Williams Lake has elected a new mayor and four new city councillors.
Former city councillor Surinderpal Rathor received 1,091 votes in the 2022 general election Saturday, Oct. 15 to become mayor-elect, beating out three opponents, including incumbent Walt Cobb who was seeking a third consecutive term.
In the race for mayor, Cobb garnered 773 votes, incumbent city councillor Jason Ryll garnered 898 votes and former mayor and councillor Kerry Cook received 427.
Incumbent councillors Sheila Boehm, with 1,557 votes, and Scott Nelson, with 1,485 votes, were re-elected, while incumbents Marnie Brenner, Ivan Bonnell and Craig Smith who were also seeking re-election were replaced by newcomers Angie Delainey, with 1,403 votes, Joan Flaspohler, with 1,831 votes, Jazmyn Lyons, with 1,357 votes and Michael Moses, with 1,485 votes. Candidate John Pickford garnered 838 votes.
See declaration of official results here.
The results come following a year of strained relations with Williams Lake First Nation and other Indigenous leaders in the region.
“Change is what the people wanted. Change is what the people got,” WLFN Chief Willie Sellars told Black Press when asked how he felt about the election results. “Looking forward to working with this mayor and city council.”
Tsilhqot’in National Government tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse said he thinks Rathor was a fine candidate and is going to do a good job for Williams Lake.
“We’re really excited for all the changes that are happening and sees this as a great opportunity to begin having a relationship with the city of Williams Lake,” Alphonse said. “We needed a change and we look forward to officially sitting down with the city.”
After serving 21 years consecutively on city council, Rathor ran for mayor in 2014 and 2018, losing to Cobb both times.
Once the votes were counted Saturday evening, and it became apparent that three times was the charm, Rathor’s family and supporters gathered at his home for a victory party in the backyard where there was music, food and jubilation.
His grandson Dj Parmar, 16, told the Tribune Williams Lake had made history by voting in its first person of colour to be the mayor.
The outgoing council will have its last regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25 and the new council will be sworn in on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Rathor said his first point of business will be to let First Nation communities in the region know the city wants to work with them.
He also wants to promote Williams Lake, attract new businesses, investment, and professionals.
“I want to build new amenities that will be helpful to raise a family, work and enjoy this community.”
Thanking the community for giving him the opportunity to serve in a different capacity, Rathor said he will do his “utmost to represent the community strongly and fairly and in the overall best interest of the entire community.”
Incumbent Sheila Boehm said she feels very privileged and overwhelmed by the support she received from the community of Williams Lake.
“The people have decided on a new direction forward and I am looking forward to building relationships and working with the new council for the best interest of everyone,” Boehm said.
Councillor-elect Angie Delainey thanked everyone who worked on the election and said she is ‘stoked’ to have received enough support to join a ‘great group’ at the city. Acclaimed as a school trustee, Delainey also ran for Ca riboo Regional District Area E director , which she lost to Melynda Neufeld.
“I’m grateful for the experience at the CRD and enjoyed working with the board of directors and know that the skills and connections I’ve gained over the past term as a director and a trustee will serve me well as I take on the role of city councillor.”
Former deputy fire chief Joan Flaspohler meanwhile said she is really excited she was successful in the election.
“Ultimately it’s a clear indication that within my campaign I have presented items the community is interested in and support . Once I am in this official position I will do everything in my power to maintain the campaign items I presented and make sure Williams Lake moves forward in the position of being a community leader in this province.”
She also wants to ensure there is transparency, honesty and positive gain for the community and “the community alone.”
Jazmyn Lyons said she was grateful to everyone that offered their support.
“Congratulations to my co-council and our new mayor. I am looking forward to learning everything I can and hope I’m an efficient member of council.”
Michael Moses said he ran a campaign where he connected with the community and met with local leaders and influencers to find out the needs of the city.
For more than a year he attended city council meetings and said he is excited to continue the “good work that the prior city councils have done.”
“If we can continue and build on that I would be really proud.”
He said he would like the opportunity to be part of the Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Committee, which was established by Cobb, and continue the work it had started.
Nelson thanked the community, adding “it’s an honour and I’m humbled. I’m looking forward to working with team Williams Lake.”
Outgoing Williams Lake mayor Walt Cobb said he is disappointed in the election results and turnout.
When asked if he wanted to say anything to the new council, he responded “absolutely not.”
“I do want to say thank you to all my supporters and everyone who helped on my campaign for sure.”