Eighteen candidates are officially in the running for a spot at the council table as of the close of the 2022 Civic Elections nomination period, signalling the beginning of a busy election season in the City of Merritt. In addition to 18 council candidates, four mayoral candidates look to win over voters and secure a mandate in City Hall. The incumbent Mayor, Linda Brown, will face three challengers in current and former city councillors looking to claim the top seat at the council table, as only two incumbent Councillors seek reelection.
As the City recovers from the economic downturn and health crisis caused by COVID-19, along with the devastation caused by the November 2021 floods, voters will choose a Mayor and Council to lead them in the next four years of recovery and growth. The Herald will be conducting ‘Q & As’ interviews, and continue profiling all council candidates throughout the election campaign. The Herald has asked for submissions from all council candidates for an initial introduction. Here they are at a glance:
“My name is Deanna Palmgren. I have lived in Merritt for 6 years, moving here from
Williams Lake. I am married to my husband Alan and we have 2 grown children,
Jennifer and Ryan.
My time in Merritt has mostly been spent as a Licensed Property Manager with Merritt Property Management Ltd. It’s a challenge finding housing in our community but again, I enjoy working with my clients and assisting people to find a place to call home. I became involved with Nicola Valley Food Bank Society approximately 3 year ago. It has become very aware to me that not only is housing important, but food security as well! It has given me great pride to not only be a volunteer, but to be President/Chairperson in a Society that assists to provide the needs of people that humbly reach out and “ask for help”.
“Hello. My name is Paul Petroczi. Many in Merritt know me through working at
the local Canadian Tire Store over the last five years, and before that as an RCMP Constable working out of the Merritt RCMP Detachment. I have always been guided by personal core values such as, Integrity, Honesty, Professionalism, Compassion, and Respect. As your City Councillor, I will continue to be guided by these core values. Thank you.”
Melvina White (incumbent, 2018 – current)
“It has been an honour and a privilege to have served the community of Merritt as a City Councillor for the past 4 years. Serving as a councilor has provided me with many opportunities to meet and work with so many good people who believe in our city and are doing what they can to create a positive environment in Merritt.
One of my greatest visions for Merritt and the surrounding Nicola Valley is to diversify our economy by building our tourism sector. Over the past 4 years I have worked with many stakeholders, businesses and community organizations who hold this vision with me.
I will listen and continue to work hard for positive changes that need to happen at the same time staying true to my core values. I will work hard to find better approaches to meaningfully engage the whole community, from the very beginning of any process that might result in significant community change.”
“Hi everyone, my name is Brian Peterson and I have lived in Merritt since early elementary
school days.I love the community atmosphere in Merritt; people know one another by name and are always willing to lend a helping hand. Yet, we have a growing number of skilled, hard-working Merritonians who are feeling squeezed out of the community because of the high cost of housing and soaring rent fees, due to lack of options. It would be a terrible shame to lose the talent and skill that these folks offer our fine city; they are the backbone of this community. I dream about affordable housing, seeing our downtown core revitalized and incentives given to encourage business development in the heart of our town. And I believe it is possible to achieve this without losing the incredible sense of community that makes Merritt a wonderful place to live.”
Adam Etchart (incumbent, 2018 – current)
“I was elected in 2018, and on many committees including arts council, finance, police, museum and youth, although Covid caused the youth committee to not continue until the next council.
My focus areas would be flood recovery and mitigation, economic development, supportive housing, and lobbying for improvement and increases in health services for our community.”
“I sort of thought I heard the Lord say, “you should run for council.” Then I met Mike Bhangu, and I like his energy, and he was here telling me I should run. So I told him I would run if he ran for Mayor.
I’ve done a lot in my life, I taught for 20 years, and I’ve always been involved in the community. I was a Christian councillor, and we’ve always fostered children. The tremendous hikes in City taxes, it’s the wrong time for that. And I can’t get over the lack of care for our parks. The handling of the flood was really poor. I’ll listen, I care, and I’ll work for you.”
“Manuel is a strong advocate of entrepreneurialism and small business. In 2015, Manuel served as a director with the Merritt & District Chamber of Commerce. Manuel has been actively volunteering at Junior Achievement Canada delivering numerous classes to elementary and high school students. Manuel has lived in Merritt; B.C. for the past 12 years raising his family and would enjoy the opportunity to serve as city councillor. He recognizes gaps amongst residents and the city and would like to work on bridging and closing these gaps for the betterment of the City of Merritt. He truly believes that the key component of these elections is to vote for the right team who can represent the common interests of Merrittonians as stated by his campaign slogan, “working together, for change”.
