ELECTION 2014: Meet the candidates for Revelstoke council

City of Revelstoke: The 12 candidates for council introduce themselves and explain why they are running.

As part of our ongoing election coverage, the Times Review has posed five questions to the candidates for mayor and council. If you have a question you’d like to ask the candidates, please e-mail it to editor@revelstoketimesreview.com for consideration.

Our first question is:

Please introduce yourself and explain what you do in Revelstoke. Why are you running for office? What for you is the biggest issue facing Revelstoke?

Steve Bender

I am a retired broadcaster, station manager (“The Big R”), forestry museum manager, past president of Revelstoke Rotary, and a past local representative for the BC Chamber of Commerce.

I am running for my third term as councillor to continue to work further for all the positive things this city has accomplished since its inevitable swing into a tourism economy such as expanded sewer and water system, distribution of the proceeds from the hotel tax monies, economic development (Revelstoke has achieved the greatest number of business licenses ever but more on that later), continued building of city reserves and debt reduction, the struggle with the huge issue of deteriorating infrastructure in the continuing onslaught of provincial and federal governments downloading of expenses on municipalities, and continuing work for the streamlining of city hall procedures and renovations.

Continuing to develop all of the above basics is the best way to attract more new business and well planned development to Revelstoke.

A recent source of pride is Revelstoke being named by the province as one of the top 13 best cities in which to do business. If this sounds a little pie in the sky, sorry, but I refuse to get mired in the negativities that so often accompany an election. My effort will be to remain positive.

Connie Brothers

I am running for Revelstoke city council in the November 2014 election. My husband and I came to Revelstoke to enjoy the mountain lifestyle. I have worked in my legal practice since then and provided advice and counsel to many families, local businesses and organizations. I have been an active board member of Community Connections and the Chamber of Commerce.

I have a deep passion for Revelstoke and have been actively involved in the community for many years. I believe that with my experience I can provide leadership and a strong new voice to Council with new and creative solutions.

The most important issue for Revelstoke is sustainable economic development while maintaining the unique culture and character of Revelstoke. This goes hand in hand with fiscal responsibility and having streamlined procedures at city hall so that we can be viewed as “open for business.” I look forward to expanding on these issues and others as the campaign progresses.

George Buhler

I came to Revelstoke in the fall of 1958 looking for a job. I found work in the logging and construction industry. Some of the jobs were with Columbia Cellulose, Caseco Consultants at Mica Creek, D&A logging and various highway jobs as an operating engineer.

I married a local girl, Eunice Buday, and we have had two boys, John and Rod, four grandchildren and one great grandchild. After 41 years of marriage Eunice passed away.

I have since remarried to Bjorg Bergman.

I started a business with my brother in the 1970s and we were involved in housing development, basements, septic, water, and whatever else that was required.

When that slowed down we started to look around the province. We completed many sewer and water projects, subdivisions, fish hatcheries, and powerlines for many different cities, federal and provincial governments, and BC Hydro.

In 1986 we went our different ways and I bid on many different projects in various parts of B.C. including Revelstoke. I am now supposed to be retired, but I keep active.

I am running for councillor in hopes that Revelstoke can be a place that is economically affordable for residents and businesses. The biggest issue is to get Revelstoke back on track, by cutting the unnecessary spending, making every dollar accountable, and improving the way the city does business.

Scott Duke

My name is Scott Duke. For work I run Stoke FM and Revelstoke Property Services. For community service I sat on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, am a Rotary member, Economic Development Commission member and Focus Revelstoke member. For leisure I ski, snowboard, sled, hike, dirt bike, play squash, curl, garden, raise chickens, mountain bike, build and think. All wonderful activities right at our doorstep in Revelstoke.

Why Run?

At Stoke FM I work directly with 150 of our local business owners and 30 non profit groups. They all crave better customer service and support at a city level. At my property services job I see even more struggle with a lack of affordable housing and a challenging environment for builders. Lastly, I struggle through every budget cycle trying to understand why no one (except Tony) truly attempts to find efficiencies and savings. I am running for office as I see the above opportunities for improvement along with many others.  I am happy to pull up my socks and put out my neck to solve these problems.

