Observations, oddities, and other trivia gleaned from the local government election results in West Kootenay/Boundary:
A noteworthy first: For the first time, the three largest communities in West Kootenay will have women as mayors at the same time. Nelson’s Janice Morrison, Castlegar’s Maria McFaddin, and Trail’s Colleen Jones were all elected.
Each is the second woman to serve as mayor of their community, after Deb Kozak (2014-18), Audrey Moore (1977-93), and Lisa Pasin (2018-22), respectively. Pasin and Jones formed just the third all-female mayoral race in West Kootenay, which is amazing considering it was only four years ago that Pasin became the first woman elected mayor of Trail and only the second to seek the job.
In total, there will be six female mayors in West Kootenay/Boundary during the next term, the same as there are now, although not all in the same places as before.
Gender balance: Women will form the majority on council in Castlegar (five out of seven), Salmo (four out of five), Kaslo (three out of five), and Slocan (at least three out of five, but possibly four, depending on the outcome of a recount, of which see more below).
Every one of the 17 local councils will have at least one woman, unlike in 2018 when New Denver and Midway were exclusively male. Slocan is the only place locally where an all-female council has existed, from 2008-14.
Closest mayoral race: In Castlegar, incumbent councillor Maria McFaddin beat former mayor Lawrence Chernoff by five votes, 920 to 915. A recount has confirmed the results. Coincidentally, 915 votes was also the number Nelson mayoral runner-up John Dooley received.
Closest council race: In Slocan, Nicol Berinstein and incumbent Ezra Buller are tied for the fourth and final council seat with 72 votes each, while Delaine Hird is sixth with 71. A judicial recount will be held. If that fails to settle things, a name will be picked out of a hat or some other receptacle. That’s what happened in Slocan in 2008 when Jean Patterson earned the final seat over Tamara Matthews. In the same year, Donna Cormie was elected to Kaslo council over Rich Jones using the same method.
Most votes: First-time candidate Kate Tait earned 2,417 to win a seat on Nelson council.
Most votes for a mayoral candidate who didn’t win: Lisa Pasin, Trail, 1,078. That would have been enough to win any other race except Nelson and Creston.
Most votes for a council candidate who didn’t win: Glenn Sutherland, Nelson, 1,370.
Fewest votes for a winning mayoral candidate: Jessica Lunn, Slocan, 94.
Fewest votes for a winning council candidate: Leah Main, Silverton, 61.
Highest turnout: New Denver at 77 per cent, helped in part by a contentious campaign that followed controversy over the location of a pump track. Nearby Silverton was not far behind at 65 per cent.
Lowest turnout: Fruitvale, at 26 per cent. Castlegar and Nakusp were not much better at 29 per cent each. Rural residents mostly avoided voting: just 19 per cent cast ballots in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and 25 per cent in the Regional District of Central Kootenay.
First to report results: Castlegar, which uses electronic vote counting machines, sent out their tallies at 8:31 p.m. on Saturday, barely more than half an hour after the polls closed.
Last to report results: Kaslo, sometime after 1 a.m. on Sunday.
Round three: In Midway, Martin Fromme and Doug McMynn squared off for mayor for the third time since a 2016 by-election. McMynn took round one, 175 to 68. In 2018, Fromme came out on top, 136 to 121. This time, McMynn won 237 to 86. If there is a pattern to be found in those numbers, it’s not obvious.
Head scratcher: A year and a half ago, Florio Vassilakakis came within 42 votes of being elected Castlegar’s mayor. Yet on Saturday, he couldn’t crack the top six in the race for council. He was the only candidate to miss the cut.
Youth movement: At 24, Maya Provencal may be the youngest person ever elected to Rossland council, and joins a select group to take office in the West Kootenay/Boundary before their 25th birthday. Others include Tom Shkrabuik in Grand Forks, Joseph Hughes in Nakusp, and Michelle Mungall in Nelson. But what makes Provencal’s win all the more impressive is that she topped the polls, outdistancing 10 other candidates. Her vote total of 1,129 was also 150 more than the second-place finisher.
The JP vote: In 2014, three candidates with the initials JP ran for Nelson city council (Justin Pelant, John Paolozzi, and Jason Peil). They finished seventh, eighth, and ninth, so none was elected. This time Jesse Pineiro redeemed them with a fifth-place finish to earn a spot.
Two for one: Running in two places at once has rarely worked out for candidates. Soon-to-retire RDCK Arrow Lakes director Paul Peterson pulled it off once, serving simultaneously as both director and a school trustee, although he said it wasn’t easy.
In 2014, Gord Zaitsoff ran at the same time for mayor of Castlegar and RDCK Area J director, where he was the incumbent, but lost both races. Jared LeBlanc also ran that year for mayor of Creston and regional director of RDCK Area B, but didn’t win either position. In 2018, Aiden McLaren-Caux won a seat on Nakusp council but fell short in his bid for school trustee.
This time incumbent RDKB Area D director Danna O’Donnell ran for re-election and also for mayor of Grand Forks. She was defeated in both races.
Keeps going and going: One name has appeared on the ballot in every local government election in West Kootenay since 1986. Like the Energizer bunny, Hans Cunningham shows no sign of slowing down. He’s served continuously as director for Area G (Salmo Valley) of the Regional District of Central Kootenay and voters gave him another mandate this time. While it wasn’t a landslide, neither was it particularly close.
By the end of his next term, Cunningham will be a month shy of 40 years in office and pass former Midway Jim McMynn (Doug’s father) as the area’s longest-serving politician. McMynn was the mayor of Midway for 38 years, from its founding in 1967 until his retirement in 2005.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said voter turnout in the RDCK was 12 per cent, based on information from CivicInfoBC.