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Posted: October 16, 2018

Ready for Area G

By Stephanie Stevens

Op-Ed Commentary

I have never been afraid to change careers. I have gone from journalist to youth worker to photographer to rancher, with various service industry jobs sprinkled into the mix.

So adding in Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Electoral Area G Director is not a startling move in my mind. And it has been on my mind for a really long time.

And the thing is, all of those past careers still have a place in my life.

I still commit journalism from time to time, still do the odd photo shoot, still have my toe dipped in youth work and service work still crops up in my current career, albeit in a different way.

The thing that has been missing for the past several years is direct involvement with my community. Being on the Advisory Planning Commission and alternate director was enough for a long time, but now I want to do more.

I know am ready.

So I filed the papers, and the past few weeks have been all about getting out and putting up signs, knocking on doors and walking down roads, some of which I had never been down. It has been awesome!

While I do not want to be the A-typical politician, I have indeed found myself shaking hands and petting dogs, though I have yet to kiss any babies.

I think when you grow up somewhere, you assume you know pretty well everyone. And I do know a lot of people, but meeting even more has been wonderful. And the roads! I honestly had not been down some of them until this past few weeks. Walking and driving down new ones has been an adventure, and I feel exhilarated each time a door opens and I am not sure if I am going to say hello to someone I already know or introduce myself to a new acquaintance.

I am fairly certain I have missed a few driveways, but I am heading back to try to hit them all. And if successful in my bid for RDEK Area G Director, I will be doing it all again. How can you represent people if you have never seen their face or said hello?

Being a local girl running for office has also carried a few light-hearted moments when running into long time locals.

Quite a few of my initial greetings have gone like this:

“Are you Bob Clarke’s daughter?”

“Are you Ida Clarke’s daughter?”

“Did you go to school with so and so?”

“Hey I did not know you were sisters!” (When my sister Sharon accompanies me).

“You Basil Stevens kid?” (Not technically, though I do consider that Stevens clan family!)

And of course, “Hey, you used to work for The Echo!”

It has been a total rush, and while it has been also exhausting, the feeling of getting to know as many people as I can has been well worth it.

The campaigning process is an interesting one. As I mentioned, I don’t want to come across as the promise-making, hand-shaking, forget-you-when-I-walk-away type. That is not me. And I know I cannot fix everything, at least not all at once.

I keep saying communication is key, and it is.

If I do not take the time to talk to you, or you feel you cannot talk to me, I cannot do the job I am hoping you will elect me for.

I have tried to find a balance of giving a platform I am running on, but keeping it open enough that I can truly include all three legs of that community stool: environment, people, economy. It is not what I want or need, it is what you want or need.

We are all in this together, and we have to work together to make things happen.

My belief is there is always a way, if we only look and work hard enough to get there. The road ahead, in life or community, is never straight and tidy. There are twist and turns and curves, and we have to navigate that as best we can, together. That means looking at all ideas, not matter how far out they seem, because oftentimes bits and pieces of different ideas come together and make a whole. We sometimes need to adjust our course, re-tool how we do things and keep an open mind.

Area G is a wonderful, rural, diverse area. Each community has its own flair and its own challenges. And every person in it counts.

There have been moments I think this whole shebang is rather daunting. But I have never been one to back down from challenge. So when I have those moments, I remember what my son Scott’s piano teacher used to say when he faced a seemingly insurmountable new piece:

“How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.”

Let’s take those bites together.

Photo courtesy Lindsay McPherson

Stephanie Stevens is a candidate for the Regional District of East Kootenay Electoral Area G Director’s seat in this Saturday’s (Oct. 20) election.

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