There were no shoe-ins for the chair position as the board of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District met for the first time since the municipal election in November.
It took two rounds of voting to elect Area E Rural Sicamous-Malakwa director Rhona Martin as chair and two votes and a coin toss to put Electoral Area C South Shuswap director Paul Demenok in the vice chair seat.
In the first call for nominations issued by CSRD chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton, Area D Falkland/Salmon Valley/Deep Creek director Rene Talbot nominated Demenok.
Area B Rural Revelstoke director Loni Parker then nominated Martin.
Sicamous’ newly minted Mayor Terry Rysz nominated Parker, who thanked him but turned the nomination down.
Demenok and Martin were given the opportunity to plead their case with the board.
Thanking Talbot for the nomination, Demenok called the opportunity a privilege and ensured he would work very hard.
He pointed out he is a good facilitator and would run effective meetings that were “tough on issues but soft on the people involved.”
Demenok outlined his extensive business experience and his current position as chair of the Shuswap Watershed Council.
Martin thanked Parker for her nomination and pointed out she had previously filled the chair position for six years and would appreciate the opportunity to return to the head of the table.
Martin outlined the experience she has since garnered as president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and as a representative to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and as a board member of the Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition.
“I tend to be a team builder and would appreciate your support,” she concluded.
The first round of voting resulted in a tie, with Martin picking up the win in the second round.
Accepting Rysz’s nomination for vice-chair, Parker noted she has been a CSRD director for 21 years and has garnered a wealth of experience in the position and as vice-chair, a position she held previously.
Parker pointed to her work with the Columbia Basin Trust and a community housing society.
“I am committed to the communities in our area and enjoy working with people in various jurisdictions,” she said.
Nominated vice-chair by Talbot, Demenok quipped, “Here we go again,” then advised directors, “I appreciate the nomination, I am honoured… I think I’d do a great job.”
So did half of the directors, who voted for him in the first round of voting, which ended in a tie – as did the second round.
As dictated in the CSRD Procedural Bylaw, Hamilton flipped a coin, giving Parker the opportunity to call heads or tails.
Parker chose tails, the coin landed head-side-up and Demenok became the new vice- chair.
“There’s going to be some interesting discussions around this table – all of us will have projects we want to bring online,” said Martin, noting each one would be subject to the budget process. “I want to says thanks to staff. The public doesn’t get to see their work behind the scene, on the public’s behalf and also the board’s. I am grateful they’re always professional in dealing with the public.”
After calling for a round of applause for staff, Martin gave each director an opportunity to offer a few words of their own.
Talbot said he was glad to be back for another term and looking forward to moving ahead with an agricultural strategy and a management plan for Gardom Lake.
Re-elected to Salmon Arm council and former alternate to the CSRD board, Chad Eliason said he will work hard and do his best.
“Please ask questions,” interjected Martin. “There is really a difference between municipal councils and regional districts.”
Rysz noted he had also had the opportunity to attend CSRD board meetings as an alternate and has high hopes for the new board.
“I believe it’s all about building relationships,” he said. “The relationship between CSRD and Sicamous Council is important to the council and the people.”
Also looking forward to another term, Area F North Shuswap director Larry Morgan said three (previous) years weren’t enough to get things moving.
“I am happy to be back and look forward to working with all of you,” said Salmon Arm Mayor Nancy Cooper.
“I guess we’re all happy to be back,” said Parker to laughter, after hearing similar comments from other directors.
Parker pointed out the four-year term will go quickly, but will give directors time to move their agendas forward.
“It’s good to see new faces and old-timers; it’s like riding a bicycle again,” she said looking at Revelstoke Mayor Mark McKee who was recently re-elected mayor of Revelstoke. “I appreciate staff over the last years – the hard work they put out for us and on our behalf.”
“I was not feeling old until I got here, in fact I was feeling pretty good,” McKee joked. “I sat here for six years as mayor of Revelstoke. I was happy with a three-year term – after all I am an old man. We’re going to have fun, we’re gonna get lots done.”
Demenok noted he is looking forward to making progress on some projects and said he believes the new regional district board is comprised of “a good blend of people.”
New to the table is Caleb Moss, a director with the Golden council.
Also new is the representative from Electoral Area A Rural Golden Karen Cathcart, who was unable to attend the meeting.