A look at longtime Kootenay politicians

Trail mayor Dieter Bogs, who recently mused about retirement, is the West Kootenay/Boundary’s longest serving mayor currently in office.

Dieter Bogs said this month he might not run for re-election next year. At over 15 years

Trail mayor Dieter Bogs, who recently mused about not seeking re-election, is the West Kootenay/Boundary’s longest serving mayor currently in office. In 2011, he also became Trail’s longest serving mayor ever.

“I am considering retiring,” Bogs told the Trail Times with one year left in his term. “But it is early to say. I’ve worked hard all these years so the most important thing is that the city is left in good hands.”

Bogs was first elected to the city’s top job in 1996 following a decade as a councillor and time as a school trustee before that. Sandy Santori narrowly defeated him in 1999 but Bogs returned in a by-election in 2001 after Santori resigned to run provincially, and has been mayor ever since — a total of 15 years and one month. If Bogs does pack it in next year, he’ll finish with 16 years and two months of service, tying him with Rossland’s Bill Profili as the 11th longest serving mayor in local history.

But he would have to spend more than twice as long wielding the gavel at the council table to equal Midway’s Jim McMynn, who was mayor for 38 consecutive years, from the village’s incorporation in 1967 until his retirement in 2005 — a Canadian record. He was returned 17 straight times, 14 by acclamation.

Next on the list is Peter Swan, mayor of Slocan for 27 years between 1919 and 1947. In 1931, he decided not to seek re-election, but no one else put their name forward, so council had to employ rarely-used legislation to appoint a mayor. Swan was conscripted back to his old job.

Combined, Willie Hearn and Merle Hanson served as Salmo’s mayor for 47 of its 67 years as a municipality — Hearn for 25 and Hanson for 22. Hanson is presently a councillor. Warfield’s Jim Nelson is also a councillor following a 15-year stint as mayor.

Gary Wright retired in 2011 after more than 22 years as mayor of New Denver and wrote a book.

While the list of long serving local mayors is dominated by men, there are three exceptions: Castlegar’s Audrey Moore, who served from 1977-93; Fruitvale’s Libby Nelson from 1996-2011; and Nakusp’s Rosemarie Johnson from 1987-99.

The longest serving councillor appears to be Trail’s Gord DeRosa at 27 consecutive years (he was briefly interim mayor in 2001).

The longest serving regional district director was John Voykin, who represented rural Castlegar from 1980 until his retirement in 2011. The longest serving director still in office is rural Salmo’s Hans Cunningham, first elected in 1986.

On the federal scene, Alex Atamanenko recently announced he won’t run again in 2015, which will cap his service as local Member of Parliament at nine years. He’d have to serve another 14 years to match the record of Bert Herridge, who represented Kootenay West from 1945-68. Herridge’s predecessor, Billy Esling, served for 20 years.

The longest serving MLA in our region was James Schofield, who represented the riding variously known as Ymir, Trail, and Rossland-Trail for 26 years, from 1907 to 1933. He had a highway named after him.

Randolph Harding spent 23 years as MLA for Kaslo-Slocan and Revelstoke-Slocan between 1945 and 1968, then served as Kootenay West MP from 1968-74, and mayor of Silverton from 1977-92 (a job he also held in 1967-68) — for a total of 44 years in politics.

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