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FRENCH CONNECTION: Democracy wins again in the Cariboo

Local elections are the big news this week
Diana French pens a weekly column for the Williams Lake Tribune. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Local elections are the big news this week — and rightly so. It’s the local politicians who make our communities good places to live. Or not.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who ran. Without your caring and willingness to get involved we wouldn’t have a democracy.

Williams Lakers opted for some firsts on city council. Mayor-elect Surinderpal Rathor, who spent 21 years as councillor prior to 2014, is the first person of colour to occupy the mayor’s chair, and this is the first lakecity council to have a majority of women members — four out of six.

Surinder defeated Mayor Walt Cobb, councillor Jason Ryll and former mayor Kerry Cook.

Only two incumbent councillors kept their seats, Scott Nelson, 16 years experience, Sheila Boehm, four years. Ivan Bonnell, Craig Smith, Marnie Brenner and Jason were not returned. The newcomers are Joan Flaspohler, Jazmyn Lyons, Angie Delainey and Michael Moses.

Both outgoing Mayor Walt Cobb and councillor Ivan Bonnell served many years on council.

An MLA from 2001 - 2005, Walt was councillor from 1980-1990, mayor from 1990 -1996, then from 2014 to now. Ivan spent 25 years on council, one term as mayor. Thank you both, and Jason, Craig and Marnie for your service.

On school board, Michael Franklin, a teacher and principal in this district for 32 years, is Williams Lake’s trustee and the lone man on school board.

In neighbouring communities, former MLA Donna Barnett topped the polls in the councillor’s race in 100 Mile House. In Quesnel, two- term mayor Bob Simpson (another former MLA) was defeated by longtime councillor Ron Paull.

The incumbent Quesnel councillors were all returned.

Along with the congratulations, we wish the new councils well. Given today’s problems, worldwide and local, they don’t have an easy road ahead.

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