Victor Smith is the new mayor-elect of the District of Hope.
The former councillor received 1,103 votes while his only opponent, candidate Wilfried Vicktor, received 495 votes.
“It’s exciting to learn that I’m the mayor of Hope,” said Smith to the Standard, on election night Saturday, after learning he’d won. “I’m fairly proud to be that. And I look forward to seeing council, and working with everyone at the table to move our town forward. All for the goodness of Hope.”
Smith, who served on the current council, had been spending the evening at the Owl Street Cafe, surrounded by friends, family, and supporters, when he got the news that he won. His wife, Bev Smith, had been the first one to hug him and congratulate him for his “landslide” win.
Vicktor — who served as councillor and mayor before — had nothing but well wishes for Smith and the new council.
“I wish them all well,” he said. “Looks like I have a little extra free time here, for the next four years, to do other things. It was good to run and I wish the council well.”
A resident of Hope since birth, Smith is the president of the Hope and District Chamber of Commerce and the past owner of Riggers Industrial Sales. He is well known in the community for the town’s chainsaw carving events and for the many projects and groups he is actively involved in. This is his first term as mayor. And he is excited to be working together with the councillor-elects towards the “goodness” of Hope.
For Smith, who just spent the last four years on council listening to people and the issues troubling the district, he says there is a need for affordable housing. And it’s one of the things he wants to address during this term in office.
“Just from talking to people, a lot of people are willing to have a smaller home just so they can live and survive and be able to afford [shelter]. But in today’s economy, because everything — the price of fuel, the price of food, and everything else — they’ve realized that they can’t afford it right now,” said Smith. “So, let’s get something so they can achieve that first step.”
The newly elected mayor and council have a lot riding on their shoulders this term; a number of issues and concerns have been on the minds of many Hope residents including emergency preparedness planning, housing, homelessness, improving working relationships with First Nations communities, and improving road infrastructure.
Part of alleviating those concerns, says Smith, is recognizing that the council needs to be more communicative with the public.
“We want to move forward. So we got to make sure that we keep our books balanced, our taxes at a reasonable level, and to figure out how to do improvements,” he said.
A total of 1,623 ballots were cast, with an estimated 5,523 people in Hope eligible to vote. This means voter turnout was around 29 per cent which is a significant decrease from last election, when voter turnout was around 39.6 per cent.
Aside from the council and mayor, residents also elected three school board trustees and a new Electoral B director, Peter Adamo. The new trustee-elects are incumbents Heather Stewin and Linda Kerr, and newcomer Pattie Desjardins.
For more coverage on the newly elected school board trustees and Electoral B director, make sure to look in next week’s print edition of the Hope Standard.