In their own words: Getting to know the Nakusp candidates

Nakusp candidates answer: What experience and work background are you bringing to council?

  • Oct. 26, 2011 5:00 p.m.

Karen Hamling, Mayoral Candidate

I have a wide background of skills and experience including medical, business, local government and community service.

I have served on council for the Village of Nakusp for 17 ½ years, six of those as Mayor. I have sat as the municipal director, on the Regional District for the past 4 years and the West Kootenay Regional Health Board for six years. The Regional District appointed me as a director to the Columbia Basin Treaty Local Government Committee and the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust.

Previously owned two successful businesses in Nakusp: Karen’s Ceramics and the Lord Minto Restaurant. Worked at the Arrow Lakes Hospital for 35 years as the Health Records Director and as a licensed practical nurse.

Represented Nakusp and area as a director on Community Futures of Central Kootenay for 17 years and was the chair of the self employment committee for over 10 years; chair of the Nakusp and Area Development Board; Chair of Halcyon Home Revitalization – we saved Halcyon Home and turned it into assisted living; founding member and director of the Nakusp and Area Community Foundation and Nakusp and Area Community Forest and chair of the CBT Community Initiatives and Affected Area Funding.

Founder and co-ordinator of Music in the Park which has served the community for 14 years.

I have a passion for the community and as Mayor have supported as many organizations and functions as possible with dignity and integrity and want to serve as your Mayor for another three years.

Hans Suhr, Mayoral Candidate

I have lived in Nakusp since 2003 .I have been active in my community through various volunteer and work enterprises.

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree, a Primary Care Medicine diploma, and postsecondary studies in Labor Relations. I have served my community as a paramedic with BC Ambulance Service as well as seasonally in construction and tourism.

Since 2006 my primary role has been as stay-at-home parent for our two young children and I have remained committed to the enhancement of my local community through volunteering with various organizations.

I have served as director of the Nakusp and Area Community Foundations Board, Nakusp Centennial Golf Club, Hot Springs Advisory Board, Arrow Lakes Alliance Church Administrative Board, and most recently I was the Vice-President and Ref-in-Chief of Nakusp and District Minor Hockey Association. Currently I hold the position of West Kootenay Referee Committee Member for BC Hockey wherein I oversee the development and supervision for all officials in the West Kootenays.

The administrative and communication skills that I have acquired and honed through these experiences will assist me in fulfilling this role as an ambassador and spokesperson for the village of Nakusp. I have learned the value of teamwork and am able to collaborate with many different stakeholders to achieve common goals. Furthermore, I espouse the values of accountability, transparency within mandated guidelines and frameworks to achieve successful outcomes.

Len Heppner, Councillor Candidate

My work experience and back ground that I’m bringing to council is 40 years as a logger in Nakusp.

Logging requires good organizational skills  as well as the ability to think quickly and solve problems as they occur.

As well as those skills I’m known for a good work ethic and dependability.

Even more than those qualities I believe that to be a good councillor one must have the ability to listen and respond to people’s questions and concerns which I have  done in my four terms as a councillor.

I’ve always been approachable any time any where and if I’m re-elected I will continue to be that way.

I want to wish all the candidates good luck.

Bob Parkinson, Councillor Candidate

I am a caring, vibrant and committed resident of Nakusp and Arrow Lakes with deep solid family roots in the community for over 70 years.  Seven years ago my wife (Vivien Berry) and I returned to her childhood home to be close to her parents, Charlie and Ethel. In 2005, after 30 years, I retired as President  & CEO of a Lower Mainland financial institution.

I bring an extensive and varied resume of business acumen. Some strengths being brought to the position are:

Effective communicator with the ability to listen.

Team player with proven leadership qualities.

A solid understanding of “Corporate Governance”

Ability to measure, knowing: ”What gets measured, Gets Done”.

A proven understanding of financial and budgetary processes including bench- marks of sustainability factors.

Ability to understand the value of good corporate citizens and the values they bring to the community

A proactive Strategic Planner

Experience serving as member/director on many boards and committees both corporate and community

A good healthy sense of humor.

I am also currently serving as a director of Kootenay Savings Credit Union.

I would come to the council table with no agenda, no business conflicts and an open mind. I feel these life experiences would enable me to be a valuable asset to the Nakusp Village Council. We need a council that is informed and accountable to you the residents, owners and stakeholders of Nakusp.

