Janice Perrino may have been given a pass, but she doesn’t think that voters get one, too.
The Summerland mayor can put away her re-election signs after being acclaimed on Friday after nominations for the 2011 civic election closed and the chief electoral officer found no one challenging Perrino in her bid for a sophomore term.
“It wasn’t a moment at all to be taken for granted. I just felt so incredibly thankful,” she said Monday, adding she considers it a push from the community to continue down the road they’re heading. “You don’t take it as praise as such. You realize that this is the right path; keep going.”
But now heading into a civic election, she said she wonders whether voters will be less interested in making a trip to the polls without a mayoralty race to lure them in.
“I don’t want people to become complacent. I’m reminded of my father’s words: veterans fought in the war for our right to vote. It is our right, so let’s exercise it. When I couldn’t vote, my parents took me to the voting polls. That’s always been important,” she said.
“Council is made up of seven players. The mayor’s one vote. So those other six people have to be the people the community wants at the table.”
There will still be an election to choose the six individuals who will sit at the council table.
Incumbents Jim Kyluik, Bruce Hallquist, Gordon Clark, Lloyd Christopherson, Ken Roberge and Sam Elia have all decided to run for another kick at the political can. Five challengers will also vie for those seats: Martin Van Alphen, Robert Hacking, Peter Waterman, Orv Robson and Donna Wright.
“There are 11 incredible people who have put their names forward,” Perrino said. “It’s up to the voters to make sure that the people they want there making decisions are there. I trust the voters. They know who they want. They’re intelligent and aware of what they want.
“Let’s pick the six who the community wants to represent them, because I’m only one vote.”
Perrino said the candidates have to be up to a few tasks in Summerland. The community continues to grapple with declining population, so she said focusing on community building, densification of the downtown core and economic development will be crucial to the village’s future.
“Particularly we need to help our business community to grow and prosper. That’s our weak spot, having lost so many jobs over the last three or four years,” she said. “I know there’s an economic downturn worldwide, but I think we can have a really successful path for the future.”
And although no one officially contested her bid for re-election, Perrino said residents are always vigilant in watching over their elected officials.
“There are 11,000 challengers out there, and you keep going,” she said, adding she hopes those residents cast their ballots this fall. “We’re the only community in the whole valley that has had this issue. There’s lots of excitement around. I don’t want our people to be forgotten.”