat.
“I am disappointed, but also honoured to have served the people for the last 13 years,” she said on Monday. “I would like to thank the people of Creston for their support during my time as a Town Councillor and School Trustee, and I wish the new Town Council success. I look forward to attending the grand opening of a new fire hall.”
Finishing behind Wilson were Karen Goforth (900), Trish Drinkle (881), Debbie Cherkas (786) and Dallas Magrum (609).
“I look forward to working with this Council so that we can keep up the momentum of change that we have accomplished in the last 10 years,” Toyota said on Saturday night. “I am disappointed, of course, to lose Councillor Joanna Wilson, who has been part of the three very positive terms in which I have been honoured to be mayor.”
Voters were asked to consider borrowing to replace the old fire hall, responding to the following proposal: “Town Council proposes to adopt “Protective Services Building Loan Authorization Bylaw 1872, 2018″, which will authorize the Town of Creston to borrow four million, five hundred thousand dollars ($4,500,000), repayable over a period of not more than thirty (30) years, for the development and construction of a new Fire Hall, for which the Town’s share will represent an annual property tax levy of approximately $22.60 per $100,000 of the assessed value of residential property within the Town’s boundaries.”
Toyota credited the work of local citizens on an Advisory Select Committee for helping to turn around the results of a previous referendum and said the message was clearer and simpler this time. Proposed borrowing was also lowered by a Town Council decision to spend $1 million from reserves.
Myrna Johnson, who chaired Citizens for an Affordable Fire Hall and Creston Citizens for Change, called for a reconciliation between opposing sides after the ballots were counted.
“The level of enthusiasm for this issue has shown we have a community that really cares about our firefighters and one another. Let’s all pull together now, and get an affordable fire hall built!” she said.
“Congratulations to all the candidates who had successful bids tonight. The majority has put the future of our town in your hands, and we have confidence in your ability to carry out their wishes.”
Just short of 50 percent of the estimated eligible voter total of 4,563 cast ballots in town.
In the race for RDCK directors’ positions, incumbent Tanya Wall turned back a strong challenge from Keith Goforth by a 536-421 margin and will once again represent Area B.
Adam Casemore prevailed over two challengers to replace Larry Binks in Area C. Casemore won with 188 votes, defeating Tony Mulder (118) and Elvin Rempel (95).
Area A Director Garry Jackman was acclaimed to another term.
Only 3624 votes were cast from an estimated eligible voter total of 24,155 in RDCK elections for 11 rural director positions.
Trustee Cody Beebe (with 756 votes) was returned for a second term on the Board of School Trustees for the Kootenay Lake school district, and newcomer Al Gribbin (699) finished second in voting to earn the second Creston South Rural seat. Incumbent Rebecca Huscroft finished third with 599 votes.
The Creston spot on the Board of Trustees was won by acclamation by Becky Coons.
This will be Coons’ first term.
In the original online story about Saturday’s referendum and election, Keith Goforth was mistakenly referred to as a previously unsuccessful candidate for mayor. I apologize for the error.
In last week’s article about the candidates’ forum, a response by Debbie Cherkas to one of the questions was omitted. I apologize.
Lorne Eckersley | Publisher of the Creston Valley Advance