Kiara Lynch

Kiara Lynch

Senate seat, Rick Mercer and a golden ticket

While the regional district chair and Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling would pass on a senate seat, she wants to take up the Voter Challenge.

Imagine Canadian celebrity Rick Mercer sauntering through your town as he records one of his famous rants. That’s one of the prizes the Kootenay Community Voter Challenge is negotiating for the community that has the highest increase in voter turn out in the upcoming federal election this October.

Challenge representative Kiara Lynch spoke to the Regional District of Central Kootenay inviting the 20 directors to register their communities in the non-partisan challenge.

“A challenge is not a challenge without challengees,” said Lynch, who added suggested rewards include a seat in the senate for the mayor of the community with the highest increase in voter turn-out or a golden ticket to local attractions.

Board chair and Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling said she’s up for the challenge. “But if Nakusp wins, I would not like to win a seat in the senate,” she said to the laughter of her fellow board members.

Area G director Hans Cunningham was in favour of anything that encourages voting. “We would like to participate,” he said, but was uncertain if federal election voting would allow for Ymir residents to be counted separate from their Salmo voting station. Lynch confirmed that they can extrapolate the data.

The winner of the challenge will be the community which can show the greatest percentage increase in voter participation over the results from the 2011 Federal election. By using percentages rather than voter counts, communities of different populations can still fairly compete.

Rural Kaslo director Aimee Watson said: “I want a better representative government. I suggest that better representation is the reward.”

Lynch said the upcoming federal election is the perfect opportunity to encourage democratic process.

Director Deb Kozak has accepted the challenge in her role as Nelson mayor with the Nelson City Council.

“I want to throw down the white gloves,” said director Kozak.

The driving force behind this challenge is to get people interested in voting to the point where they register and get to the voting stations on Oct. 19.

Feedback has also spurred an offer from Tiny Lights Festival founder and executive director Carla Stevenson.

“I not only want to take this challenge on for Ymir but I also will donate two tickets to the Tiny Lights Festival 2016 to the winning community!” she wrote.