By Lyonel Doherty
There was no clear winner at the end of last week’s all-candidates forum, however, there were some interesting comments made.
Incumbent Mayor Ron Hovanes was put on the spot when asked if he was planning to pursue any provincial election goals. If so, was he going to quit his council term half way through and leave Oliver hanging?
Hovanes took a never-say-never approach but added he was committed to serving Oliver as mayor. Although if elected, this would be his last term, he admitted. Will he seek to run as MLA? Time will tell.
Mayoral challenger Martin Johansen likely scored some points with his views on using surveillance cameras to keep an eye on criminals. You can probably bet that crime watchdog Michael Guthrie was smiling from ear to ear after hearing that. Gee, wonder who he’s going to vote for.
Johansen also questioned the 10-year tax exemption given to Coast Hotels, and the nine per cent tax increase to Oliver residents (in one fell swoop).
Too bad Joni Mitchell wasn’t there to sing “Big Yellow Taxi” in reference to the green space issue that was raised. Some people are still peeved about paving paradise (Centennial RV Park) and putting up a parking lot (for the new hotel).
But incumbent councillor Dave Mattes raised an interesting point about working behind the scenes to establish a new RV park in that area. What is he up to?
Everybody seemed to like Aimee Grice’s idea to create a “councillor chat” session for residents who want to communicate with council in a less formal way. Something similar was done before in Oliver – “Coffee with the Mayor” – but it didn’t last.
Of course, the national park issue came up during the forum, with Lionel Trudel asking the candidates if they favoured a referendum on the topic. About half of them raised their hands.
Area C candidate Randy Toor presented himself well, as did his astute challenger Rick Knodel. Toor provided some comic relief when he outlined his plan to enhance public communication – come to his winery for a glass of wine. Or did he say case?
The soft-spoken and very nice Parminder Sidhu got his point across as water councillor candidate, while incumbent Rick Machial was very convincing in his passion for local growers. His nephew and challenger David Machial was also impressive for his genuine conviction. He said if you want experience, vote for Rick and Andre Miller. But if you want another option, a successor, vote for him.
Council candidate Dermott Hutton did a good job answering the questions and finished with, “Don’t be a hermit, vote for Dermott.”
Incumbents Maureen Doerr, Petra Veintimilla and Larry Schwartzenberger have experience on their side and are truly devoted to the community.
So who do you vote for on Saturday?
You’ve got the power, so don’t waste it.