For 40 years, Merritt resident Kurt Christopherson has been involved in the community in one way or another, from volunteering with beavers and cubs to organizing the local concert series.

Now, with a local byelection scheduled for Sept. 15, Christopherson decided it was time to get involved in the civic end of things and put his name forward as a candidate for city councillor.

“I’ve got the skill set to be effective,” said Christopherson who worked for 30 years as a school administrator. “I learned about leadership and how to make decisions, sometimes tough decisions.”

Rather than criticize the current leadership, Christopherson said he is focusing his campaign on the strengths he would bring to the table including effective communication and commitment.

“I believe it is important to foster dialogue and develop good relationships between the City of Merritt and partner groups including the Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, the TNRD, the Downtown Business Association, service clubs, community organizations and so on,” he said.

These partnerships, he said, are vital to the health of a community and he will work hard to make sure channels of communication remain open.

“I also believe it is important to listen to people.”

Christopherson said Merritt is an independent community – one that historically paid back every penny of debt after the City went into receivership – and its strength is its people.

“Merritt has a lot of potential and we have to find ways to achieve that,” he said. “The cultural mapping project might help that.”

Christopherson said he is also interested in finances and learning to stretch tax dollars to get the maximum benefit.

“I would like to know about the total debt, and how much of the tax dollars are financing the money we borrow,” he said. “Sometimes you need to say ‘no.'”

As for commitment, Christopherson says he will be prepared, do his homework and base his decisions on the following questions: “Is it good for Merritt? Can we afford it? Is it sustainable and environmentally responsible? And, if it’s a really good idea, and we don’t have the money, can we find ways to do it?”

Christopherson, who is actively involved with the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council, the concert series, and the Country Christmas committee, said he would still like to remain active in the arts, but would have to step down from a position.

“I certainly won’t abandon them,” he said. “It’s important to have live entertainment and it keeps Merritt on the map.”

If Merrittonians vote for Christopherson, he says he will do his best to represent them.

“I’ve got a proven track record and when I say I’ll do something, I follow through with it.”

General voting will take place at City Hall on Sept. 15.