Candidates for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen’s Area F director presented their platforms and answered questions at an all-candidates forum at West Bench Elementary School on Oct. 11.
Around 100 people attended the meeting, which included speeches from the candidates and questions from floor.
Four candidates are vying for the director’s role in the Oct. 20 election. The candidates are Riley Gettens, Rick Hatch, Ashley Jestin and Leah Schulting.
The present Area F director, Michael Brydon, has served the area since 2008 but is not seeking re-election.
Jestin was unable to attend the meeting as she had a prior medical appointment.
Gettens, who moved to the West Bench area in 2007, has worked with community organizations, including efforts to keep West Bench Elementary School open in 2015.
While the school board was considering school closures, Gettens and others worked to keep the school open.
She promised to pursue other issues affecting the community with the same level of determination.
“We had a lot to lose by not keeping the school in the community,” she said. “I won’t give up when I know there’s a slim sliver of a chance. I don’t give up on issues that matter to the community.”
Rick Hatch, a West Bench resident since 2014, said decisions affecting the region will have far-reaching effects.
“What will our decisions mean seven generations from now?” he asked.
Leah Schulting, the executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association — South Okanagan Similkameen Branch, promised to work on behalf of the region.
“I’m a strong leader who will work hard for all residents of Area F,” she said.
Area F is a large region which covers West Bench, Faulder, Meadow Valley, North Beach and Greata Ranch.
Some in the audience asked how the candidates would meet the needs of communities such as Faulder and Meadow Valley.
Sandy Berry, who lives in Faulder, said many of the residents of that community feel they have been ignored.
Hatch said he would like to hear from Faulder residents, and promised to be accessible by phone and by email.
Gettens said she would work to have face-to-face meetings with the residents.
Schulting suggested holding meetings twice a year at Camp Boyle, in order to allow residents to meet with their representative and to raise any concerns they may have.
Randy Enns, a Sage Mesa resident, said the needs of that area are also different from the needs in West Bench.
“What suits you may not suit us” he told the candidates.
Marjorie Murton, organizer of the all-candidates meeting, was pleased with the attendance and the questions raised during the evening.
“I think the questions were really good,” she said. “I hope to see a good voter turnout.”
The election will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voting will be held at West Bench Elementary School, with roving polling stations at Giant’s Head Elementary School in Summerland and the Red Wing Clubhouse.
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