Get to know Revelstoke’s 2022 local election candidates

In round one of the election Q&A series, candidates answer two questions to help voters get to know them and what they stand for.

File photo: City hall. Photo: Nora Hughes

Candidates for city council, mayor, and school district 19 trustee have four weeks until election day on Oct. 15, 2022.

On Sept. 9, 2022, 12 city council and two mayor candidates declared their spots in the 2022 local government election. Friday, Sept. 16 was the last day to withdraw from the running, and two candidates for city council did so. Following the last day to withdraw from the election, 10 candidates for city council remain.

Find the full declaration of candidates and nomination packages here.

The Revelstoke Mountaineer’s question and answer series with city council candidates cover a wide variety of issues that are likely to be central to the upcoming municipal election on Oct. 15, 2022. The series features verbatim answers written by the candidates themselves. The questions were created by the Mountaineer’s multimedia community reporter, Nora Hughes.

Welcome to the first round of the Mountaineer’s question and answer series with the city council and mayor candidates.

To start off the series, we asked candidates to answer the following:

  1. Who are you as a community member, and why did you decide to run for city councillor/mayor of Revelstoke?
  2. If elected, how do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making processes in our town?

Here are the responses from the candidates who got back to us prior to our publication deadline:

Lee Devlin (candidate for council)

Lee Devlin is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Lee Devlin
  1. Lee Devlin. Local born guy. Cook by trade. Part-time trivia and/or karaoke host. Avid Facebook debater. That about sums me up as a person, I think.

As for why I’m running? I think a lot of long-time locals, myself included, feel frustrated at the lack of transparency and communication from City Council. We’ve been seeing prices go up, and not as many results as we’d like on the key issues of affordability and housing in this town. I decided I could keep complaining about it, or I could try to do something about it, so here I am.

I think it’s important for people to feel passionate and proud when it comes to local government, and Revelstoke citizens have been lacking that for a while, for good reason. I hope I can be part of the Council that fixes that.

2. I think the keys to involving community are transparency and communication with people. I honestly don’t think past Councils have been great with that. I think it’s important for everyone to know what is being voted on and when, and it should be presented both before and after any decisions are made. All members of city government are there to serve the people, and to represent their interests rather than their own. We not only need to talk to the people, but also listen when they talk and engage with them whether we personally agree with their issues or not.

Rushda Rubaia (candidate for council)

Rushda Rubaua is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo Rushda Rubaia
  1. Coming from a collective society, I have always been a “peoples person”. I have always been involved in the community through different organizations (mostly non-profit). Since high school, I have been a leader. As this town has been very generous to me, I would love to offer my leadership skills for the advancement of this community.
  2. I am a fan of coffee/tea meetups. So far, I have already met 50+ locals or so. There’s no better way than talking to everyone in the community one-on-one. I always make sure, I am up-to-date with the current issues of our town and ask everyone how they would like them solved. I believe, it’s not fair to assume the solution to a particular problem as a leader. Because my personal approach may not be the best approach for the rest of us because we are all unique individuals. That’s why I believe it’s good to consult with everybody and then I can use my networking and organizational skills to talk to the right person to identify, analyze and solve the issues. There are also platforms like Facebook and Talk Revelstoke that are used online for public opinions on local issues. I try to stay upto date with those too.

Gary Sulz (candidate for mayor)

Gary Sulz is running for Mayor of Revelstoke. Photo: Gary Sulz
  1. I am currently the Mayor of Revelstoke and I have lived and worked in this community as the funeral director for many decades. As a funeral director, I have learned about patience, compassion and service. This has helped me to understand people’s concerns and put them into perspective. I am running for re-election to continue the successful work that I have been involved in over the last four years. I have worked hard to build many relationships and want to continue to work in collaboration with those groups and individuals for the thriving progression of our community. I am looking forward to fostering new relationships and partnerships for the betterment of all residents. Giving back to the community is what I have always strived to do.
  2. During my current term we have brought in TalkRevelstoke as an engagement platform on the City website for residents to give their input. This has proven to be a valuable communications tool. I will continue to use this worthwhile platform to receive the opinions and requests from the citizens of Revelstoke so that I may make decisions for the benefit of the entire community. Engagement is important and I am brave enough to listen to what community members say. We need to remember where we came from and be cognizant of where we are going based on what residents feel is best for the community as a whole. As proven over the last four years, my door is always open.

