At just 21 years old, Burns Lake’s newly elected mayor Luke Strimbold, has a clear vision for where he wants to lead the community.
Strimbold is the youngest mayor in B.C.’s history and the second youngest in Canadian history, surpassed only by Clayton Smith, previous mayor of New Norway, Alberta. Smith was elected in 1995 at the age of 19.
Strimbold said to Lakes District News that he feels his age is a benefit to the role. “Yes, I am young, but I am not afraid to ask the difficult questions. I work hard and I listen to people.”
From the age of just 12, since meeting past MLA Dennis MacKay, Strimbold said he has had an interest in the world of municipal politics, and at 20 years of age he was elected to the Village of Burns Lake council during a 2010 by election, held to replace outgoing Coun. Lianne Olson.
“I was always interested in leadership and I was always involved in student council when I was at school.”
Since sitting at the council table for nearly a year, he said he has thoroughly enjoyed the role. “I saw being on council as a stepping stone to being mayor,” he said, adding that the role of mayor was always his goal.
Strimbold won last week’s election by a landslide, with 325 votes to his credit. Mayoral candidate Eileen Benedict received 186 votes, while candidate Jim Minger received 52.
“I think it goes to show that the community is ready for change. They are ready for a new vision and new leadership,” he said.
Strimbold also said that there was 100 more votes cast this election, compared to past municipal elections. “I think the community felt it was time for a change.”
Strimbold will be officially sworn in as mayor of Burns Lake on Dec. 5, 2011, and said his vision for Burns Lake includes increasing public engagement and accountability.
“There will be increased communication with the community. I would also like to see increased communication from the community to council. We have to work together. I also want to build relationships with First Nations and Northern Health. Council needs to get all the information so that we can make decisions as effectively as possible. I want to work with Northern Health and break down the barriers, we need to put Burns Lake on the map and let them know that we are not getting the health care that we want.”
Strimbold also said council will be working towards addressing the infrastructure deficit in Burns Lake. “It is clear the community have concerns about the water, sewer, streets and sidewalks.”
Strimbold said his first port of call as mayor of Burns Lake will be appointing councilors to committees. “I think we [council] will work well together. We all have strengths and goals.”
As for gaining a seat on the Comfor Management Services Board, Strimbold said it will have to wait until their annual general meeting in spring.
“Bernice Magee and Eileen Benedict are appointed directors and will retain their positions,” he said.
Election results are also in for the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN), the Village of Granisle and School District 91.
Here are the results: The RDBN board of directors are; Bill Miller, electoral area B, Burns Lake rural, Tom Greenaway, electoral area C, Fort St. James rural, Ralph Roy, electoral area D, Fraser Lake rural, Jerry Petersen, electoral area F, Vanderhoof rural, Stoney Stoltenberg, electoral area A, Smithers rural, Steve Freeman, electoral area E, Francois/Ootsa rural and Rob Newell, electoral area G, Houston rural.
For the Village of Granisle; mayor is Linda McGuire, and Coun. Blaine Maughan, Peter Green, Jim O’Farrell, Tom Liversidge.
Directors for the School District 91 board are; Lynda Maertz, Steve Davis, Ann Marie Sam, John Stafford, Adele Gooding, Rosalie Nichiporuk and Phillipe Turgeon.