As she seeks re-election, Kerry Cook said it’s been an honour to serve the community as mayor and she is keen to continue.
“It’s been a tough six years, but I’m up for the challenge and excited about the future,” Cook told the Tribune.
Despite the economic downturn, there has been $84 million worth of investment in the community, 10 to 20 new homes being built a year, and $14.5 million in repaving during her two terms, she said.
Another highlight was the Truth and Reconciliation event in 2013 and last week’s provincial apology for the hanging of Tsilhqot’in chiefs 150 years ago.
“These events are powerful examples of what is possible when all sectors of the community can work together,” she said. “Building strong relationships with First Nations is more important now than ever.”
When Cook was elected in 2008, the community had no choice but to tackle its number one spot for crime severity, she recalled.
Council met with the RCMP and dedicated more funds for policing, and committed to helping develop a collaborative community approach, and it’s made a difference, Cook said, however, she did not hesitate to say much more work is necessary.
If re-elected she will establish a task force to focus on domestic and youth violence, she added.
When asked about the lowlights, Cook pointed to the fire protection agreement with the Cariboo Regional District and the fact it ended up in court.
“It should have never got to that point. I certainly would do everything in my power to ensure that never happens again.”
A strong healthy relationship with the CRD has to be a city priority, she said.
Cook also said the court case following the hiring and subsequent un-hiring of CAO Don DeGagne was a hard one to own.
“We had the court case in July. The lawyers met at the end of September and I believe it could be decided any time.”
Responding to public demands for more transparency, Cook said it’s something she has been advocating since being elected in 2008.
Cheque registries are published monthly, and the city has started an “Open Gov.” site which shares financial information.
“When I came into office in 2008, the previous council had borrowed more than $12 million dollars in long-term borrowing,” Cook recalled. “We’ve improved it, still have $15 million in longterm debt, which is 30 per cent of our borrowing capacity with $5 million in reserves.”
Looking to the next term, Cook said she wants to see downtown improvements, the Highway 97 upgrades, and while she will respect the voters’ wishes, she hopes the pool upgrades referendum will be endorsed.