DOI By-Election

Tonight’s, District of Invermere All Candidates By-Election Forum was well attended. The forum was hosted by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce and held at the Lion’s Hall. Most of the chairs were full with citizens over the age of fifty, in other words voters.

The candidates are vying for one councillor position. The general election was held in October, the Mayor and Councillors were acclaimed, so we had no forums and didn’t have to cast a ballot. After the election one of the newly acclaimed councillors stepped down before being sworn in, setting up this by-election.

Now four months later five candidates have thrown their hats in the ring. The first question at the forum was why didn’t they run in the general election. 

This is not a post about where each candidate stands, or to dissect the question or answers posed and answered, but to give a feeling of the room and how each candidate faired.

I know three of the five candidates. I was happy to get a chance the forum allowed, to get to know the two other candidates.

Grant Kelly is a semi-retired businessman. I have had dealings with him over the years. All of our relations have been good. He has also volunteered for many boards and positions. I once saw him take bids at a fundraiser to shave his hair to raise money for a disabled citizen.

His answers were unconventional, asserting decisions are often made by consensus instead of how we may feel personally about a subject. When asked about the DOI supporting the Historical Museum, there was almost an audible gasp by the grey headed audience when he suggested the Museum should expand their hours and spruce things up to attract more visitors. Kelly is a realist who spoke truthfully during his answers. 

Grey Bradatsch is a co-owner of a downtown art gallery. I dealt with him when I owned our print and newspaper businesses.

Bradatsch came across as decisive. He prefaced his answer to each question, ‘I am going to talk fast because I have a lot to say,’ and closed with, ‘if you like what you hear, tell your friends’. In between those two sayings wasn’t much other than him blowing his own horn. However, as previous elections have shown, there are many who like this style of politician.

Stephanie Stevens has lived her life in the valley. She has had many jobs. I know her best as a journalist for the now defunct newspaper, The Valley Echo, where she wrote passionately about many subjects, always taking the side of the underdog. A very fine writer.

If there was a winner, it was her, however that doesn’t mean much at these forums. Stevens spoke passionately throughout the forum, especially in her last two minutes, about having grown up, bringing her kids up and now grandkids in Invermere. She spoke about change she has seen. Unfortunately, if anything, being a long time local will not resonate and may even prove a detriment with the majority of residents who have come here within the past 10 years.

David Goldsmith, I did not know previous to this forum. He was measured in his response to the questions, citing fiscal responsibility and his history of doing so. He seemed nervous at first but gained steam throughout the forum. 

He talked about his connection to the area, but at the end I wondered if he actually lived in Invermere. He did sound like a decent and qualified man for Councillor and one that may bring experience to Council. He was well liked by the over 50 crowd.

Juanita Violini I did not know, and still don’t. All of her answers were rehearsed, written and scripted. When stumbling she would go back to her main talking points. She introduced herself as a writer. That’s difficult, because writing and conversing are two totally different things, you can be bad at one or the other and still communicate. She wasn’t in her comfort zone and relied on writing that was good, but seemed out of place at times.

Dee Conklin, past Mayor of Radium Hot Springs and Chamber President did a great job of moderating the forum, giving the candidates extra time to think while injecting humour into the event.

The Chamber and Candidates should be commended for making themselves available and putting on an informative event.