Penticton politicians dominate regional boards

Penticton-area politicians now occupy three of the top four spots on two regional boards.

Penticton-area politicians now occupy three of the top four spots on two regional boards.

Mark Pendergraft was acclaimed last week as chairman of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. As the director for rural Osoyoos, he’s the sole person from outside the area picked to a leadership position. Pendergraft’s vice-chairman is Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, who bested Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer in a secret vote. Meanwhile, West Bench Director Michael Brydon was elected as chairman of Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District board, and Judy Sentes, a Penticton city councillor, was tapped as vice-chairwoman. Despite the heavy Penticton presence at the top of both boards, Jakubeit pledged the groups will see beyond city limits.

“We’ve all been very vocal about our regional priorities or being regionally minded in our philosophies on how the regional district should operate,” he said.

Penticton is “the hub, but we’re still regionally minded that whatever happens in the region is going to be beneficial for all of us,” Jakubeit continued.

“Regional tourism, partnerships with the First Nations, they’re all sort of key strategies, at least to my way of thinking”

With nearly 40 per cent turnover on the RDOS board following the municipal election, Pendergraft said a priority will be “moving forward with regional perspective,” but it may take awhile to figure out where exactly the organization wants to head.

“We’ve started some strategic planning, but we haven’t really come up with anything yet. I guess because it’s a new board, I think we need to get down and meet and see where we want to go,” he said.

“Everybody seems good and interested, and I think it’s going to be a great board.”

Brydon, who replaced retired Summerland mayor Janice Perrino as the head of the hospital district, said via email that with construction of the new patient care tower at Penticton Regional Hospital expected to begin in 2016, his board’s job will transition from one of advocacy for the project to a “broader oversight role.”

“My hope is that we can leverage the OSRHD’s oversight role once again to gain a seat at the priority-setting and decision-making table,” he said.

The boards of both the regional district and hospital district are composed of the same 18 directors elected in eight rural areas and member municipalities.

New RDOS board members this term include Terry Schafer (Area C), Elef Christensen (Area G), Bob Coyne (Area H), Andre Martin (Penticton), Peter Waterman (Summerland), Toni Boot (Summerland) and Sue McKortoff (Osoyoos).