Voters shake things up around the council table

One old City councillor is gone, three new ones are in and one has been recycled.

And in a first for Kamloops, council has more women than men. Five councillors are female, while there are four men - three councillors and the mayor.

Former Kamloops school board chairman and City council newbie Ken Christian led the pack with 10,880 votes.

Behind him were incumbents Marg Spina (7,857), Tina Lange (7,498) and Pat Wallace (7,461).

A former councillor who wasn't re-elected in 2008 but who was this time around, Arjun Singh got 7,330 votes, followed by incumbent Nancy Bepple (7,257).

Two more newcomers brought up the back: Donovan Cavers (7,118) and Nelly Dever (6,852).

Lost in all the voting was four-term councillor John DeCicco, who ranked 11th with 6,071 votes.

"It's a bit of a relief off my shoulders. Of course it's a disappointment, I had a few things I wanted to see done," he said.

"But gracious in winning, gracious in losing. I stood up for what I believed."

DeCicco thought the wave of feeling around the provincial HST rejection might have carried over to the municipal election. And the controversy around the downtown parkade, with its subsequent rejection through an alternative approval process, might have been part of that.

"I stood for what I believed. They punished me over my colleagues. Other people did the same things I did," he said.

Christian didn't know what contributed to his spot at the top of the polls, but suspected it might have had to do with his years spent on the school board.

His campaign, which included a lot of door knocking, might have also been a factor, he said.

He said he has a lot to learn and is only one of nine votes at the council table. But he also wants to see some changes.

"We need transparency in terms of what we're doing," he said.

"We'll make evidence-based decisions. We shouldn't jump to conclusions about a number of things."

Christian said he wants to regain the trust of taxpayers.

Spina credited her team, particularly her campaign manager husband, for her electoral success in getting re-elected for a second term.

"You never know what support you have," she said.

A much-relieved Lange arrived at city hall once the counting was done and gave big hugs to her fellow councillors.

"It was a rough day," she said.

She tried to take her mind off the election by doing some drywall work. But Lange was obviously happy it was all over.

Singh also said he and his team did a lot of door knocking. He also had public endorsements from prominent people in the city that he felt might have helped.

"We just focussed. I've learned a lot over the last couple of years. The campaign was a new and improved Arjun Singh. We worked really hard," he said.

His campaign slogan of "smart thinking, community linking" is also his mandate and goal for this term, he said.

"I'm going to try to stick with that - work collaboratively with people."

Bepple placed sixth this election, the exact same finish she had in 2008 when she got in for the first time.

"There were a lot of really good candidates," she said.

She wants to work on providing adequate services and facilities for the disabled, seniors, youth and children.

With such a diverse council, she said it would be good to map out a set of priorities for the next three years.

"We have to sit down and come up with some common goals to work toward," she said.

She was surprised at how close the mayor's race was, especially since Dudy announced his candidacy on the last day of nominations.

"I would have expected it wouldn't have been such a tight race. But he did impress a lot of people with who he was as a person. He was only in the race for six weeks," she said.

Cavers said his seventh-place showing was where he expected to be.

He said he'll bring new blood, and fresh ideas to council, and one of his goals would be to reduce transit fares back to a toonie.

Dever said her eighth-place spot had her on tenterhooks until the results were all in.
"It was a long night," she said.

She campaigned on cleaning up the entrance corridors into the city and, once she's had a chance to settle into the job, she plans on getting to work on that, she said.

Dever said she was glad to see one incumbent re-elected because she wants to tap into her knowledge.

"I'm extremely pleased to see that Pat Wallace was in. I wanted at least one term to work with Pat. She's so knowledgeable," she said.

With that, Dever returned to the group still celebrating at the room re-elected Mayor Peter Milobar rented for the night.

"I'm so tired and worn out and just a lot of nerves. Otherwise, I'd be dancing like the rest of my campaign team is doing."

© Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News