“I believe the people of Merritt should have full trust in their leadership and I will make sure of it. I’ve always told my kids to be leaders and not followers and I’ll always lead by example. As a business man myself (Karnies Mini Donuts) and 2 previous businesses, I understand that a clean town brings prosperity and future businesses. I attended the meeting at City Hall and the one word everybody seemed to touch on was Communication. I will push to make sure that it never lacks and especially during a major event such as the November flood.”
“I am running for Council because I feel it is time for me to step up and help after such devastation in our community this past year. I want to make Merritt a better and safer community not only for my children, family, friends, but for everyone who lives and works within our community. My hope is to represent Merritt and be a voice at the table to help build a stronger future we can all be proud of.”
With 40 years of Information Technology Experience providing a logical point of view, and diplomas in Wildlife & Forestry Conservation, and Professional Driving. Moved to Merritt in 2001, raised a family, successfully operated a sanctioned Youth Gaming & Computer Centre for 6+ years and became the President of the Chamber of Commerce for a short time, dragging it out of ruin. Highly business and community minded, sincere, and thoughtful, with a passionate pledge to help make Merritt a better place in the face of obstacles.
“As a keen observer of Politics for more than 30 years, I have sat on the sidelines wondering how it is that politicians never see the next best idea to solve problems, but are always stumbling on picking the next best worst idea that ends up costing more money in the long run.
My moral and ethical belief is that we should always speak the truth and act with honor and integrity. I believe that being a politician is to be in service to everyone without prejudice or bias, we are all human beings first.”
Susan Roline (Mayor, 2008-2014)
“I am a Lifetime resident and active participant in my community. Past two term Mayor, 40 years in the Financial Service Industry. Ten years as a Director for the Coquihalla Okanagan Conservative Constituency. Currently 6 years as Treasurer for Canadian Country Music Hall of Honour, Served 7 years on BC Assessment Review Panel, Current Chair of Spayum Holdings LP. Founding member and 9 years as President of NV Cruisers Car Club.
My commitment to the betterment, prosperity & longevity of Merritt, along with my experience & knowledge makes me an excellent choice for Merritt voters to have me serve as Councillor.”
A synopsis of my platform is:
-immediate focus and implementation towards flood mitigation
-aggressively encourage industry with competitive wages
-refocus capital expenditures towards infrastructure
-a council that is accountable, transparent and open to the community
-strive for a healthy and active community
Claire Newman (incumbent in District of Logan Lake)
“With over 14 years of experience in municipal government as an elected official, I hope to bring my love of public service to Merritt. This beautiful community I now call home, deserves an approachable council, a team and a government that displays a level of commitment and professionalism. I look forward to the opportunity to sit as your experienced voice at our table.”
Photo for Dana Egan coming soon.
“Having grown up in Merritt, I have been involved in Sports and Recreation Activities my entire life. I spent 2 four-year terms on the Recreation Commission in the 1980’s and participated in the research & planning of the current Merritt Aquatic Centre. I have been in Business in Merritt for over 25 years and have a background in Recreation Administration and as a Legal Assistant. In our business, we have assisted many community groups, individuals, charities, and sports teams raise funds through our Steak Dinner fundraiser events. Prior to being in business, I worked for the Conayt Friendship Society as their Program & Special Projects Coordinator,
and was successful in securing funds for sports, education, culture, housing & tourism through various levels of government funding.”
“I am a lifelong Merritt resident, a mechanic by trade, dedicated recycler, have a good understanding of the diverse cultures in Merritt and the area, and I have a knowledge of the Nicola Valley’s history.”
“You need to have a group of people come up with an idea and work with each other, because it’s better to have people who want productive change in the town. We’ve got homeless issues that are rampant, and we’ve got people with money that are raising the rent prices to more than what people can afford.
We want to get this town back to what it was, alive and vibrant. If you want some positive healthy change in Merritt, vote for us. With Norma-Jean, Mary, and I running, along with Mike Bhangu, we can help facilitate change in the most positive way.”
“We need something done with the homeless. I was working at the 7th Day Adventist church where we would feed them and give them clothes, but we need something more. What they did with the flood, it was wrong. How do you know you have representation unless the representatives come and say, ‘hey, I’m here to help?’
We care, and we want to help. I want to see things change, I really do. When I hear people talk about Merritt, it isn’t the same way it used to be. It’s scary, I would not go for a walk at night like in 2012 when we moved here. I want it to be safe again.”
The municipal election will take place on October 15, and will see Merrittonians elect one Mayor and six Councillors to a four year term. This is a part of a series of election coverage the Herald will offer this year, including upcoming interviews on relevant topics, Q&As, and more. To follow the Herald’s election coverage, visit merrittherald.com/category/civic-elections-2022.
For more information on the election, visit www.merritt.ca/election22.