West Kelowna: Zanon not concerned about being sole female councillor

Coun. Carol Zanon isn't worried about being the only female representative on DWK council

Carol Zanon isn't too concerned that she was the only woman elected to the District of West Kelowna council. 'We have strong women in the community who will very much let council know of any problems

The female representation on the District of West Kelowna council was cut in half on election night when Rosalind Neis lost the race for mayor and Rick de Jong filled the open seat in Council Chambers.

For the next three years, incumbent Coun. Carol Zanon will be the only female representative on DWK council.

But according to her, it won’t be an issue.

“I really think that I’ve got a strong enough voice and we have strong women in the community who will very much let council know of any problems,” said Zanon.

“I’ve worked with different groups all my life and I get past whether it’s men or women.”

Zanon said that she fought gender battles more than 30 years ago with her university’s women’s club, supporting scholarships and bursaries to get women involved with programs that they weren’t traditionally involved with.

When asked if it is still an issue, Zanon said, “I think we’re beyond that now.”

“We work through neighbourhood associations. If you think of who is involved with those neighbourhood associations, there are some very adept and capable women in our community. They will make their voices heard.”

On election night, Mayor Doug Findlater said that he was concerned about the disproportionate amount of women on council.

“I think that’s something that council’s going to have to talk about and address in some way. We’ll have to find a mechanism to make sure that we hear from women and their perspectives as we go along.”

With 3,514 votes, Zanon was the second most popular choice for councillor on Nov. 19. Coun. Duane Ophus was the only candidate to earn more votes with 3,528.

Zanon suggested that there may be a variety of reasons why her name appealed to voters.

“It’s very broad what I’m interested in. In the first election I was known down in the Westbank Irrigation District area because I had been the chair there for many years, but I had no profile at the other end,” said Zanon.

“What we did as a council over the last four years, (I) certainly got involved with different issues and took stands on different things. That probably helped.”

Zanon said that other votes may have come simply because residents wanted to see a woman on council.

“People choose their candidates for their own reasons.”

Now that Zanon knows she has three more years as a councillor, she is eager to get working on the district’s master plans.

“The major issue is the implementation and integration of all of those plans that we have been, and are in the process of, accepting. Integrating all of those poses a challenge.”

Zanon said that two of the master plans that are of particular interest to her are the Water Master Plan and the Waterfront Master Plan.

“I feel that (the Waterfront Master Plan) needs a bit more economic emphasis. We have to find some way to pay for the improvements and pay for the perpetuation of the nice things down there.

“To work on that we have to find a way that’s not going to hit the taxpayer more than it is at this moment.”