Residents of Nakusp are going to have a contest in their upcoming by-election after all.
Two people have thrown their hat into the ring to fill the council seat left vacant by councillor Janis Neufeld, who announced she was leaving in April.
The two are Ken Miller, a retired maintenance man, and Reny Kitto, a local businessman in the village.
The deadline for nominations was last Friday.
“There’s a natural drive in me that won’t let me sit back and watch from the sidelines,” says Kitto of his decision to run. “Surprisingly I get a lot of people coming through my store, and the first thing they talk about is issues in the town.
“I seem to be a lightning rod for this.”
Kitto says he has no illusions about what a councillor can accomplish in a single term, saying it’s like a tree-planter putting a seed in the ground.
“You’ll plant a seed knowing you’ll likely not be around to see the tree bear fruit, but you’re comfortable knowing your seed will bear fruit for future generations,” he says. “You just hope you can get good positive momentum going, so that future councils can keep the momentum to push forward.”
Kitto says one thing he would like to work on is low-income housing to develop the village’s capacity for workers.
“We’re in a Catch-22, a horse-and-cart problem, right now you have a dozen businesses looking for help, but try finding them a place to stay,” he says.
“People can’t afford it, people have to work three or four jobs just to live here,” he adds. “It’s manageable for people who have been here for 50 years, but that doesn’t help us grow, we need new young families here, and affordable housing.”
Kitto ran in the October 2018 general municipal election, but came in second-last in that race.
Kitto’s rival this time around, Ken Miller, said he threw his name into the ring after being encouraged to do so by several local voters.
“I thought about it last election but I didn’t bother,” he says. “I’ve tried to stay away from everything for a while.”
If he wins the by-election, it will be history repeating itself. He first had a stint on council back in 1993, when he took over a vacant seat. His second term on council was in the early 2000s.
But since then he’s shied away from politics, he says.
“I have just stayed away from it, so I am going in with no prior thought of anything,” he told the Arrow Lakes News. “I have to update myself with what’s going on, and what the issues are.”
Miller, who’s the treasurer of the Arrow Lakes Hospital Foundation and a volunteer at the Legion, says one thing he would like to see addressed is growing Nakusp.
“When I was younger I was selfish, I wanted to keep Nakusp quiet,” he admits. “Now I have different views. It’s grown nicely and it’s still a beautiful place to be, so I want to help it stay that way.”
Both men can officially begin campaigning on June 15.
Voting day is on July 13.