Kevin LePape is running for director of Area F in the Regional District of Central Kootenay this fall, but you won’t catch him posting any lawn signs.
“I loathe election signs,” he says. “I think they are a wretched eyesore and an insult to the landscape.” Plus he doesn’t think they do much good.
He will, however, send out a flyer by mail, launch a website at sensiblerdck.com, and knock on as many doors as he can between now and November 15.
LePape, a Johnstone Road resident, has been a vocal critic of several regional district decisions, including the purchase of office furniture from an out-of-town company at a higher price than a local bidder.
He was also stunned when a budget touted as containing virtually no tax increase socked homeowners within the Nelson recreation commission catchment area with a hefty bill to fix the aquatic centre ceiling.
The work and the tax hike, he concluded, were necessary, but he remained concerned that it wasn’t well communicated to residents and that the facility had very limited reserves.
Only recently did he seriously consider seeking office himself, although others encouraged him, based in part on his letters to the editor.
“The first time I heard ‘You ought to run’ I laughed and said ‘You can’t be serious’ because I’m not sure I’m the right personality. I have considerable skills to bring to the boardroom table but often worry about my ability to work with other people.”
LePape describes himself as an “independent, two-plus-two-equals-four, entrepreneurial thinker” who gets frustrated in a bureaucratic environment. But he reconciled those feelings before deciding to run. “I had to get over that and I think I have,” he says. “I don’t see it as a problem anymore.”
He also sounded out some incumbent directors to ensure they can function alongside each other if elected. “I actually asked a number of people at the table ‘I’ve rubbed you the wrong way. Can we still work together?’ They said ‘Oh yes, sure. We have no problem.’ It’s the same with me.”
At the risk of sounding like he’s running a negative campaign, LePape says he actually thinks much of the regional district functions well and he’s not interested in blaming anyone for earlier decisions, nor reversing them — the controversial furniture he railed against has already been installed.
However, he would like to see changes to procurement and spending policies as well as reduced board and administration expenses.
He also worries about the financial burden placed on small water systems forced to meet Interior Health standards, and wonders if the regional district could help them with some form of community financing.
“I’m not a regular politician,” he says. “My mantra is ‘sensible.’ There needs to be a change at the boardroom table, a different approach. Somebody who is a little simpler and pragmatic.”
LePape, 57, was born and raised in Montreal and made his living as a self-employed industrial warehouse and packing equipment and supplies distributor. He vacationed in the Nelson area many times before retiring here from Kelowna with his partner six years ago.
His entry into the Area F race guarantees residents will have a choice on the ballot: retired Nelson teachers union president Tom Newell is also seeking the position.
LePape said he respects and gets along well with Newell, “but we are coming at this from completely different places.”
Incumbent Ron Mickel is retiring after two terms.