Like their older counterparts in the city at large, students at Salmon Arm Secondary voted in this year’s municipal election.
Also like their older counterparts, they voted in a markedly similar slate of candidates.
Teacher Graham Gomme’s Politics 11/12 class, through Student Vote BC or CIVIX, held a parallel election for students under the voting age at SAS.
Gomme explains that his students first prepared write-ups on the candidates based on information provided by the Salmon Arm Youth Council, as well as by attending the all-candidates meeting, reading information in the Observer, looking at the candidates’ websites and interviewing a few of them. The information was posted where interested students could read it.
SAS students voted on mayor and council, but not school trustees or the referendum on the Ross Street Underpass.
In the mayoralty race, the results matched the actual race with Alan Harrison topping the polls with 182 votes, Nancy Cooper coming in second with 112 and Jim Kimmerly third with 34 votes.
The votes for councillor differed slightly from the actual results.
Just as in the real election, councillor Tim Lavery topped the polls with 152 votes.
Kevin Babcock, however, who was not elected on Oct. 20, came in second in the student poll with 142 votes. The candidates were listed alphabetically and some students thought he might have garnered extra votes because of the ballot position.
Debbie Cannon, Kevin Flynn and Louise Wallace Richmond, who were all elected, came in third, fourth and fifth in the student poll with 114, 108 and 99 votes respectively.
The sixth spot was shared by Sylvia Lindgren and Jo McDermott, both with 95 votes. In the actual vote, Lindgren was elected.
Chad Eliason was the one councillor who wasn’t elected in the student poll but was in the real vote.
Gomme says his students did a great job handling the vote and he was pleased to start the term with an actual election, which piqued their interest.
“They dove right into it, baptism by fire,” he says, noting that now the students will have a real connection to this council when they shadow and monitor city politics.
Asked what issues they would like to see the new council address, the students voiced a variety of ideas.
Sarah Johnston said it would be helpful if the mayor and council would be encouraging to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Salmon Arm.
“In a small town there isn’t as much visible support as there is in cities. I think it’s important for people to know they’re supported wherever they are.”
Blanka Stepankova spoke about the needs of a new driver, particularly with regard to potholes and road maintenance.
“It would be easier and a better experience learning to drive if the roads were more well-maintained…They’re pretty bumpy.”
Luke Rivette said he’d like to see a system of snow removal where the snow doesn’t end up in people’s driveways.
And Emma Brennan is a proponent for the implementation of more city-wide composting.
Gomme says the politics course at SAS seems to be successful in generating student interest in politics.
He explains that a few students from last year’s youth council got together on a Skype call to watch the results on election night – something that likely wouldn’t have happened had they not taken the course.