Former councillor Helen Kormendy has been returned to Ashcroft council, following a by-election held on September 17. The by-election was made necessary by the resignation of former councillor Al Mertens in June.
Kormendy, who served three terms as a councillor from 2005 to 2014, did not run in the 2014 general election. She was one of five candidates vying for the vacant council seat, and received 207 votes out of 420 votes cast. The other candidates were Sheila Corneillie (82 votes); David Durksen (60); Christopher Roden (38); and Donald Cram (33).
“I’m honoured and humbled,” says Kormendy. “I feel people have confidence in me. I’m here to listen, and hope people feel as open as they did during the campaign.” She acknowledges the importance of open communication between council and residents, and is looking forward complying a large part in that.
She says that residents raised a number of issues with her during the campaign, and she plans to bring these to council. Transparency and leadership were two of these issues, while another was a feeling that when issues are presented to council decisions are not being made. “There was a sense that people thought things were being left. We’re here to help citizens understand why decisions are made.”
Kormendy was a member of the council that developed the water master plan which enabled the village to obtain a grant of $5.7 million towards the construction of a new water treatment plant. She says that she is thrilled that the borrowing bylaw, enabling the village to borrow up to $4.1 million for its share of the plant, was approved at the referendum on September 17.
“When I went door to door people said that now they understood and that this was going to happen no matter what. The issue for many people was that they didn’t understand, and when they understood the financial implications was when they really took notice. People wanted to know all along about the process.
“I’m super excited that it’s going to happen.”
Ashcroft mayor Jack Jeyes notes that Kormendy is an experienced councillor, and thinks that experience gave her an advantage during the campaign.
“While I think the field was a strong one, a significant portion of voters felt that she was the candidate of choice.” He adds, however, that he is disappointed that the by-election—held on the same day as the referendum regarding the village’s borrowing bylaw—did not attract more voters.
“My hope was that because there were two separate issues [to be voted on], it would attract more people, but that was not the case,” he says, adding that both events were held on the same day to reduce costs. “Also, by holding the vote in September we hoped to get more people out, but again that was not the case.”
He says that he is looking forward to having Kormendy as part of council. “I know from past experience that she will be a very diligent worker who will listen, and act in a balanced way.”
Kormendy says it is important to make decisions that are sustainable and which look to the future. “The electorate in Ashcroft has such incredible diversity, and a wealth of knowledge that will only be helpful to the community. I’m looking forward to moving ahead.”