It came down to 12 votes, but that’s all Larry Schwartzenberger needed to edge out Mo Basso for a council seat.
Schwartzenberger garnered 249 votes, compared with Basso’s 237 at the close of last Saturday’s by-election.
Rhonda Bruce finished third with 115 votes, followed by Bill Ross with 53, Joanne Bray with 38, John Micka with 32, Dan Robertson with 24, Jeff Ashe with 12, and Doug Pederson with seven.
Schwartzenberger said he was very honoured to win the by-election. “I am looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”
The new councillor said he was fortunate to have a number of supporters who worked very hard to help get him elected. But it was his individual efforts that secured the win.
He spoke with as many residents as possible about their thoughts and concerns, and knocked on doors every evening and weekend.
His platform consisted of encouraging both residential and commercial growth within town in order to expand the tax base.
“I want to help council to develop a focused effort to approach the 250 families that will move to the South Okanagan for the new correctional facility and convince them that Oliver is the place they should live.”
Schwartzenberger also expressed a desire to develop a youth advisory council to get local youth involved in civic government. This would be their avenue to relay their concerns to council, he pointed out.
During the campaign, Schwartzenberger learned that most people believe that some growth in population and business opportunities would be beneficial.
“Some expressed concern about the empty stores on Main Street, and the lack of a hotel was mentioned as well.”
Overall, many people think council is doing a reasonable job in keeping taxes in line, Schwartzenberger said.
As Oliver’s newest alderman, his immediate plan is to focus council’s efforts on enticing new correctional centre families to town, and
establish a youth advisory council.
Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes said it was heartening to see so many people run for one position. If it showed anything, it was the commitment from people willing to “stick their neck out” for the community, he noted.
Hovanes said he has known Schwartzenberger for a long time.
“I think he’ll be a great addition to council. I believe he truly cares about the community and is not afraid to get involved.”
Hovanes said he gets the impression that Schwartzenberger will make good, balanced decisions for the whole community.
Schwartzenberger is scheduled to be sworn in soon, and will attend his first council meeting on October 15.