John Hordyk (candidate for council)

John Hordyk is running for a seat on Revelstoke city councol. Photo: John Hordyk
  1. I’ve lived in Revelstoke for 6 years and have come to call this place home. I’ve been a member of the City of Revelstoke Environmental Advisory Committee and the Curling Club executive, and am currently on the Rod and Gun Club executive. I’ve also volunteered for dig nights for the mountain bike trails, helped out at the Revelstoke Grizzlies games, assisted with the Revelstoke Adaptive Sports Program, and have lent a hand now and then at the Legion. My trade has been water and wastewater treatment, so I have quite a bit of municipal government experience that would help me hit the ground running. My main concern is housing insecurity. Too many people who grew up here had to move away. Many of the workers we interact with throughout our day here have no idea when they might be priced out of the rental market. I grew up in a rural town and know the importance of community. Being an active part of Revelstoke and giving back is very important to me, and I hope I can continue to do this as a City Councillor.
  2. In the previous council, some councillors made very effective use of social media like Facebook to directly interact with the citizens of Revelstoke. I would absolutely continue to engage with people on platforms like this. I would also encourage people to interact on talkrevelstoke.ca. At talkrevelstoke.ca, people can get information “from the horse’s mouth.” Many people seem to have opinions that are based in misinformation. The city needs to push information to people, so they can see what the city is planning to do. Informed citizens help draw great ideas from all walks of life.

Aaron Orlando (candidate for council)

Aaron Orlando is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Aaron Orlando

1. Hi! My name is Aaron Orlando. I’ve lived in Revelstoke since 2008 and served as a Revelstoke City Councillor from 2014-2018, but I did not seek re-election in 2018 due to time commitments. I am two-time Spirit of Revelstoke award recipient recognized for my volunteer leadership in community organizations. I was a key organizer for the group that built Revelstoke’s Kovach Park skatepark (Columbia Valley Skateboard Association), a founding board member of downtown co-working space Mountain CoLab. My volunteer and board appointments include Revelstoke Community Housing Society, Revelstoke Community Foundation, Stoke FM Radio Society, and many other committee roles.

I work as an instructor and professor at Okanagan College in Revelstoke. I am the owner, creative director, and editor at Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine and revelstokemountaineer.com. If elected, I will divest myself of the Mountaineer.

I graduated from the University of British Columbia (BA) and the University of Wollongong (MJ).

I am seeking election because I believe Revelstoke’s engaged residents make our beautiful community one of the best places in B.C. to live and raise a family. I’m committed to stewarding our community and leaving Revelstoke better for future generations.

2. Improved communications and equitable community engagement are two key points on my 10-point platform, which you can read at www.aaronorlando.ca.

I feel the City of Revelstoke needs to modernize its communications and engagement tools, such as adopting an opt-in, service-focused weekly email newsletter.

The city can build trust by consistently engaging residents, based on the principle that if a resident wants to be engaged, they can sign up and not be left out of key engagement opportunities. Inexpensive communications tools are available and will save the city money. Municipalities that have adopted these tools enjoy better resident engagement and save on advertising costs and external communication contractor costs. Most importantly, they save on the huge financial and organizational costs of poor communications and disengagement.

Critically, the city needs to get control of its engagement data to measure performance. I will work to drive these easily achievable, cost-saving communications improvements.

As an individual councillor, I have a track record of engaging with constituents. When I served from 2014-2018, I did regular social media updates, including short videos explaining issues and reaching out to connect with residents, making myself available for public or private questions and consultation. I will continue those practices.

Tim Stapenhurst (candidate for council)

Tim Stapenhurst is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Tim Stapenhurst

1. Hi- My name is Tim Stapenhurst. I live in Revelstoke with my wife, and my two daughters, Jojo and Madi. We have lived here for almost 7 years after leaving Washington, DC where I worked for the Prince George’s County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. I always wanted to come home to Canada and Revelstoke was my preferred city to live in. I had previously lived in the area as a whitewater rafting guide/ski bum attending the Adventure Tourism program at the College of the Rockies. I’ve lived in Golden, Whistler, Vancouver, Victoria, and Kananaskis country (Does anyone remember Fortress Ski Hill??). I`ve also lived in Ethiopia, Uganda, and the USA.

