RDCK Election 2011: Ramona Faust looks to keep the good work going in Area E
Ramona Faust is one of two candidates — along with Josh Smienk — for the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s Area E, an area just east of Nelson that contains many of the people that build, work, shop and make the Heritage City what is really is.
As the incumbent, we asked her to send in some answers to a few questions as the Nov. 19 date for the regional district election approaches.
Here are her words:
By Ramona Faust
I came to the West Kootenay to visit friends on the way to Vancouver 32 years ago, fell in love with the friendly people and beautiful ethereal landscape.
Two years later I went to Vancouver to attend school and work, but returned to the Kootenays after three years of being homesick — and I have been here ever since (all in Area E).
What is it about your regional district area that you like?
Area E is unique in its independence and volunteerism. People are proud of the assets in the community and work diligently to maintain them.
Community buildings are gathering places and this, in turn, creates a supportive community.
Area E is home to a surprising diversity of accomplished professionals both actively working and retired.
What do you do for a living (or what did you do if now retired)?
I have worked as the executive director of a community service agency in Kaslo for six years where I led a team of professionals serving individuals and families with counseling services as well as offering early childhood development, recreational, and food security programs.
It is a great job. We recently received accreditation from the Council on Accreditation verifying that processes policies and services are transparent and meet the highest of Canadian standards.
I stepped away from that position last week to focus my attention on the RDCK.
Do you have any political or other organizational experience?
I have a lot of organizational experience as a volunteer as well as within my work life. I have been involved with incorporating two societies and a co-operative and been on the board or advisory committee of a dozen organizations both at the community and provincial level.
What made you personally decide to run again?
I am running for re-election because there has been good work started in Area E and at the RDCK board table and I would like to see projects get implemented and not stagnate.
Making waste and recycling more efficient and ridding taxpayers of some of the ongoing burden of the Cannex Landfill near Salmo, making transit more efficient, caring for Kootenay Lake, working on the Morning Mountain file and working with community groups and on community issues is important to Area E.
I want to work on behalf of all of Area E and recognize we are distinct and that we also have relationships with other rural areas and Nelson.
What did you see happening in your area that made you want to become involved in regional district politics?
Initially, I ran for office because I felt people needed to be more informed about local government and that opportunities were passing by Area E.
People work really hard on water systems, recreation facilities sports fields golf courses and they need support.
I have noted hyperbole in the press about taxes going up since 2008. A large chunk of the moderate tax increase in 2009 was a direct result of the blue bag recycling program implemented in 2008 before I took office. We also had a deficit to erase in waste and recycling
There was no community engagement about that project and now my opponent would like the public to think that he can keep taxes down and that someone else is to blame.
The truth is there are sometimes unforeseen costs in government and sometimes the public is willing to absorb costs to get what they want.
The Nelson and District Recreation Centre requires a high number of skilled staff and repairs to the building. It is hard to contain costs there, but staff have done a good job of raising revenue to offset taxes paid by Blewett, Nelson, and Area F who chose to be involved with the rec. centre.
Blame and innuendo is wrong thinking.
What do you think you bring to the regional district table as a politician?
- Being willing to listen and honesty is a good trait in a regional district director.
List a few characteristics that you feel embody a regional district politician?
- I think I bring open government, community development, history of bringing financial growth to projects and common sense action on sustainability to the RDCK table. I listen and answer.
What do you see as one of the biggest problems the regional district has to deal with next?
- The regional district is dealing with growth in the rural areas, causing increased assessed values which means increased taxation. I think lakeshore properties and large homes contribute to this. It means it’s hard on young people and the elderly.
Do you see the regional district as a special case in terms of community, or are we dealing with the same issues as everyone else in B.C.?
- We also face downloading of costs from other levels of government, which is common to all local governments.
What is one thing you would change in the regional district?
- We have staff turn over which is costly and interrupts service and we need to determine the cause and work on stability.
Any other issues you see happening in the regional district that need to be addressed?
- Water systems and septic systems are a looming issue. We know as we advance in age as a society and decrease in financial and physical ability to address upgrades and repairs, local government may have a larger role to play. There is lots of important work to be done, and I am up for the challenge.