DEVER LOSS A 'LOSS FOR COUNCIL'
KAMLOOPS - A look back at our civic election shows few surprises according to a local lawyer and former city councillor.
Only 22,672 people, or just over 33 per cent of eligible voters, actually voted in the 2014 civic election. Those votes saw two new faces elected, but they were familiar faces and a small changeover of one or two people is typical in any civic election according to John O’Fee.
“The election was unremarkable, every election has one or two new faces,” he says. “To my mind there wasn’t any great surprises.”
That being said O’Fee admits he expected Andy Philpot to make the cut but wasn’t overly surprised to see Denis Walsh, who chose to sit out a term after doing well in the previous election, and Dieter Dudy, who came very close to winning the mayoral seat in 2011, win a council seat.
Walsh and Dudy replace Nelly Dever, who came in the 10th spot, just 800 votes shy of being re-elected, and the empty seat left by Nancy Bepple, who resigned in March due to health reasons and then decided to run again just over six months later.
O’Fee says Bepple may have lost because of her involvement with the council pay increase while Dever was maybe too quiet about her accomplishments.
“I thought (Dever) was quietly competent, maybe she needed to be more noisily competent,” he says. “I think it’s a loss for council.”
The loss of two women around the table, bringing women into the minority after being in the majority during the 2011-2014 term, is more indicative of how well the men ran campaigns this election and not an issue of gender specifically.
“In local politics you’d like to think we’ve moved past that,” O’Fee notes. “Go back to Kenna Cartwright, we were electing women mayors in the early 90s. I don’t think gender plays into it. We’re looking for good community people. The strongest campaigns were male in this particular case.”
The election of Walsh and Dudy also brings the number of candidates openly against the proposed Ajax Mine to four, up from just Coun. Tina Lange and Coun. Donovan Cavers previously. Even with that increase O’Fee doesn’t believe the mine played a prominent role when it came to voting.
“If Ajax was a big thing (Ken) Christian and (Arjun) Singh would not have been one and two. (Pierre) Filisetti would’ve had more (votes),” he says, also noting Cavers went up while Lange moved down. “There was no strong message, pro or con. If the mine was why people were voting… we would’ve seen more changes.”
Walsh and Dudy being part of the Vision Kamloops alliance had little to do with them being elected either, according to O’Fee. He notes the other three members of the alliance — Brad Harrison, Jenny Green and Daphane Nelson — were all well back in the standings.
“There was no halo effect. I don’t think Walsh or Dudy dragged them up.”
O’Fee points out that change is good for organizations and new faces are always needed around the table.
“There is a best before date, but of course when we say that Pat (Wallace) makes a liar out of us,” O’Fee jokes. “But in the general sense, there is a shelf life for pretty much every councillor. Change is good for organizations.”
To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.