Elections 2018: Meet your Grand Forks Council Candidates

The biographies of the 13 candidates for City of Grand Forks council

Presenting the 13 candidates running for six seats on the City of Grand Forks council. General voting day is on Oct. 20.

Julia Butler

I sincerely thank the people of Grand Forks for the support, encouragement and advice during my first term in office. For those of you that have followed my work, you’ll know that it has not been easy and that I have remained strong and determined. As an incumbent, I have gained experience and knowledge around the governing legislation, board procedures and policy, the council yearly cycle, the 20 year capital plan, surrounding support agencies, the official community plan and many different bylaws. While on the recreation commission, I advocated for an increased mandate for the recreation department to offer more programs outside of the pool and arena. I advocated to preserve the Vienna Woods for future generations as parkland. I consistently urged council to release as much information as possible to the public and avoid closed door meetings. With support from the Union of B.C. Municipalities, I lobbied the federal government to keep aquifers and water infrastructure in the public domain. Most importantly though, the challenges that have come up have taught me to listen empathetically to the needs of my residents.

This incoming council will have one of the most challenging terms of any council, in having to continue to deal with the flood recovery process. I believe the new council needs to have more input into the recovery process in general. Specifically, land needs to be donated to the rebuilding efforts of folks who will received buy-outs. After covering their mortgages and expenses, flooded out families will be left with very little financial resources to start over and I believe that as a community we need to do everything we can to keep them in the community and give them a hand up. To encourage new business, we must create a clear process at city hall for developers. Current council advocated very well at the provincial level for increased police services and the incoming council will need to follow up on this work. Many challenging issues will be addressed this term and strong team building and training for the new council will be essential.

Zak Eburne-Stoodley

Life-long Grand Forks resident Zak Eburne-Stoodley is running for city council for the fifth time, and is asking Grand Forks residents to support him in his dream of helping lead this beautiful city into the future.

“This is a gem among communities,” he said. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else. With your help, I will be a fresh voice on city council. I will work hard for you and make sure your voice is heard.”

Zak has an extensive, proven track record of community service. He has spent many years volunteering for local events, groups and organizations.

“Actually, I can’t think of one I haven’t helped out with!” He is also the owner of Beyond the Boundary Computers.

“I am in this for the long haul,” Zak said. “The next four years I would like to see a long-term economic plan created and put into action. I would like to see all the dyke and bank rebuilding completed in a timely manner. I would like to see both long- and short-term housing completed in a timely manner.

“And most of all, I want to be part of a council that works cooperatively as a whole. We need to make Grand Forks affordable, efficient, and safe, and it all starts from the top down with a strong council.

“I am deeply committed to our community. I want to be part of this vision and that’s why I ask for your vote in the municipal election. Please contact me any time with any questions or concerns you want to discuss with me.”

442-3854 or zakeburne@gmail.com Vote Oct. 20.

Stan Halluk

I am not affiliated with any individual or group and I am not a politician. My only reason for running for council is to give the ratepayers a choice over the revolving door we have of the retreads that are running. My only agenda is to do my best for the City of Grand Forks and its ratepayers. I think I can contribute more common sense and also many years of experience in construction and asset maintenance to accomplish this.

My background is in surveying, drafting and involvement in projects building railroad and road grades, streets construction and railway maintenance. My highest position was that of project manager. I have worked in Alberta and B.C. and spent a year in Western Australia as track engineer on a project building a railway from port to an iron ore deposit. I have worked for both owners and contractors and am aware of what is needed to complete a job on time, under budget and to specifications. I have worked with unions and civic employees. My education is two years at University of Alberta in an engineering curriculum, two semesters at University of Calgary in general studies and a second level CGA. Before I retired I ran my own business as a distributor dealing in accounting and bookkeeping systems.

The citizens of Grand Forks have a great opportunity to get some new faces on council and if I’m elected I look forward to working with them in a spirit of constructive co-operation. Get out and vote!

Chris Hammett

I was elected to council in 2014 and have worked hard to promote economic growth and stability for Grand Forks. I believe that in order for any community to flourish it requires a strong economy, whether it be agricultural, retail, tourism, or commercial/industrial. One of my goals is to help promote economic growth by working with a team that is committed to business recruitment; encouraging a wide variety of commerce to fill existing gaps. “Without growth, it’s impossible to maintain city infrastructure and social and environmental programs.”

As liaison for the Downtown Business Association, I have advocated for measures to revitalize a vibrant downtown core, including a recently introduced revitalization tax exemption bylaw to give landlords an incentive to improve their buildings.

I am a hands-on volunteer for many causes and events, and I currently sit on several different committees, including the Grand Forks International. I have a high level of energy for things that I’m passionate about and consider myself a master at multi-tasking, often wearing several hats on the same day.

