A newcomer on council won an “overwhelming” number of votes during Saturday’s election.
Susan Spaeti is the newest councillor in the District of Kent, earning 974 votes in an electoral area where 1,418 people voted.
The show of support — about 68% of voters checked off her name — was more than she’d expected, she said this week.
“I’m a little overwhelmed,” she said. “Everyone I talked to said they were voting for me, but I never expected that.”
Spaeti was born and raised in Agassiz, and graduated from UFV. She and her husband Benno have a construction company, and are raising their two young sons in Agassiz.
While Spaeti is new to council, she is not new to local politics. She is a member of the Kent Agricultural Advisory Committee, the fundraising committee for the recreation centre expansion project, a Parents Advisory Council chair, and a member of the District PAC.
She has also been attending council meetings regularly over the past year and a half, and worked previously for the Village of Harrison Hot Springs.
Spaeti said she’s looking forward to getting to work as a councillor. The inauguration for all of council and mayor is on Dec. 1.
“There’s so much to learn,” she said. “And it’s so exciting to be able to represent the town you grew up in.”
John Van Laerhoven will remain the mayor of The District of Kent, serving his second term.
He earned 821 votes, as opposed to 559 for challenger Ken Schwaerzle.
The rest of council will be a mix of old and new, with a total of four councillors. Newcomer Susan Spaeti topped the polls. She earned 974 votes, the most of any candidate in the District of Kent.
Former mayor Sylvia Pranger earned 843 votes.
Incumbents Duane Post and Darcy Striker were voted back into council, with 796 and 718 votes each, respectively.
Rounding out the other candidates running for council were John Wouda (537 votes), Lorne Fisher (461), Ken Vanderhoek (341) and Jack Van Dongen (337).
There were 1,418 ballots cast, and there are 4,249 estimated eligible voters in the District of Kent, making the voter turnout about 33.4%
Van Laerhoven said he’s “very excited” about the results, and what the future holds for Agassiz.
“I want to continue to move forward and I think we have a good council to do that,” he said. He has taken note from all the discussion around business-friendliness, and is hoping to “improve the climate for business,” he said.
“It’s an awareness issue and I’m looking forward to the business community getting involved in coming up with some strategies,” he said. But it takes more than businesses to create a healthy community, and he is hoping to improve Agassiz for all residents.
“We always need to be thinking about providing better service,” he said, “whether people are business people residents or farmers, or whatever. Council always needs to be thinking about what we can do to make life better for people of all ages and people in all different walks of life.”
Former mayor Sylvia Pranger has been elected to council, with a strong show of support.
She said she’s aiming to be part of a council with “real, open, transparent communication with the community.”
Pranger added that with the new four-year terms in municipalities, up from three years previously, council will have to be a “strong team environment.”
“We have to continue to work to make this a great place to live and work and do business,” she said.
Pranger also sits on the the board of directors for Prospera Credit Union, and does volunteer work with the Olive Branch.