As part of our B.C. election coverage, the Penticton Western News asked candidates to submit a bio about themselves, why they are running and what is the most important issue in the Penticton riding.
Like many Okanagan mayors, I am just as adept in an orchard or garden as I am in council chambers and boardrooms.
Before my current role as the mayor of the District of Summerland, I served four years on council.
I grew up in Summerland, where my interest in horticulture and determination to conserve water for the Okanagan landscape led me to launch and operate Grasslands Nursery. Previously, I co-owned and operated Kettle Valley Dried Fruit Co.
I have also taught landscape horticulture at Okanagan College, served on multiple regional boards and represent my community on several regional governing bodies.
I raised two sons in Summerland and spend time most days walking local trails with my husband Steve and our dog, Ranger.
I have shown that I will stand up for others and have long been an advocate for inclusivity.
This past May, I was named by local media as one of the top leaders in the valley and was honoured to have won the Chamber’s Business Excellence Award as Sustainability Leader of the Year.
I love my current role; it is a privilege and an honour to serve the people of Summerland.
Regional systems and collaboration are crucial and working at a provincial level is the best way I can advocate for the communities in this region.
I know the devastating impacts the pandemic has had on everyone – especially those who struggle day to day.
I’ve spent my life working for sustainability and want to be part of a team that ensures that people and the environment are priorities as we plan for recovery.
I know John Horgan is the right person to lead the province during these challenging times.
As part of his team, I will ensure our region’s voices are represented in government.
What are your reasons for running in this election?
I have seen first hand from my work with local non-profits, on the council and as mayor of Summerland, how the decisions and resources that can make the most difference in our community rest at the provincial level. This includes investments in housing, childcare, infrastructure, schools, health care and seniors’ care. It also includes policy decisions on agriculture and the stimulation of our local economy.
I believe I can be a strong local voice working alongside John Horgan and his team in government to lead a recovery that reflects the needs of our region. I’m confident British Columbians will choose the steady leadership the NDP has provided over the past three and a half years. We need a seat at the table to propose solutions, not just sit in opposition critiquing them.
I’ve led a successful council and I want to provide a connection from my local networks to those I’ve made in Victoria to continue to fight for all people in our region.
What do you believe to be the three most important issues for the riding?
Overwhelmingly, I hear from our residents that their number one concern is affordability — a range of affordable housing options, affordable childcare, affordable services. From young professionals to seniors, the housing crisis is significant in the South Okanagan. We have seen record investments in housing from our NDP government after years of BC Liberal neglect. Similar investments have been made in the services we rely upon like childcare and healthcare.
Another concern that is top of mind with those I speak to is our changing climate. Our agricultural roots and hot climate make this issue crucial. From wildfires to floods, we know that climate change is a major threat to our region and our economy. I’m proud that the NDP has launched one of the strongest climate plans in North America. Much of the work I have championed in my private and public work has been around sustainability and conservation. I want to strengthen the work the BC NDP is doing and ensure our unique challenges in the South Okanagan are addressed.
While there are many more issues I hear about in our communities, over the past seven months, COVID-19 has dominated everyone’s concerns. I’m proud of the good work the NDP has done to keep numbers low and British Columbians safe. We need a stable government that continues to put people first—now is not the time for cuts to services we rely upon.
I trust John Horgan and his team to get us through this pandemic and lead a just recovery.
What works have you done for the community prior to deciding to run for election?
I have been serving my community most of my adult life. As a small business owner, my work complemented sustainable agriculture and created landscapes for our dry climate.The community-focused nature of those successful businesses led me to wanting to serve in a public capacity.
My time serving on the district of Summerland’s council and as its mayor has been a privilege. I have served for six years as a director for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board, and on the Okanagan Basin Water Board, Grasslands Conservation Council, and the South Okanagan Women in Need Society.
In my many roles I have enjoyed championing progressive projects on affordable housing, protecting watersheds, alternative energy, rehabilitation of trails and recreation infrastructure, inclusivity, physical and mental wellness, and support for the arts and culture community.
On a more personal note, I am a long-time member of the Summerland United Church and miss my monthly volunteer work playing piano for chapel services at both Summerland seniors centres.
I’m also proud to be part of our region’s vast and committed volunteer army that makes events like Ironman, Granfondo and the United Way Drive-Thru Breakfast possible.
I’m passionate about community service and want to continue to serve the best way I can.