During my last term, council was actively engaged in seeking creative options to offer opportunities to develop and increase our housing/rental inventory. Since the flood, it has become a crisis situation and council must keep up the pressure for provincial assistance. I am promoting, through local realtors, the BC HousingHub program in the hopes of connecting potential developers with assistance in building new housing products, including affordable homes for purchase and affordable rental products. I would also like to see financial assistance to assist landlords in completing secondary suites in their homes, and upper floor rentals in commercial buildings.

I am committed, hardworking, and determined, and I recognize that there is an immense amount of work to be done during the next four years. I am a critical thinker who considers the bigger picture in order to make the best possible decisions, not just for the present, but for long term sustainability.

I would love to work with a positive team whose main vision is dedicated to the rebuilding of a new, stronger, sustainable Grand Forks.

Arnold Hoekstra

The health sciences have been my main line of study and work for 20 years of my adult life. I first obtained my Long Term Care Aide certificate from Douglas College and my Licensed Massage Practitioner diploma from a private institution in Vancouver, WA. I have an insiders understanding of the crisis and challenges that may arise in people’s lives through working with he physical and mental needs of my clients over the years. My family has been in Grand Forks for 10 years, five of which I worked at Boundary Hospital. My wife and I are raising seven children. Caring and compassion are very important forces in my life. My work career has been varied and I appreciate the challenges new situations present. I enjoy hands-on tasks and do well in resolving practical matters, yet always try to keep the long view of plans at the fore of decisions. I love to garden and do my own home renovations with help from friends.

Many of you will have met me through my work in the community. I was saddened by this most recent disaster to hit our town and felt compelled because of this to put my name forward in this election. Volunteering in the recovery effort was not enough. My goal as a city councillor is to have Grand Forks defined as a stable and caring community working in a harmonious way. The City of Grand Forks must improve its infrastructure (levees, sewage lines, etc). Also, I support adequate funding to ensure that those who lost their homes due to the flooding and everyone who doesn’t have adequate housing be secure for the winter and for the months ahead. Honesty and integrity at City Hall is of utmost importance to me.

If anyone has any questions, you can contact me through email or Facebook / arnie.hoekstra@gmail.com.

Cathy Korolek

I am Cathy Korolek, married, two children and three grandchildren. Originally from Fort St. James, we moved to Grand Forks in September 2003. Rod started work at P&T and has since retired. I opened my shop Heart n’ Sole Quilts right after we settled in. We have had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the world and building relationships with many of you.

I bring 23 years as a personal banker and administrator. I left the bank to start my business, Heart n’ Sole Quilts, which I brought with me. Eighteen years of meeting and sharing my passion of quilting

In my 26 years with Rotary I have been president three times and most recently four years as Assistant District Governor, where I had the pleasure of overseeing seven clubs. I truly enjoy being a Rotarian.

Currently I am President of the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce. I am also liaison to the Downtown Business Association. It is an honour to serve on these boards.

The past few months I have been a part of the flood recovery committee. It certainly opened my eyes to the challenge businesses face in time of need. I have also had the humbling experience of talking with many of you. Listening to your stories, sharing your concerns and looking to the future.

The next years will be challenging as we work on the road to recovery. Our businesses need our support to reopen and thrive. Our residents have immediate needs. A warm secure place to call home. It is only the beginning. We can do this together

I have come to love this community and the people who make it so special.

Place your confidence with me. Vote Cathy Korolek.

Neil Krog

My name is Neil Krog, my wife Andrea and I came to Grand Forks on our honeymoon 31 years ago. We fell in love with the community and moved here. I have been involved in our community for years as a paramedic, an instructor at the college and councillor. I also own Twisted Forks Catering. I have previously served on council for 19 years and was a director for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. I would like to thank the citizens of Grand Forks for allowing me to sit on Council for the past four years and would appreciate your support to continue.

In my time on council I have seen things that worked and those that did not, my experience has allowed me to function effectively within the framework of what we call local government. This is a critical time for our community. We faced a huge natural disaster and there has been a non-stop call for action since the flood. We see confusion, fear, and frustration on our neighbours’ faces and in the mirror. We all need, want and deserve answers, but are forced to wait for the province to make a decision. We are a community looking for answers and a way forward, then to have a BC Housing announcement, that quickly polarized the community did not help. How can someone sit in an office in Victoria and decide to put a no-barrier assisted housing project at the entrance to our downtown with no consultation with the city, the businesses or the community. Although we appreciate the willingness to invest, we need a made in Grand Forks solution not a cookie cutter designed for a bigger city.

