Thomas McDonald is the new RDEK Area A director as of the October 15 2022 election. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Thomas McDonald is the new RDEK Area A director as of the October 15 2022 election. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

‘Now’s the time to stay engaged’: Thomas McDonald reflects on Area A victory

Thomas McDonald replaces Mike Sosnowski as Area A director

The Elk Valley has a new Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) director, with Thomas McDonald set to replace long-serving director Mike Sosnowski.

McDonald bested two opponents to take on the position, which represents all parts of the valley not covered by the three municipalities.

“I’m extremely excited,” said McDonald. “I had a great team behind me and it was a tonne of work, talking to a tonne of people.

“We ran a very balanced, honest campaign based on integrity and I think through that process we got elected and I’m very excited to move forward and get to work.”

McDonald said that some of the big issues that were brought up by residents were road conditions around the valley and secondary access at the Ski Hill. He also said that the Hosmer Fire Hall came up, and he wanted to make sure everyone had access to the information needed so the community knew more about what was happening.

‘We’ve got some pretty big challenges ahead,” he said.

With regards to the race, McDonald secured 245 votes of 493 cast in the election, or 49.7 percent. Of his opponents, Lee-Anne Walker received 228 votes (46.2 percent), while Hungry Baytaluke received 20 votes (4 percent).

“I respect Lee-Anne for running, she ran a great campaign,” said McDonald. “I’m very excited to work with her on some issues moving forward.”

Heading into the role as Area A director, McDonald said he’d be focusing on communication with the community, and wanted the process to be two-ways.

“Now’s the time to stay engaged with your director and communicate.”

McDonald replaces Mike Sosnowski, who served as Area A director for 17 years. “Mike was a big supporter of ours,” said McDonald, who added that they were very different people who didn’t agree on every issue. “I’d like to thank Mike for all the service he gave over 17 years. He accomplished a lot in this term, and hopefully I can draw from his experience if needed.”

Area A is spread through the Elk Valley, covering all portions not governed by the three local municipalities. It takes in rural areas and some built-up areas such as the Fernie Ski Hill, Cokato, Dicken Road, Hosmer, Lower Elk Valley Road, and everywhere in between.

The area has an estimated population of 1,875 people according to the 2021 Canadian census, while there were only 493 votes cast in this election in Area A.

Looking at the granulated voter data released by the elections officer for the RDEK, neither McDonald or Walker dominated across the valley.

McDonald and then Walker won the advancing voting days, with McDonald securing 68 votes to Walker’s 24 on October 5, and then trailing behind on October 13, 38-51. (Baytaluke won three votes in advance voting).

On general voting day, there were three polling places open: In Sparwood, Hosmer and Fernie.

McDonald won the Sparwood polling place, securing 31 votes to Walker’s 7 (and Baytaluke’s single vote), and also the Hosmer polling place, 36-25. Hosmer turned out to be the best location for Baytaluke, with the third candidate winning 11 votes there (of 20 overall).

Fernie was a victory for Walker, where she won 100 votes to McDonald’s 72. Mail-in ballots also broke strongly for Walker: She received 21 votes via mail, whereas McDonald did not win any.

READ MORE: Thomas McDonald to run for Area A director
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Election 2022