ELECTION 2014: Race for mayor and council seats is on in Lake Country

Mayor Baker being opposed, two incumbents drop out and one councillor in by acclamation as Lake Country election off and running

There will be at least two new faces around the Lake Country council table after this November’s civic election, while mayor James Baker is being challenged for his seat at the head of the table.

Veteran councillor Barbara Leamont along with first term representative Jamie McEwan have both decided against running for a seat on council, opening the door to several newcomers looking for a seat.

With Leamont bowing out as the area’s Carr’s Landing representative, Canada Revenue Agency employee Matt Vader has won a seat on council by acclamation.

In the race for mayor, James Baker is looking to continue a long run in local government and has put his name forward for a fourth term. He is being challenged for the second straight election by realtor Jayson McCarthy.

“I still think I have contributions to make in local government,” said Baker, who began as Lake Country mayor in 2005. “We are starting to look at sustainable development and green development and we have the potential to keep growing here and keep creating jobs.”

In the last civic election, Baker defeated three opponents, including McCarthy.

With Leamont and McEwan moving on at least one-third of the six member council will be different come Nov. 16 and each incumbent councillor is being challenged in their respective wards.

As the only community that utilizes the ward election system in B.C., Lake Country residents will cast four votes on election day: One for mayor, one for the councillor position in the ward they live in and two for councillor-at-large.

In Winfield outspoken former administrator Randy Rose is challenging incumbent Rob Geier. Rose spent much of the past year attacking the current council’s fiscal policy.

“I was hoping to draw some other people out to run but I thought I better stand up and be counted for the issues I brought up,” said Rose, who was Lake Country’s administrator from 1995 to 2009. “I had a long career in local government and got to work with a lot of great political leaders over the years so I saw how really good councillors and mayors can operate and be effective.”

The largest race will be for the two councillor-at-large seats at council. With McEwan dropping out, incumbent councillor Penny Gambell is being challenged by four candidates.

Arlene Brenner, a member of Lake Country’s Age and Access committee as well as Richard Issler, who came into the spotlight earlier this year in the fight to save Aspen Grove Golf Course, have both stepped forward. Don Rae and Bill Scarrow are also looking for the position of councillor-at-large.

Incumbent coun. Lisa Cameron has stepped forward to represent the people of Okanagan Centre for a second term. She is being challenged by Blair Ireland, a vocal opponent of some of council’s decisions this past term.

In Oyama, incumbent Owen Dickie is looking for a second term and is up against relative newcomer Keli Westgate, who grew up in Vernon and moved to Oyama last year.

Meanwhile Oyama resident Deb Butler is putting her name forward for a second term as school board trustee in the area.

“There are some things we started in my first term that I am absolutely committed to seeing come to fruition,” she said. “I love the work. I think it’s exciting to be part of this great big thing that provides opportunities for all of our students.”

The civic election is Nov. 15.

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