Wyers throws hat into mayoral race

A local councillor has announced her intention to run for mayor in November’s election.

Cher Wyers

A local councillor has announced her intention to run for mayor in November’s election.

Cher Wyers, who is in her second term with Grand Forks city council, spoke to the Gazette recently about her announcement and why she decided to throw her hat in the ring.

“I’ve been approached by several people in the community about running for mayor,” she said. “I decided this is something I’d really like to give back to the community with my leadership. My leadership style is different than (current) Mayor Brian Taylor’s. I’ve been known for my calm and thoughtful approach to leadership.”

Wyers said she thought about running for mayor as far back as December 2011 when Taylor announced at that time it would be his last term as mayor (although he’s now reconsidered for 2014).

“It kind of planted the seed right there to start thinking about it,” said Wyers. “I thought there was an opportunity right there to move forward and work for my community.”

Wyers was first elected to city council in 2008 and was reelected again in 2011.

Wyers got involved in politics shortly after returning to Grand Forks to live and work full-time in 2006 after spending four years working in the Fraser Valley while living here.

“I had worked in Abbotsford for four years with Coastal Pacific Aviation as a commuter,” she said. “The chamber of commerce position had come open and I applied for that and was successful. I walked right into the big flood at City Park in 2006.”

She was integral in expanding the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce into the regional organization it is now, covering the entire Boundary.

Wyers said she approach Community Futures manager Wendy McCulloch about seeing what the interest would be in the West Boundary as to having a regional chamber.

“Times are changing,” said Wyers. “Funding is becoming hard to come by. Membership is a small part of the chamber of commerce revenue. You need the memberships and the capacity. Although we were running with 150 members here in Grand Forks, ideally you need 300-500 members to sustain your chamber of commerce and at least have your executive director in a paying position.”

She and husband Ron came to Grand Forks from the Okanagan in 1997 to start an aviation maintenance business.

“He actually airports in B.C. because he wanted to start up him own business,” she said. “He found this airport ideal. There’s two friendly borders and they were just installing runway lighting, so it was perfect.”

Wyers is proud of many of the accomplishments that council has done during her time such as the asset management program and the environment committee.

“I’ve always been part of the environment committee as well,” said Wyers. “Back then it was the Boundary Air Quality Committee. For the asset management program, we as a council replaced the lift station. That was a critical part of our water infrastructure that had been on the verge of failing here for a number of years. It was certainly timely that we had that piece of infrastructure replaced.”

Wyers actually sat on the air quality committee as executive director for the chamber of commerce.

Another feather in Wyer’s cap is her work bringing the Head Start for Young Women program to Grand Forks last year.

The Head Start program started in November 2013 after Grand Forks was one of only six communities throughout Canada to be selected for the program.

Six local young ladies from aged 16-24 were selected and have been working with Wyers and other community mentors learning about  barriers that may be experienced by women in participating in local government.

The program will wind up with a conference on Oct. 3-5 in Grand Forks.

“We’re calling it ‘Save the Date,’” said Wyers. “We have 50 women coming, 47 women in local government in the Boundary plus three MLAs.”
Wyers is also a director on the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) executive, which is an organization that represents municipal governments and electoral areas from throughout the entire Kootenays.