Biggest Issue?

Our leadership. Every trial we face can be overcome with leadership that is wise enough to listen to our people and strong enough to rise to the challenge.

Trevor English

Hi, my name’s Trevor English. I’m a husband and father of two. I’m the general manager at the Revelstoke Red Apple. I was born in Revelstoke in 1975 and was able to make my dream of returning come true in 2011.

The reason I am seeking election to council is because I believe that I can be a part of the team who can and will make Revelstoke the best that it can possibly be. My family and I have never been happier than we have been in the last four years living in this wonderful community and I feel like I am in a position to give back to the citizens of Revelstoke. As a business person in Revelstoke, I want to bring my solid business acumen and managerial skills to city council and make a positive impact on the city over the next council term.

I think the biggest issue facing the next council is how we need to move our town forward into the next decade. We need a reality check — how do we position Revelstoke to best succeed as we continue to make our lives in this wonderful city?

Chuck Ferguson

My name is Chuck Ferguson, I am 63 years old. I came to look at Revelstoke on Feb. 4, 2008, to scout out some spots for a restaurant. I really fell in love with Revelstoke because I felt it had lots of potential. I moved to Revelstoke in May of 2008 to help my son John Ferguson, and Joel Asher build the Village Idiot Bar and Grill.

Since then the boys have got into a couple more establishments (The Big Eddy Pub and Chubby Funsters) and I have been helping them and doing a little bit of property management and maintenance. I have been involved in the community in the past as president of the Revelstoke Rotary Club in 2010 and have been on the Senior Citizens Housing Board at Begbie Manor for three years.

Since I arrived I have seen businesses come and go. Now is the time for Revelstoke. The economy is starting to turn around and we need to simplify government at the grass roots level and pursue new business to come here. To do that we need to stabilize taxes, which leads to less spending.

It’s great to have all the best of everything for the city, but if you don’t have a tax base to support it, you will go broke.

I believe that we need a level of common sense that has been lacking for a while causing this incredible unsustainable debt of $19.1 million dollars and budget increases that are not realistic.

I have always believed that it is better to step up and do something than to complain about it. Strong progressive city council is what we need in Revelstoke.

Chris Johnston

I am a lawyer and also a partner with my wife Gwen in a small retail business. I am also a city councilor and have been since being first elected in 2002. Beyond my work life, I spend as much time as I can with my wife and two young children (and dogs) enjoying all that Revelstoke has to offer: parks, activities, music, places to walk, the downtown and just the city and its surroundings as a whole.

I am running for office because Revelstoke is a pretty great place to live and I think I can provide some input on council to make sure we keep what we have but continue to grow and make things even better. I bring a fairly broad and balanced perspective to council. I also enjoy the job, not that it is not sometimes a bit frustrating and wearing.

For me the challenge for council is to find the balance between the services and service levels that residents and visitors expect and deserve and our ability to pay, which is reflected in tax rates. It is also critical that those services, be it flowers in planters or sewers under the street are delivered as efficiently as possible. Most other specific issues, be it the golf course or Big Eddy water come down to making decisions on that balance.

Linda Nixon

I am Linda Jean Nixon, a retired nurse, married to a retiring businessman. We have lived in Revelstoke for 30 years and raised our family here.

As an incumbent councillor, I am coming forward to ask the community for their vote to continue to sit at the council table and do the research, reading and ask the questions of staff who serve the citizens.

City hall is making changes to better serve customers; continuous quality improvement in processes at all levels are occurring. The future is guided by the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan — a community plan by the citizens. I do not believe in planning that does not have followup action. I want to be a continuing voice for all citizens. I do not shoot messengers. I listen, research and ask questions.

The big items in this transition period are water protection issues for neighbourhoods. The business community is interested in moving an economic plan forward — I have floated idea balloons for increasing population and livable wage jobs. The business community, working through their Chamber of Commerce and with city council, can make development attractive within the global competitive market context. This does not mean having to shift the tax burden unfairly onto the residential section of the pie.

