After seven years away from the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, Bill Kershaw returns as director of Area O.
Kershaw eked out a victory on Saturday against former Barriere mayor Mike Fennel by only nine votes.
"I'm very pleased," he said. "I think there's a lot of responsibility and I'm willing to take it on. I'll meet with the people and see what they want in the rural area."
The byelection, which was required after the death of director Bonnie Cruzelle-Myram, appeared to pass under most residents' radars with only 245 of the 1,300 eligible voters casting ballots.
"I'm not pleased with (the turnout)," said Kershaw. "I think people should take a greater interest because that's about the only form of governance you have in the rural area other than your provincial and federal governments."
Kershaw will now wear two political hats as he retains his position as District of Barriere councillor while also representing the Lower North Thompson.
He said the situation creates advantages since TNRD directors can attend sessions that wouldn't be attended by district representatives, and both governing bodies can work on "joint ventures" such as tourism.
"Tourism is all in the region but it greatly affects all the municipalities."
The former mechanic has clear intentions for his two-year term. He intends to work toward improving the tourism industry in areas like East Barriere Lake and Adams Lake by pushing for better Internet and cellphone service.
He also wants to improve highway safety at a particularly precarious intersection.
"Highway 5 goes through the middle of Little Fort where Highway 24 takes off, that's right in the middle of town and there should be a turning lane there," he said. "It's creating quite the chaos in the middle of town because there's a busy little service station there."
Kershaw intends to start working toward his goals after being sworn in on Dec. 6.
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