Incumbent Kevin Acton (left) and mayoral challenger Brad Weston answered questions from the floor at an all-candidates forum at the White Valley Community Centre in Lumby Monday, Sept. 26, hosted by the Lumby Chamber of Commerce. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Incumbent Kevin Acton (left) and mayoral challenger Brad Weston answered questions from the floor at an all-candidates forum at the White Valley Community Centre in Lumby Monday, Sept. 26, hosted by the Lumby Chamber of Commerce. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Lumby mayoral candidates face off

Incumbent Kevin Acton and challenger Brad Weston part of village all-candidates forum Sept. 26

Brad Weston gave an honest and humorous answer when asked why he was running for mayor of Lumby with no political experience, and not for a councillor to get a feel for how municipal politics work.

Weston is challenging four-term incumbent mayor Kevin Acton in the Oct. 15 municipal election, and the pair took part along with those running for council in an all-candidates forum Monday, Sept. 26, at the White Valley Community Centre.

“I honestly thought Kevin wasn’t going to run,” chuckled Weston during his answer to the question from the floor. “I heard during the last couple of years that Kevin wasn’t running and I thought this was a position that nobody would run for. I’m jumping in with both feet.”

But not without a lot of thought behind his decision, he said.

“No, I don’t have experience in politics but I have sat on many boards, including the CEO of my successful paving company,” said Weston. “I’ve also followed politics quite a bit. I’ve watched a lot of council meetings so I know the system inside and out…I have a lot of knowledge that I can bring to the table.”

Acton, acclaimed in the last two municipal votes in 2014 and 2018, showed his humorous side as well, answering a question from the floor directed to him about the condition of village roads, with the commenter noting the road the mayor lives on has been paved several times.

“Thank you for directing the roads question directly to me, I really appreciate it,” smiled Acton. “I can tell you this is always an issue for a small town. Building a kilometre of road in a small village is the exact same cost as building a kilometre of road in Kelowna. Kelowna gets a one per cent tax increase, that’s a million bucks in their pocket. For us, it’s $9,000.

“Our public works guys work their butts off to try and keep the roads as good as they can. I jokingly told people on Maple Street who wanted speed bumps just wait long enough and we’ll get you some inverted ones. The reality is we have a program for streets. Public works foreman goes out every year, drives the entire town, looks for the problems, makes a list of priorities and they get done in priority.”

Weston told the crowd he has a 46-point platform including point 6 – eliminating property taxes for homeowners within two years (of being elected). That drew a question from Acton’s wife, Gen Acton, acclaimed Lumby school board trustee, who wondered where money for the village would come from.

“When it comes to taxes, taxes are voluntary. You’re voluntarily paying taxes to the government,” said Weston, adding that the “federal government takes 50 per cent of the property tax dollars, and 40-to-42 per cent goes to the provincial government and the community takes eight-to-10 per cent of those dollars.”

“So we have the federal and provincial governments utilizing those tax dollars to do whatever they choose to do,” he continued. “…How we would get away from taxes is to introduce an at-cost pay-for-service fee within our community. It’s something that can be structured, something to sit down with council and talk about. It’s definitely possible…”

Acton took exception to a question from the floor about Lumby “being invisible” to B.C. Transit, after the commenter stated that a phone call she made to the organization about transit service and schedules was greeted with a ‘Where is Lumby?’ response at the other end of the line.

“I can guarantee you, maybe the person you spoke to in Victoria doesn’t know where we are, but I sit on the strategic planning board with B.C. Transit, I’ve had many conversations with them, we’ve had meetings with them at the regional district (of North Okanagan, where Acton is board chair),” he said. “I’ve talked to the district manager for this area, he’s been out here for dinner. They know exactly where we are.”

The forum, hosted by the Lumby Chamber of Commerce, was attended by close to 100 people and lasted the fully scheduled two hours and moderated by chamber board chair Dwayne Hackett.

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