Karen Hamling (right) has been chosen as the new Regional District of Central Kootenay board chair. She is the first woman to hold the position. Lawrence Chernoff (left) was re-elected as vice-chair.

RDCK chooses first female chair

Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling was elected chair this morning. Castlegar mayor Lawrence Chernoff will once again serve as the vice chair.

At the inaugural meeting of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) board this morning, Karen Hamling was chosen as the first female chair in its 49-year history.

Hamling has been the mayor of Nakusp since 2005 and was recently re-elected. She defeated East Shore director Garry Jackman to become chair.

Hamling encouraged the board to “continue to work together for the benefit of our respective communities and residents.”

She thanked the board for giving her the honour.

“We have a lot of work to do. We’ve been set a good pace and I’m looking forward to working with everyone and I will sit down with each director to find out what their concerns are. You won’t find me doing a lot of debating during meetings. I’m here to run the meetings. I will have an opinion occasionally but I’m not here to debate your issues.”

She told the Star the she hopes people remember that everyone on the board is also a taxpayer.

She is joined by Castlegar mayor Lawrence Chernoff, who will once again serve as vice chair, after defeating rural Nelson director Ramona Faust.

By board policy, the elections are conducted by secret ballot and the totals are not made public.

Hamling replaces John Kettle, who did not run for re-election following 12 years as a director and four years as chair.

Hamling acknowledged both she and Chernoff are municipal representatives, but assured the board that both municipal and electoral areas would be “represented equally” at the table.

Hamling is the 11th chair in the regional district’s history. Her election comes on the heels of Deb Kozak’s election as mayor of Nelson — the first woman to hold the post in the city’s history.