Petra Veintimilla

Petra Veintimilla

New to politics, Oliver councillor envisioned herself there

The only new Oliver council member elected was Petra Veintimilla, a 31-year-old business person.

Ron Hovanes is humbled by the fact he kept the mayor’s chair in Oliver by acclamation.

Hovanes said it’s a credit to the work done the last three years.

“I appreciate the fact that I’m going to be mayor for the next four years,” he said. “It’s been kind of a quiet election for me because I haven’t had to be out there campaigning everyday, which has been kind of nice. I look forward to the next four years.”

He’s also thrilled about his council, which includes incumbents Maureen Doerr, who received 837 votes, Larry Schwartzenberger, 758, and Jack Bennest 754. Incumbent David Mattes was not re-elected after receiving 721 votes. New to council is Petra Veintimilla, who got in with 899 votes, tops among all council members.

“Petra is young and energetic,” said Hovanes. “She worked very hard during the campaign. As much as we’re going to miss Dave Mattes, he was very much a part of our last council, a good part of our last council, I truly believe that we have a really strong council to move forward with.”

Veintimilla, 31, said going into the elections that she was optimistic about winning a seat, but was also realistic as she was up against four incumbents.

“I knew that I had to work hard,” said Veintimilla, who was speechless after finding out she topped the vote list. “I envisioned myself there. It never even occurred to me that I would come out on top that’s for sure. I figured it would be a fight to the end.”

Veintimilla, who grew up in Oliver and works at her family’s business, Alberto’s Decorating Centre, as a window covering specialist, said the support she received indicates that the people hearing what she had to say are optimistic about Oliver’s future and “can kind of see the diamond in the rough that we are.”

Voters also had a decision to make in a referendum on Frank Venables Theatre. They were in favour, 1,364-458 for the community to provide the administration and operation costs.

“That’s a wonderful compliment to the theatre,” said Hovanes, adding that the difference in votes was almost the same percentage when they went to the electorate asking for the capital commitment for $3.8 million a few years ago. “It’s going to bode very well for the community. We probably have the nicest 400 seat theatre you are going to find anywhere. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The opportunity to bring it up to its full potential and to have some decent dollars towards the operation of the theatre is going to allow it to flourish.”

Also winning by acclamation were Andre Miller and Rick Machial for the water council.

Of the 3,724 eligible voters, 1,263 voted. That equals out to 33 per cent.