File photo Karla Kozakevich director for Area E is expected to put her name forward for chair of the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen at next week’s meeting. She stands with current vice-chair of the board Manfred Bauer. (File photo)

Regional chair calls out Penticton mayor’s decision on appointments

Popularity over experience will impact board, RDOS chair

Choosing regional directors by vote count instead of experience means the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District board will lack continuity, the current chair of the RDOS said.

Karla Kozakevich, the chair of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen for the past two years, told the Western News she’d hoped Penticton councillor Judy Sentes would be re-appointed on the regional board.

Sentes was vice-chair on the hospital board for several years.

At the City of Penticton’s inaugural meeting Tuesday, Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki appointed himself and the three councillors with the highest number of votes Jake Kimberley, Frank Regehr and Julius Bloomfield (Campbell Watt declined), as Penticton’s representatives on the RDOS despite Sentes objection that experience be a factor in who would serve on RDOS.

Related: John Vassilaki takes Penticton mayor’s chair

The regional hospital board is made of area directors from RDOS or council representatives from the municipalities and acts as a liaison between Interior Health and the board.

“I was hoping she (Sentes) would be reappointed because she already stated she would let her name stand for vice-chair or chair and we would have continuity on that board,” she said. “It’s a lot to learn right out of the gate and two of the appointees (for RDOS) out of Penticton haven’t been Penticton councillors before.”

Michael Brydon, director for Area F (West Bench) was the previous chair of the hospital board but did not run for re-election.

In addition to the top spots on the regional board being new, about half of the 19 positions around the RDOS table are also new.

Returning are acclaimed directors Mark Pendergraft, Area A (Rural Osoyoos), Bob Coyne, Area H (Rural Princeton), George Bush, Area B, (Cawston). Winning re-election for their seats are Kozakevich, Area E, (Naramata), current vice-chair Manfred Bauer, Keremeos mayor, Sue McKortoff, Osoyoos mayor and Toni Boot, former councillor now mayor for Summerland.

Penticton mayor Vasisilaki previously served on the board two-terms ago as did the Penticton councillor Kimberley who served on the board over a decade ago. “Those two will need some updating. Things are not exactly the same as they were a decade ago,” Kozakevich said.

Rick Knodel, Area C, (Rural Oliver) served as an alternate in the last term.

Also new will be the representative from Oliver Petra Veintimilla who is a second-term councillor.

At this point it’s unknown who will be the councillor representative for Summerland or the representative for Princeton.

In addition to a number of first time politicians filling seats around the RDOS table, there is also a new area. Area D was split into two parts headed into the election on Oct. 20. The new Area D, represented by Ron Obirek, includes east side of Skaha Lake — Okanagan Falls, Skaha Estates, Heritage Hills, Upper Carmi and Vaseux Lake while Area I, represented by Subrina Monteith, covers Skaha Lake — Kaleden, Twin Lakes, St. Andrews, Marron Valley and Apex.

Kozakevich noted that since she took over as chair of the board it’s been the norm to be issuing local state’s of emergency for floods or fires for at least five to six months of the year.

Related: Cawston under state of emergency: RDOS

Kozakevich is hopeful she will be voted in again as chair by her colleagues at the inaugural meeting of the RDOS on Nov. 15. The chair is voted on annually.

“I feel like the chair has a more active role than in the past – for five to six months out of the year you need to be available 24 hours a day to issue local state’s of emergency and help where you can,” she said.

First up for the board will be setting strategic priorities and extensive budget sessions.

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