I have been pleased to be part of the new Youth Advisory Committee and the new Poverty Reduction Strategy subcommittee. I learned an incredible amount during my term as councillor. I worked with countless volunteers who make Revelstoke a resilient sustainable community. I hope to continue serving the citizens of this mountain town.

Aaron Orlando

Hi, I’m Aaron Orlando. As a Revelstoke Times Review reader, you know me best as the former editor of this newspaper, where I immersed myself in Revelstoke news from 2008 until this spring. I covered all kinds of community news and all levels of government. I covered the issues facing the City of Revelstoke in depth. Vacations excepted, I attended almost every council meeting for six years, hundreds of committee meetings, and read many thousands of pages of city reports and business. As a journalist, I communicated those issues to the community.

I hold a BA from UBC and Master of Journalism degree and continue to work as a journalist.

Why am I running for office? My partner Robyn and I are from B.C. and moved to Revelstoke to enjoy the amazing outdoor lifestyle. We are homeowners here and have put down roots. I am running because I want to give back. I sense change this election and I want to bring my unique combination of civic affairs experience and new ideas to the new team on council.

I have no one issue. I am focused on communication (learn about my platform at www.facebook.com/Aaron.Orlando.Revelstoke.Council, or call 250-814-8710). I have real economic revival ideas. We need to deal with our huge debt issue. I want to find efficiency, especially through clear policy direction. I share many of the same goals as other new candidates, and I feel my knowledge of the municipal legal framework, the people, the system, the issues and the budget will help us achieve those goals.

Karen Powers

Hi, I’m Karen Powers and I have lived in Revelstoke for 53 years. My father Karl Beattie was with the logging industry and moved here in 1961 with his wife Yvonne and six small children. Once here, that was the end of moving and they settled down, having three more children born here in Revelstoke. I married Rick Powers, who is also a long time Revelstokian, and have two children Stacey and Mitchell.  Both my children and most of my sisters and brothers live right here.

I worked at CPR for 17 years calling crews and was the union representative during the re-organization of the calling bureau.

After, I was head house keeper at Peaks Lodge were I learned how important snowmobilers are. I worked at Selkirk specialty woods and now own Conversations Coffee House.

I decided to run for council because I believe it is time for a change. I care deeply for my home town and am very concerned with the direction we are heading. I am alarmed and fear the population drop Revelstoke has undergone. The lack of affordable jobs, and that our children have to leave in order to support their families concerns me. The lack of low-income housing is right up there.

Gary Starling

I have been in Revelstoke since 1980. I worked for the railway as an engineer until 2013 when I retired.

I ran for council originally on a platform of fiscal restraint. I had many concerns about how much debt we had accumulated as a community. I felt I could bring a more common sense approach to council. I believe I have done this, however there is still much more work to do on budgeting issues.

Possibly the biggest issue facing Revelstoke in the near future is the Big Eddy Waterworks. It is becoming very apparent that the system is failing on many levels. There will be difficult questions around this. Will the city take it over? Who will pay? Currently the city staff are working diligently to not only ensure that the residents and businesses in the Big Eddy have potable water, but also looking to the future to see what can be done to ensure a sustainable supply.

This is the core business of running a city: water, sewer, and roads. For that reason, this is of utmost importance.

Gary Sulz

My name is Gary Sulz. I am 56 years of age and have been a resident of Revelstoke for the past 24 years. I am married to Chrissie Onischuk, a local girl, and we have three grown sons and five wonderful grandchildren. I have worked in funeral services for 35 years, the last 30 here in Revelstoke. I commuted from Salmon Arm for six years before buying the building with my partners and moving here in 1990. Revelstoke is our home and we plan to stay here when we retire.

I am running for a position on city council because of my different and varied personal experiences and because of this I feel I have much to offer and I wish to participate in the municipal political process. I have always tried to live my life by what Ghandi quoted so many years ago: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

So for me, getting involved and assisting the community to grow and move forward is a natural progression. The community is faced with many issues: higher taxes, attracting industry, strategic planning, marketing and enhancing tourism, upgrading the Trans-Canada Highway. All of these and many other issues will need attention as we move forward.


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