Revelstoke has been an amazing place to raise our family- but it is not always easy and it is certainly not cheap. I’m running for Council to help make sure this does not get any harder for the residents. I want council to make decisions that will benefit the community. We have so much to preserve, maintain and so much more work to do. We need to strengthen our indigenous relations, work to develop housing, address food security, safety, child care, and work to preserve the environment, to name just a few. As a Councilor, I can draw upon over a decade of experience working in local government, with a particular focus on public safety. My duties in the fire department also involved the delivery of pre-hospital care and I have witnessed the challenges that the healthcare system is going through. If I am elected Councilor, the community will benefit from my considerable experience in public service, working within a unionized environment, working with volunteers and both implementing government policies and programs and following standard operating procedures.

2. If I am elected Councilor, I will always be available- by phone, email, and social media account. If you have a concern, no matter how big or small, I will listen and take action. I have been fortunate to have already met so many members of the community – I look forward to meeting many others. Whether you vote for me or not, I will work hard to make your views heard and acted upon by Council Stapenhurst4Council@gmail.com 250-814-9459 https://www.facebook.com/TimStapenhurstRevelsotkeCouncilcandidate/

Austin Luciow (candidate for council)

Austin Luciow is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Austin Luciow

1. I am the Kitchen Manager of the Neighbourhood Kitchen a Project of Community Connections, making meals for Revelstoke’s Food Bank Clients. I work with Bear Aware and their gleaning project to process the abundance of fruit available in town to bake for the School Breakfast Programs for all schools. I am the Chef of the Big Eddy Pub, on the Begbie View Elementary Parental Advisory Council and District Parental Advisory Council, and a Board Member of the Revelstoke Youth Soccer Association. You may have also seen me around collecting food recovery from the LFI farmers market or coaching soccer down at Centennial Fields.

I chose to run for city councilor to offer the residents a chance for representation for renters, parents, and food service industry that is a large section of the town. I feel these next four years will be very important in the growth and development of the town, as well as its environmental sustainability. I want to be apart of the decisions that need to be made. I have made this wonderful town home for the last six years and want to help it grow and be the benchmark other BC towns are compared to.

2. If chosen for City Council, I would like to remain involved in the community to better understand the issues that face Revelstoke residents. I will be posting on social media to lay out the facts we have gathered for both sides on an issue, and outline the decision that needs to be made. I would encourage people to contact me to explain their thoughts on a matter that may directly affect them, as well as help to educate them by explaining the bigger picture of the issue at hand.

In this digital age, I would want a better online engagement strategy from the City to allow people to be informed about decision that have and are going to be made, and a way to bring issues towards the city in a way that is listened to and acted on. I would also want to organize bi-annual open engagement session for the public to be able to talk to the Mayor, CAO, and Councilors’ in person to share their issues and concerns.

Matt Cherry (candidate for council)

Matt Cherry is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Matt Cherry

1. I fell in love with the beauty of Revelstoke and the surrounding area when I visited in 2007. I continued to visit Revelstoke every year until I finally purchased a home and moved here over a decade ago.

Once living here, I started my own property management business focused on long term rentals for our community, our employers, and our working class in Revelstoke. I also work full time in the housing construction and home component manufacturing industry keeping me up to date and involved in the community.

I am currently on the Advisory Planning Commission for the City of Revelstoke and the Revelstoke & Area B Economic Development Commission. Moreover, I am on the Economic Development Commission working group on “strategy planning process”. I am actively involved with City Council, development public hearings and issues on Talk Revelstoke clearly showing my commitment to the town and passion for working to help it grow. I run the Revy Rentals and the Revelstoke Tool Share Facebook page as well helping community members find what they need.

I have experienced heartbreak, friendship, loss, love and frustrations as so many others in town and it has truly become my home. I have decided to run for council as I believe my experience, knowledge and active research and data will be key assets in helping to solve many of Revelstoke’s issues.

I want to be the voice of the many who don’t feel heard.

2. If elected I want to look to the past for all that was done well, the present for changes we need and can make right away and the future for all that Revy can become!

We had some examples from two former council members who were well spoken and well engaged with the public. I appreciated that they explained their decision-making process through social media as to keep the community well involved. Steve Cross, while I disagreed with some views such as housing, always made himself available outside of his work and family life to discuss both his and my point of view.  If elected I will bring back this avenue of social media community engagement so the community can be kept in the loop and understand the decision process and outcome.