We need to get everyone that was flooded out of their home, the owners, landlords, and renters back into housing before we worry about any project not specifically designed for them. We have a huge amount of work ahead as we take a fragile suffering community and make it whole again. With your support I would like to continue to be a part of that rebuilding. Thank you.

Chris Moslin

Once again I am volunteering for a challenging term on council. Difficult decisions have to be made within a framework of community involvement and respect. I believe I have the background knowledge, the practical experience, the work ethic, and the optimistic vision to again be of service to our city.

I arrived in Grand Forks in 1975 as a young teacher from the community of Richmond, B.C. That year I met my wife, Kathy McLeod, and together we built a home, pursued our teaching careers and raised our three children.

As a mountain biker, skier and hiker I fell in love with the Kootenay landscape, its people and their history. When the CPR abandoned their rails in 1991, I helped form the Boundary Rails to Trails Society to connect our region along the historic Trans Canada Trail. This passion gradually lured me into local politics and in 2005 I was elected to council.

Through two terms I became acquainted with the mechanics of municipal government. There were successes and failures, but through it all I was inspired by the devotion of city staff and the dedication of the volunteer citizens who made our achievements possible.

Since leaving council in 2011, I have continued to serve the community. I worked with Habitat for Humanity to build housing for low income families and those with special needs. I served as President of the Trails Society working with governments and others to build an outstanding trails system. In 2017, I was awarded the Sovereign Medal of Canada for trail building.

There are three critical tasks that the next council must complete:

The first task is to install the dikes, rip rap and berms necessary to reduce the flooding risk.

The second task the provincial government has given us is to create supportive and low rent housing. This housing must ‘fit’ our community or it won’t be sustainable.

The third task is to re-imagine our heritage downtown core to delight our visitors and to show boat our community culture.

For more information check out https://www.facebook.com/cmoslin2018 .

I look forward to working for you.

Danna O’Donnell

Danna O’Donnell is a certified, award-winning horticulturalist, bonafide farmer, wife and mother of three. She has lived in the Boundary area for over 22 years. Danna and her husband operated O’Donnell’s Garden Market, a nursery and fruit stand specializing in organic flower and vegetable production for seven years. The farm then switched gears and moved it’s focus to poultry production and market gardening. Many of you have met her at the farmers market over the years. Danna has been a Girl Guide leader, children’s soccer coach and referee, regional representative for the Boundary Organic Producers Association, a board member on the Grand Forks and Boundary Agricultural Society, and held positions of Treasure, and now, for two years the President of the Grand Forks Fall Fair Society.

Danna grew up in a small town in Ontario. She spent some time studying business and traveling, then moved west. Danna spent time living and working in downtown Vancouver managing a busy retail store. She met her future husband and moved to the interior to live with him. They wanted to live in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains with a slower lifestyle. Grand Forks was chosen for its east -west Valley with maximum sun, to settle down and raise a family. The people of Grand Forks, and many friendships that have developed make this her home.

She has met many families in town through bringing her children to Strong Start, Family Days and various family events. Grand Forks has always been the city where most of her families daily life happens. Danna and her family enjoy many thing that Grand Forks offer including bike trails, parks, library, arena, pool, shopping and restaurants.

Danna loves playing piano, drumming and singing. In her spare time she also loves biking, enjoying the local rivers, spending time at the lake and foraging in the local forests, baking, Can-Can dancing and volunteering.

Danna is a team player, hard working, intelligent, passionate and family orientated. Please see her Facebook page – Danna O’Donnell Campaign 2018 or email- odonnellsfarm@hotmail.comfor more information.

Kyle Piper

Grand Forks is a great place to raise a family and I want to help keep it that way. I moved here with my family in 2012 when I took over a small business. Since then I have enjoyed everything Grand Forks has to offer. I want my children to come back after post secondary and have a place to raise their own families.

Like anywhere there is issues here. We have just overcome a catastrophic flood that will have long term impacts on businesses and residents. I know these stresses first hand as I as well long my home. I will advocate for long-term solutions in protection and revitalization. We need more action now.

Transparency is a promise from any candidate. However, I want to look at innovative ways to offer that to the residents. Coffee with a councillor is the first idea that came to mind. This would be done in a group setting in a cafe or coffee shop allowing you a one-on-one conversation to share your ideas and frustrations. It’s the residents council serves, and we should always look at ways for our residents to be heard.

We need to look at fiscal responsibility. We were ranked 111th out of 152 municipalities in B.C. in the 11th edition of the British Columbia Municipal Spending Watch put out by the CFIB. In that report it outlines just some of the ways we need to look at. We need to look at the ways to shave operational cost to lessen the burden on our taxpayers. My goal is to move up that list.

