Local Government Elections 2018: Presenting the City of Grand Forks mayoral candidates

The three candidates running for election on Oct. 20.

The three candidates running for the City of Grand Forks mayoral seat.

Everett Baker

My name is Everett Baker, and I am running for mayor of Grand Forks as a community leader. I own Grand Forks Funeral Home, I am the President of the Boundary Food Bank Society, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, and a Rotarian.

I am not running for mayor because there is one issue I want to see changed or because I am angry. I am running to give back to my community and for my children and grandchildren who live, work, and volunteer in Grand Forks.

Going forward we will need strong leadership. My leadership in non-profits both locally and provincially and my work in both government and opposition has given me the skills needed to effectively lead our city. My profession has taught me to be a good listener and to see the big picture.

I understand the frustration of those who lost their homes and businesses. I was there fighting alongside. My daughter Hannah and her husband Adam lost their home. The funeral home had sewer and ground water in the lower floor, causing us to put our emergency plan into effect. During the weeks following I heard your stories. I want you to know that I listened and I will be your advocate for fair compensation from government and that we get the infrastructure needed to protect our city. We are defined by our people, not flood or fire.

The proverb “without a vision the people perish,” is addressed by my idea for a 10-year plan that is formulated by listening. I will start monthly “Coffee with the Mayor” where citizens can schedule a face to face conversation. I believe we need to grow our tax base, which means extending our city limits. If we are going to grow to the west, we need infrastructure to support that growth. I will initiate a Mayor’s Task Force on addiction, mental health, and the social needs of our community so that we can find homegrown solutions that are not dictated by the province.

For the last several years I have worked in provincial politics. I have worked alongside our MLA with mayors and regional directors in the Boundary-Similkameen. I have earned the respect of many of the mayors and government leaders in the region. I chair the riding board that consists of MLA, mayors, councillors, regional directors, and community leaders. I have been at the table with provincial ministers and am a member of the Okanagan Caucus Presidents’ Council. I have always been a strong voice for our community whether in government or opposition. I have worked hard to build strong relationships which will serve me well as your mayor.

Being mayor is about working together as a team and honoring the voices of our community. Councillors, city staff and citizens such as yourselves have ideas that deserve consideration. I believe I have the passion and skills to give sound leadership to our city.

Respectfully submitted,

Everett Baker

Gary Smith

Hello my name is Gary Smith and I am asking you to choose me as Mayor on Oct. 20. As a resident here now for 14 years, my wife and I believe this community is where we belong. Our children and grandchildren have also come to call Grand Forks home.

I believe residents of Grand Forks are seeking a different kind of leadership: leadership that values their experience and expertise; leadership that engages them in the decisions affecting their community. I believe by listening to all residents and valuing their ideas and input, we can make the best of our collective intelligence.This engagement leads to participation in designing our future.Engaged citizens are more willing to participate, collaborate, and create. In creating, we are invited to take ownership of the outcomes of our efforts and to be accountable to them. Instead of pulling from the front or pushing from behind, this style of leadership is from within and has us all moving toward the future we design, together. It is referred to as participatory governance. It is an expression of the true will of the community.

As a volunteer firefighter and first responder for seven years, I fully appreciate how to work as a team. Being the lead organizer for the 2011 and 2017 Firefighter Spring Training sessions held in Grand Forks where hundreds of firefighters participated, I know how to bring diverse talents together, share responsibility, delegate authority, supervise without micromanaging, and recognize and celebrate everyone’s efforts.

My great passion for community is tempered with pragmatism. Pragmatism as cultivated via my continuing studies focused on community and belonging with the understanding our mutual interests are our best interests.

With formal training in the Art of Hosting methodology and having put it to good use in convening and facilitating many Community Conversations over the last three year, I’ve built community through engaged dialogue. My work as president of the Phoenix Foundation of the Boundary Communities over the last four years has helped raise the profile of our philanthropic organization not only in the region we serve, but provincially and nationally as well. With the support of the Vancouver Foundation, I have been working with other BC foundations to form a grassroots network under the marketing banner “Hearts in the Heart of Community”, and “Give Where You Live B.C.”, and have successfully petitioned the province for the last two years to proclaim September “B.C. Community Foundations Month.”

I’d like to see Grand Forks become “BC’s Biggest Neighbourhood;” a poster child for what rural B.C. can be. The skills and experience I bring from my previous work on council and in my current passion for philanthropy can help shape that, with the cooperation of my fellow councillors. I am confident in every way that I am suited to be Mayor of Grand Forks. In fact, I have committed to eight years with the intention that I and our team will perform so well we will be acclaimed to a second term.

Brian Taylor

I moved to Grand Forks in the early 90s from the Okanagan where for 20 years I managed housing and support services for families and children. I was first elected mayor in 1997 and had the honor of celebrating Grand Forks’ 100 anniversary. In my nine years as mayor, we never faced the challenges that Grand Forks faces today. I have come to identify four key issues for Grand Forks:

Flood Recovery

The immediate challenge is turning one of the worst disasters in the history of Grand Forks into our community’s greatest opportunity. The request for funding from the provincial and federal governments for the rebuilding process is $60 million. The message from the flood recovery team is to not expect everything we have asked for. We will be asked to return to the original plan and prioritize our use of this funding. Most importantly, we will be reaching out to further discuss options with the people affected. I believe the next stage will bring a more sensitive case-by-case approach.

Housing

Grand Forks was facing a severe housing shortage before the flood. BC Housing has promised to build over 100 homes in Grand Forks in the next year. Few are questioning our need for these developments, but many have serious concerns with the locations BC Housing has chosen. The supportive housing and the low income family housing will be managed by a non-profit from outside our community. To ensure the success of both these projects, it is essential that a local board hold this non-profit accountable.

Community Safety

When first I moved here, I would brag that I could leave my keys in my car, leave my house unlocked and feel safe in any place in town. Many have chosen to live in a small town for that sense of comfort and personal security.

It is common knowledge that the behaviour of a small group of individuals, are causing the majority of the problems. Our community is not alone. What we are facing is a broken justice system, limited mental health support and a community that has lost confidence in the RCMP to respond to complaints. We need to fix this broken system by improving the relationship with the RCMP through recognizing the frustrations they have and by asking citizens to keep reporting offences.

Economic Development

The coming four years will see major building and we will require skilled labourers. I intend to ensure our local working population has a chance at the new jobs that will be created by these developments.

Our community is also attracting investment and interest by business and developers. People are choosing Grand Forks and new arrivals are building homes. Our vision of long term water security, plans for a community centre and a revitalized downtown core are giving hope for the future.

As mayor, I will ensure that council works together to present a unified voice to governments and to the community.

To share your vision for Grand Forks or ask a question: 250-443-1734.

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