Nancy Bepple’s career in civic politics should be remembered most for its focus on people
WEDNESDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — Nancy Bepple is known for banjo music and pay raises for council.
She was a lot more than that, and people will, hopefully, remember her as a whole politician, not just the one whose name was associated with those two things.
Bepple’s resignation from Kamloops City council was announced Tuesday afternoon by Mayor Peter Milobar at the start of the regular weekly council meeting. While there are no details, poor health is the stated reason.
Indeed, Bepple has been ill for several weeks. She missed several meetings, returned to the council table, then missed several more before Tuesday’s announcement.
As an Armchair Mayor editorial said last week about politicians, deciding to retire is a difficult situation. It’s hard if you’re defeated at the polls. It’s hard when you retire after a good long run at politics. But it must be toughest when you have to leave politics before you’re ready.
Bepple took longer than most of her council colleagues to confirm that she would run again in the November civic election, mainly, she said, because of arrangements that had to be made with her employer, Thompson Rivers University.
It was no surprise when she confirmed she’d be in the race again. Then came Tuesday.
“It has been a huge honour to serve the people of Kamloops,” she stated after the news came out. “My fellow councillors are dedicated and full of integrity, living by Council’s principles to be responsive and accountable. I have great respect for the outstanding staff at the City of Kamloops and will miss working with them for the betterment of this community.”
Bepple, who served two terms on council, led the movement on council to establish handsome pay raises, saying council members needed more money to make it worthwhile to take time off their regular jobs in the cause of public service, and pointing out that the Kamloops council is paid less than most in the province.
And, she has defended those new parking kiosks — the ones most people hate.
But it’s the reason she defends them that should be noted. One of the biggest problems with them is that the screens are so low anyone of normal height has to bend and squint to see into them.
Bepple, though, believes it’s more important that people in wheelchairs can see them than that others have to bend a little. She is a staunch advocate of the disabled.
From the time she first entered politics, Bepple has also spoken out loudly for the needs of seniors. When she first ran for office, the diminutive Bepple would get up at election forums and announce, “I’m standing up for the little people.”
She’s worked hard, too, on several committees of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities — one on environmental issues, one on northern issues, another on socio-economic development, and another on increasing women’s participation in municipal government.
And, like other councillors, she has been on a plethora of local committees.
She received her share of public criticism for some of the things she said, and some of it was deserved, but her work ethic can’t be questioned. Nor can her dedication to her core political value — trying to do good for people.
Which brings us back to banjo music. Bepple loves banjo music, and readily provides a verbal dissertation on its history to anyone who is interested. At the heart of it is the fact that the banjo has always been a working person’s instrument.
It’s that focus on people that should be remembered from her time in politics. The rest is just stuff.
Sorry to hear that Nancy is ill. I hope she has a speedy recovery. That being said, she was never cut out to be a politician, and her attitude towards the taxpayer stunk. It is too bad that illness forced her to retire, but I am glad that she did.