Our development procedures by law need to be updated; public input needs to be at the forefront of this process. Whereas right now the public isn’t finding out about a development until the back end, after 1st and 2nd reading sometimes  12 months down the line of the process. This needs to change and public hearings need to be scheduled during time slots which will enable the largest community involvement possible.

It should be noted that the City of Revelstoke engagement platform TalkRevelstoke.ca is up and running. I encourage those in our community to get themselves involved by filling out the surveys.

If elected and while running for office, I encourage our community to reach out to by phone or email, I will always make myself available.

I strive to be among the people and for the people and I hope to become your councillor!

Tim Palmer (candidate for council)

Tim Palmer is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Tim Palmer
  1. Living in Revelstoke over the past 12+ years has afforded me fulfilling life of recreational pursuits and personal development. Revelstoke’s youthful spirit continues to inspire me to enjoy nature through alpine hiking, Nordic skiing, and other outdoor pursuits. Since I was elected in a by-election early last year, the bulk of my time is spent in council activates including the council representative with the Chamber of Commerce, Revelstoke Accommodation Association, tourism initiative, finance committee and Liquid Waste Management Committee. Those elected to municipal council in October face the troublesome trend of one-term councillors. If elected I will be the only person returning as a councillor to provide some continuity for the next four years. I have the time fully engage in council activities, a challenge often faced by councillors with full time jobs or businesses. With the skills, knowledge and expertise of over 30 years working directly with BC municipalities, a quality that no other candidate can match, you can have confidence there is someone holding both council and staff accountable.
  2. Diminishing public engagement is a major task the new council needs to correct. I plan to encourage the new council to overhaul the city’s committees and engagement structure. What we have today is broken. Lip service is given to improve city communications, but it continues to be top down, sporadic and incomplete. Correcting the city’s communications must be a priority to ensure we LISTEN to residents and RESPOND accordingly. Another priority is to undertake an action oriented strategic plan. At the last council I put forward a motion to for staff to engage a facilitator to undertake strategic planning with council as soon as possible. This will set the tone for council for the next four years.

Nicole Cherlet (candidate for mayor)

Nicole Cherlet is in the running for mayor of Revelstoke. Photo: Nicole Cherlet

1. I have been on City Council since 2018, asking questions and actively debating with my colleagues as we guided community engagement in several large planning documents on top of the everyday business of the council. I have been enthusiastic about attending conferences and workshops to bring our City’s voice to regional leaders as well as learn best practices and bring back ideas from other communities.

Before being elected, I was an active volunteer and board member at the Chamber of Commerce and Revelstoke Local Food Initiative. I have been honoured to represent and connect those communities and others to City Hall during my term, ensuring that Council policy directed more effective support as we navigated the last four wild years. As a tenant and up until recently a small business owner, I understand well the affordability crisis that has been building since well before this pandemic.

I decided to run for Mayor because I believe we can do more to share information and collaboratively work towards decisions. I have the skills and experience to guide this change in communications style at City Hall. We can do politics differently – to proactively find common ground rather than reactively fall into divisiveness.

2. City Council is making decisions that affect us all – and all of us should be privy to the background and rationale for those decisions. We can find a better balance to both meet reporting requirements and encourage more effective debate and timely engagement using the online tools we already have.

Our recent Official Community Plan (OCP) dug deep to understand our shared values as neighbours, and to set out and organise the necessary actions that will build a Revelstoke that is livable for generations to come.

As mayor, I will use that framework for building context and adapt the successful OCP engagement process to more of our policy work.

Imagine having access to the latest notes from Council Chambers on Talk Revelstoke, where you can search and browse to better understand the needs we’re trying to meet and what we’re deciding on next. Where you can see how much it should cost, and how we’re planning on paying for it.

When you meet with me or another leader, they’ll have access to that context, and will be able to match your needs and concerns with the relevant information. Clear and accessible information is key to good communication.

If you have any questions regarding the Mountaineer’s election Q&A series, please contact Nora Hughes at nora@revelstokemountaineer.com.

Nora Hughes is a recent graduate of the Thompson Rivers University Interdisciplinary Program, where she combined her passions for Adventure Tourism, Communications and Journalism. With a strong interest in community news, Nora is passionate about giving a voice and face to the people of Revelstoke through storytelling.