Municipal Election 2014: Challenger Marken takes on Incumbent Faust in RDCK Area E
Two-term incumbent Ramona Faust and challenger Rick Marken square off in Area E elections Saturday, November 15 to see who will represent Blewett, Balfour, Harrop and Proctor around the board table of the Regional District of Central Kootenay.
Faust, who has lived in the area for the past 40 years, has worked in a management role for the past 16 years and now has a consulting business, focusing on grant writing and community development.
Along with husband Don, Faust is the proud grand parents of three boys and has a long history of volunteering for many projects in the social, business and environment sectors.
Challenger Marken, a Blewett resident, who is married with two sons, has lived in the area for several generations.
Marken runs a property management business, where he builds, purchases, renovates and re-sells homes.
Marken has also worked for the federal government in environmental management and habitat protection and served on the rec commission and Chamber of Commerce.
The Nelson Daily contacted both candidates with a few questions to help readers decide where to mark the “X” at the polling station November 15.
The Nelson Daily: In your area, what do you think are the most pressing issues and, if elected, how will you address them?
Ramona Faust: Area E has high property tax assessments most particularly along the lakeshore. This increase in assessments over the past decade has made it very difficult for people who retired before the property value explosion in the 2004-2008 markets.
The funds they thought they had have been eaten away by inflation. Many love where they live but taxation hits them hard. There are limited seniors facilities to transition into, many with waiting lists even if they wanted to leave their homes.
Once medical needs come into play stress increases. In contrast to this there are many young families who need amenities and balancing the need for tax stability for seniors and growth opportunities for families is the role we play. I want to work with seniors to assist them in their choices where they want that assistance.
I want to partner with the province, the private sector and other funders to solve these issues.
Rick Marken: In Area E there are number of pressing issues, most of which, are common to adjacent rural areas and Nelson. Some issues are keeping a handle on tax increases and responsible spending, water user groups, the Aquatic center upgrade, seniors and affordable housing, recreation, environmental sustainability, transit and cooperation with businesses to improve the tax base.
To address these and other important issues it is my intention to review and prioritize core services. My top priority will remain, fire and rescue and emergency preparedness. Duties and services provided by the RDCK will identify directions for staff and provide more efficiency, providing relief from tax increases.
We need stability and resilience by identifying our Priorities creating an atmosphere of fiscal responsibility.
The Nelson Daily: RDCK spending and transparency seems to be an issue for many residents. Do you feel the RDCK is doing a proper job of allocating funds, and if not, what would you change?
Ramona Faust: The issue of transparency is interesting. I have a very good network of constituents that I keep informed of RDCK issues by using a blog, Facebook, community e-mail lists and have taken out Pennywise ads to direct people to the blog.
Our financial plan is on the website, our budget deliberations are open to the public and the last couple of years the information has been presented in a more user-friendly form. We have purchased a new financial accounting system that will allow directors better access to quarterly financials. A big improvement!
We get 6 or 8 people out to budget meetings designed specifically for Nelson Area E and F. I think over time we can have more interactive engagement in the budget process and get people prioritizing. Some municipalities use television, internet and brainstorm meetings to build an understanding of budget choices.
There was a lot of concern over the furniture purchase. We put something out to tender and wanted specific products.
This is not a simple project.
Taking many years of happen stance office modifications and transforming it into a modern and efficient space with room for current and future employees required design work. The new board table with its electronic wiring allows the RDCK to move our emergency operations out of the Telus building and into the RDCK Building, which will be far more efficient.
Our staff is expected to run complex emergency responses like Johnson’s Landing with regional and provincial teams coming in to assist. We need to step up. The old table had been recovered with melamine to extend its life and had been moved up from the old RDCK office on Vernon Street.
I am in a local business family and local is important to me as evidenced by my past career choices. I will look forward to reviewing our purchasing policy and would like to see the RDCK adopt some of the recommendations in the resource guide-BUYING LOCAL:Tools for Forward-Thinking Institutions.
We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the local communities where we have offices primarily Nelson. We grant funds thousands of dollars to community organizations to build local capacity and infrastructure and I think that is money well spent.
Rick Marken: Transparency and accountability are both lacking, although I do not believe it is connived but rather overlooked by those very busy and working hard, not guided with priorities of duties and services.
Under these conditions it is difficult to allocate funds.
We must identify core services and authorities, mandates and responsibilities of the RDCK and focus on the allocation of resources to those services and priorities deemed important by the taxpayers.
There will be efficiencies identified, and implemented without tax increases.
Advance polling day for voting in the RDCK is Wednesday, November 5, 2014 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Click here for a location in your area.