Fernie council candidate, Zuzana Simpson, wants to bring her small-business acumen and fiscal responsibility to city council.
“What I bring to the table is the fact I ran a local business for 21 years, I am fiscally responsible if nothing else,” she said in an interview with The Free Press.
A long-time local business owner, Simpson doesn’t have any experience in local government, but said that her skills running Ski Base in downtown Fernie for 21 years were transferable, and valuable.
Simpson has lived in Fernie for 42 years, having moved here from Czechoslovakia in 1980. She met her late husband, raised a son and owned and operated Ski Base since that time, becoming deeply entrenched in the community.
“People mostly knew me from the store,” she said. “It’s another reason why I want to get involved in local government. I just retired, so I’m ready to really get involved in the community.
“I love this place, it’s been my home for most of my adult life. I’m very attached to Fernie and I care about it deeply.”
In running for office, she said that she wanted to focus on housing and, child care, long-term care and service delivery for locals.
“Most people say there’s not enough housing – affordable or otherwise. My goal would be to streamline the permitting process and get more entry-level housing and better service delivery for the locals.”
She spoke of the importance of open lines of communication, and planning ahead to ensure the city’s infrastructure (and finances) could stand the test of time.
“The City of Fernie will not be exempt from rising inflation and energy costs. Going forward, we must be diligent in prioritising our capital expenditures and operating costs.
“Raising property taxes is not a solution, and will only exacerbate our affordability issues and push more people out of town.”
Speaking of affordability and identity, Simpson said that Fernie needed to focus more on those living here today, and not strive to be like other tourism towns.
“Why do we have to be like all the others, why can’t we just be Fernie?
“We have to find a balance between our tourism industry and our local community. A lot of people – myself included – feel that the current mayor and council have been paying a lot of attention to tourism, and not as much to locals.”
The election campaign period has begun in earnest in B.C. and Fernie, and Simpson said that her pitch to voters for the October 15 election was straight-forward.
“Open lines of communication, transparency, accountability. I want to be a voice for the people at city hall.”
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