Bepple found her way through many issues during her two terms as Kamloops councillor

ARMCHAIR MAYOR ANALYSIS — When Nancy Bepple announced her resignation from Kamloops City council, it left the council one person short at the table.

Council decided not to call a byelection to fill the vacancy because there are only a few months left until the civic election in November. In the meantime, decisions will be made by the remaining seven councillors and the mayor.

Bepple speaking at council meeting last term.

Bepple speaking at council meeting last term.

With an even number of votes, there’s always the potential for a tie on any decision, in which case a motion is considered defeated.

Aside from the implications for rules of order, the vacancy no doubt has a few people in town thinking seriously about running for a spot on council. Incumbents have a natural advantage over newcomers, and had Bepple not resigned it’s likely a full slate of incumbents would be facing hopeful first-timers.

Bepple was once of those hopefuls. In 2005, she finished in 10th place in the vote for councillors, two spots out of contention. She received 7, 480 votes that year and in the elections that followed, she didn’t do much better.

But with shifting voter turnout it was good enough. In 2008, she increased her numbers only slightly, to 7,690, landing in sixth spot and earning her first term as a City councillor.

Three years later, in 2011, she dropped to 7,257 but again came sixth and entered her second term.

“Banjo Nancy” as she was sometimes affectionately called because she plays that instrument — often at seniors care facilities for their entertainment — declared that her focus in that second term would be on seniors, people with disabilities, youth and children.

She followed through on that but many issues come before a City council and you often don’t get to pick them. Sometimes you do. She was generally onside with council’s disastrous handling of a parkade proposed for Riverside Park, for example.

Bepple declined to side with fellow councillor Denis Walsh when he tried to get support for a covenant limiting the height of the structure. It was defeated in a counter petition, a rare occurrence, and council had to decide whether to put it to a referendum or give up.

Bepple favoured a referendum, but council instead decided to call it a day.

You never know what’s going to come at you in a given week. When medical marijuana came up, she commented that if the City allows pig farms on agricultural land it should allow medical marijuana too. She sided with pesticide restrictions, and felt council should give backyard chickens a chance.

Bepple avoided the Ajax issue for most of her term, declaring a conflict of interest due to a personal relationship, but when that situation changed she continued to stay in the neutral zone.

In April 2013 she began talking about pay raises for councillors, saying they worked much harder than previous councillors had to work, and that they were basically making minimum wage.

Coun. Nelly Dever sided with her, and the matter was put to a civic committee to compare what other municipal councils in B.C. were making. When the results came back, council gave itself what amounts to a 40 per cent raise.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation ran a headline on its website that said, “Shame on Kamloops City Council.”

There are a couple of lessons in this for prospective candidates. One is that you can never assume anything about how an election will go. Sometimes the voters get mad at or tired of incumbents, sometimes the turnout affects the outcome, and once in awhile an issue comes along that can change everything.

Another is that while it’s good to have a clear sense of what you hope to accomplish in office, once you’re in you may find there’s a lot more to it than you expected.

About Mel Rothenburger (9652 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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