I have 16 years of business ownership and management experience, and have had an interest in municipal government since a young age. I used to drive my parents crazy as a kid watching council meetings on TV. I want to use this experience to benefit our community.

I hope I have offered enough for you to me Oct. 20, however at the very least make sure you get out and vote. You have a great group to choose from.

Christine Thompson

I am seeking your support to re-elect me as a councillor for our city. Having worked for 23 years in the finance department of Grand Forks, and having served two terms as a city councillor, I bring both experience and knowledge of local government to the table. I am not affiliated with any organization or group, and if successful in my bid for a seat on council, I will continue to vote for what I believe to be in the best interests of the city as a whole. I am honest, responsible and reliable.

I have been married to my husband Brian for 46 years and we raised our two children here. We have three grandsons who we adore and look forward to seeing as often as we are able. I believe that this is indicative of the stability I would bring to the table if elected.

Grand Forks is my home town, and I very much want to see it prosper and grow in a managed way. With the recent catastrophe our city experienced with the May flood, this is our opportunity to come together as a community to support one another and to rebuild an inviting place for people to move to, or to visit.

At the UBCM I advocated with the Premier and his ministers for immediate funding to support the endeavours that council endorsed at the Sept. 4 regular meeting. I want to continue to advocate for everyone who lost their homes, cherished mementos, and personal belongings during this trying time. I want to continue working with our business community to advocate for their needs. I want to help foster economic development by working with others to encourage new businesses and industry to locate in our city. I assure you that if elected, I will continue to be fiscally responsible with your tax dollars as I have been in the previous four years. I will not make promises that I cannot keep.

On Oct. 20, please exercise your democratic right and vote. And please consider me, Christine Thompson, to be one of your councillors.

Cher Wyers

Since moving to Grand Forks in 1997 with my family, I have volunteered with Citizens on Patrol, Restorative Justice, 2009-10 Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Coordinator, Boundary Historical Society and the Grand Forks International. During four years as the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce manager, I recognized the financial benefit a regional approach to the organization would bring for the Boundary communities. In 2015, the Boundary Museum Society Board of Directors asked me to join them in continuing the historical legacy and my devotion to the Doukhobor beliefs evolved through many friendships.

I am running in this election because voters know what I can deliver, confidence in my decision-making and a respect for my years of service to the community. I bring no agenda. I have an open-slate to commit fully as your representative on city council. I am a good listener eager for discussions, debate the recommendations while respecting the trust that you have given me to achieve solutions that will best align with the community’s needs.

I served on city council from 2008 to 2014. During this period, the lift station was built, community trails developed, infrastructure deficiencies identified and prioritized under the asset management plan. Environmental protection for air quality, water sustainability and carbon neutrality brought industry, business and community leaders together to resolve issues.

I am not about to ‘sugar-coat’ the challenges that lie ahead after the devastation left behind by the spring flood nor will I make unrealistic promises. What I can promise is I will listen and you will be heard. It is going to be a long and difficult recovery; a journey I want to make with you. I understand what it is to be homeless. In 2017, our rental home was sold and subsequently flooded from a broken water line. That is when my family faced the housing shortage in the community. Thankfully, we moved into our son’s residence in Area D expecting it to be for the short term.

I ask for your support on Oct. 20. Together, we can rebuild a better Grand Forks to raise our families and build dreams.

Rod Zielinski

Hello, my name is Rod Zielinski and I would like to be one of your next city councillors. I am currently , retired and have free time to contribute back to the community. My wife and I chose Grand Forks as our retirement place many years ago and in 2012 I was able to get employment with the City of Grand Forks where I worked in the electrical department for five years. Previously we lived in Pincher Creek, Alberta for over twenty years. Over those years we raised our family and enjoyed all that the area had to offer. In Pincher Creek I was employed by Fortis Alberta where I was the Area Forman for the region. It was during this time that I also had the privilege to serve as a councillor for the M.D. of Pincher Creek for 14 years.

With my past employment at the city and my five terms of being a councillor in Pincher Creek, Alberta I know the expectations of being an elected representative. The next four years are going to be very demanding and I believe I have what it takes to hit the ground running. I have learned that even though four years sounds like a long time, to get things done in government you must act with purpose and direction.

Dealing with our lack of housing will be an issue that council will have to understand fully to move forward with any long term development that fits the community. Council must hear the community’s thoughts and feelings on our present situation, proposed flood recovery plans and path to the future. It is with a community involved planning process that we can create a city with a future for all residents now and for many generations to come.

On Oct. 20, please vote Rod Zielinski for city councillor (I’m last on the ballot so save a vote for the end). For more information contact me at 2018voteRZ@gmail.com or visit me on Facebook.

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