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Upper Nicola Band election a close one
It turns out one vote can make a difference.
The race was as close as it could be, but in the end Harvey McLeod won re-election as Chief of the Upper Nicola Band by a single vote.
The incumbent candidate defeated his predecessor, Dan Manuel, with 101 votes to Manuel’s 100. Fred Holmes accumulated 79 votes.
McLeod told the Herald winning by the lone ballot was a humbling experience.
“It means that I still have a lot of work to do to build the confidence in my leadership and the leadership being shown through council,” Mcleod said, noting that he believes he needs to spend more time in the community.
“I live in a world where the outside can keep me quite busy and not much time [is] spent in the community and now I know I need to spend more time in the community with the people, he said.
McLeod became chief three years ago after defeating then Chief Dan Manuel by a slightly larger margin of victory — five votes.
The Upper Nicola council looks very much the same as the previous term.
All four incumbent councillors we re-elected in the 2017 election. Returning to council are Brian Holmes with 194 votes, Dennis MacDonald with 150, David Lindley with 141 votes and Wallace Michel with 110 votes.
New councillor Clairine Paul was elected to council with 128 votes.
Chief and council will serve a three-year term.
In total 282 people cast ballots — 188 on voting day this past Saturday (Mar. 18) 84 in the advanced poll and 10 people voted via mail-in ballot.
Voter turnout was up slightly from the last election in 2014 when 247 of an eligible 763 people cast a ballot.
McLeod said there are some big projects happening in and around Upper Nicola, such as the Kinder Morgan pipeline project, that require the band’s attention.
“But at the same time I’m looking at a lot of the needs we have in the community [like] housing, roads, health, education and social needs,” McLeod said. “Those will need a lot more of our attention in these next three years.”
He said he’d also like to change the band’s governance structure by “moving away from the Indian Affairs way of doing things.”
“We’ve been talking about it for some time now, and I think we’re ready to start having a look at how we want to set ourselves up to look after ourselves,” said McLeod.
McLeod said the band has spent some time looking into adopting a land code like the Lower Nicola Band did last fall, which transferred authority on zoning and all control over reserve lands from the IA to the band.
“Right now it’s all dictated by Indian Affairs and we feel that it’s our responsibility to take back some of that responsibility,” said McLeod.