KAMLOOPS - For Nancy Bepple, politics isn’t about policy or deals, it’s about the people she’s meeting everyday.
“No matter what you’re doing, you’re dealing with people and you have to start with that when you’re in politics. More than anything it’s about building relationships,” she says.
For the last few months the NDP candidate for the Kamloops-South Thompson riding and former city councillor has been building those connections, though with her roots in the community she’s actually been doing it for decades.
“That’s how you get elected,” she says. “If I went into any of the other coffee shops I’d know someone too. It’s just part of being out in the community and having grown up here.”
She points over her shoulder.
“Some people I’ve known, like this woman here, I’ve known her since 1971, that’s how it goes.”
And that’s how she got involved in political life, connecting with people and wanting to have an impact on their lives, from seniors to students; she got involved in civic politics in 2008 after returning to Kamloops from Salmon Arm.
“I had been in Salmon Arm previously and had a friend who was on council there; from her I saw things that could be changed and made better,” she says. “And I did make a difference.”
This is her second try at returning to politics after stepping down from city council in 2014 for health reasons. She ran for council again, later that year, but wasn’t elected. She looks back with pride at some of the small things she did on council.
“I made sure that we got automated doors on all the public buildings,” she says. “Before that you couldn’t go to the Sandman Centre, and I know because I went there one day, and I’d broken both my arms and I couldn’t get in because there were no automated doors.”
While Bepple is likely best known in Kamloops for her time in local politics, it’s not unlikely you've seen her with her banjo. An avid picker, she’s played in a band, solo, in seniors homes, at the farmers market and elsewhere. Most recently she played a show in Barnhartvale, and was toying with the idea of using her musical skills in her campaign.
“In the summer time it’s nice to just play out on the deck for an afternoon,” she says. “Last summer I went to a one week banjo camp so I played 12 hours a day, 15 hours a day.”
Before joining the Thompson Rivers University faculty in 2001, where she now works as a co-op coordinator, Bepple spent time outside of Kamloops working in computer programming after getting her masters in atmospheric science. She ended up joining the team designing air traffic control systems.
Now back in Kamloops she spends her time like many do, outdoors or at the farmers market.
“That’s probably what (Green Party rival and Kamloops city councillor) Donovan (Cavers) said, too," she laughs.
Family plays a big part, too.
“As my parents are getting older, I’m trying to make sure to make time for them, because I know they’re sort of in that time period of the window at the end,” she says.
Looking at politics today, she’s concerned about the disillusionment young people have with the system.
“At this point in time there’s a lot of cynicism, not with everybody, but with some people, about politics,” she says. “I don’t know if you want to call it the political process because there are so many things that are political.”
“We owe it to young people to make them understand what they do makes a difference and that they can make an impact.”
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