Aaron Sam is once again in the running for the position of Lower Nicola Indian Band Chief after band councillors impeached Victor York and council member Harold Joe in November.

This time Sam, who lost to York by only 11 votes in October 2010, will run against Spence Coutlee in a byelection scheduled for Jan. 28.

Besides the candidates for chief, six people were nominated to run as candidates for the vacant council position during an open band nomination meeting held Jan. 5. Council veterans Arthur Dick Sr., Clyde Sam and Archie Blankinship are in the running for the council spot as well as Tim Patterson, Nicholas Peterson and Bill Bose – all newcomers to the political arena.

Blanchard Coutlee Jr. was also nominated as a candidate for chief during the meeting, but declined the opportunity to run.

LNIB interim executive director Arnie Narcisse said that the new Electoral Officer conducted the nomination meeting, laying out the rules and explaining how the process would go.

“I got the sense that she is a no nonsense type of lady,” said Narcisse. “I believe there was a pretty good turn out to the meeting.”

Narcisse did not attend the meeting himself and instead visited a sweat lodge offering prayers on behalf of the process; however, Narcisse and the rest of the band must wait to hear if the byelection can go ahead at all.

York, who was suspended by council in September along with Joe, and then impeached Nov. 1, has filed court actions to overturn the impeachment and halt the byelection.

As of press time, Narcisse said they were still waiting to hear whether a judge would honour the injunction.

“Unfortunately, a lot of our governance issues are ending up in the courts in an effort to have the courts define our government structure,” said Narcisse. “It’s a lengthy and expensive process and in the long run it does no one any good.”

Narcisse argues that taking various issues to court detracts from the Band council’s ability to move forward as a cohesive structure and creates doubt in the surrounding communities.

York’s suspension notice listed nearly 80 violations including a breach of the band’s oath of office, a breach of the chief and council policy guidelines and a breach of an interim order issued by the court. Narcisse said that York was given the opportunity to appear before council to explain himself, but chose not to.

While the six remaining councillors were unanimous in the decision to impeach York and Joe, Narcisse said the action was in response to a call from the band membership at a LNIB general meeting. Since then, Narcisse feels that the general atmosphere of the membership has improved.

“We continue to do the job we’re tasked with to service our members,” he said. “The memberships’ needs are being taken care of and we’ll continue to ensure that that will be the situation.”