Tom Zeleznik, Councillor Candidate

I was born and raised in the Nakusp area (Brouse) and the first job that I took after graduating from High School was a carpenter’s helper during the 1st phase of building the Nakusp Hot Springs, from there I became a parts man for Nakusp Automotive. Then ventured working on the tugboats. Next went into the forest industry doing all aspects of jobs required.

After a falling injury, in 1985, I acquired a log scaling and loader company business called Pattom Services Ltd. This company employs anywhere from 5-8 people at a time. I also own and operate a saw mill for custom cutting lumber and beams, along with a business that includes an excavator, dump truck and loader.

I am well aware of the importance of being diversified in order to live and raise a family in this beautiful valley.

I have been in the private sector my whole career. I personally believe we need more private sector jobs here to keep our families from moving away and am willing to work with all council members and all business sectors to find new ways to create jobs.

As a parent, raising children, I have been a volunteer coach in minor soccer, hockey, and baseball.

At the present time I am on the board of Nakusp Community Forest, and Nakusp Music Fest, also a volunteer fireman.


I believe in order to have a successful, thriving community volunteerism and community spirit are an important aspect that I am aware of.


Ulli Mueller, Councillor Candidate

Since immigrating to Canada in 1981 Nakusp has been my main place of residence and business for 30 years.

Currently I am operating my own Building Design business (since 1993) as well as a tourist lodging business (FrogsLeap Lodging, since 2004); I also work part-time for Selkirk College.

Over the past years I have been involved in the Retail (Owner, Nakusp Deli, 3 years) as well as the Pub/Restaurant (Part Owner, Wylie’s Pub/ Picardo Restaurant, 13 years) business.

My volunteer interests and experience on community boards have been in a variety of fields:

Recent and current volunteer involvement includes:

1999 – 2005: Chair, Arrow and Slocan Lakes Community Services

2002 – 2005: Member, Arrow Lakes Seniors Care Society

2002 – Ongoing: Director, Arrow Lakes Hospital Foundation

2005 – 2008: 1st term, Councillor on Village Council, Nakusp

2005 – 2009 : Member of the Social Sector Advisory Committee, Columbia Basin Trust.

2008 – Ongoing: Committee Member, Community Futures Nelson

2008 – Ongoing: Director, Nakusp Paddling Club

2008 – Ongoing: 2nd term, Councillor on Village Council, Nakusp

2009 – Ongoing: Member of the Economic Sector Advisory Committee, Columbia Basin Trust.


I believe that my extensive experience in the non-profit as well as the business sector enables me to continue to make a positive contribution to our Village and look forward to working with the mayor, council, and staff.

Joseph Hughes, Councillor Candidate

The experience and work background that I bring to council ranges from a Marketing Management Diploma to a Red Seal Journeyman ticket in carpentry.  Both have proven very beneficial during my term on council whether it’s sifting through a proposal for possible impacts on the community or finding the best solution to a building project that is in design stages.

I am a father of three young children and my wife and I have enjoyed hobby farming in the past.  I also dabble in sculpting and other artistic ventures.

All this has added to a well rounded life experience that gives me insight into contrasting issues that come before council.  I also represent a younger demographic.  Young families are facing trying times in our community so it is very important they have representation in council.

I am very pleased to add three years of serving on council to my experience.  In the last three years the community has invested in me and I am proud of the service I’ve managed during my first term.  Being on council has given me an opportunity to attend many meetings and seminars on social/economic issues in the region.  I am even more comfortable now representing the community in the next three years.

After all is said, the best experience I bring to council is my ability to represent the citizens of Nakusp during our meetings.  I seek out the opinions and reactions of people, which influences my input at the meetings.  I know what makes this community great and can see how issues affect these qualities.


Editor’s note: The Arrow Lakes News was unable to reach candidate Guy Duchaine in time for this week’s question as he was out of town. We hope to have his responses starting next week.


The Arrow Lakes News and the Nakusp and District Chamber of Commerce want to hear about what is important to you in this upcoming election!

The Nakusp and District Chamber of Commerce will be hosting an all-candidates forum for the Nakusp Municipal Election the evening of Thursday, November 3rd.

Please send questions you have for the candidates to the Chamber. Phone: 250-265-4234, or fax: 250-265-3808 your questions no later than Thursday, October 27. We look forward to hearing from you!