By Steve Hubrecht

Candidates vying for the vacant seat on Invermere council in the March by-election will square off in a forum next week.

An all-candidates forum will be held on the evening of Wednesday, February 22. It’s being organized by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce (CVCC). 

Five candidates are running for the open councillor position: Grey Bradatsch, David Goldsmith, Grant Kelly, Stephanie Stevens, and Juanita Violini. They are vying to replace Invermere councillor-elect Mark Topliff, who stepped down shortly after last fall’s general municipal election, for personal reasons.

The forum will be an hour and a half to two hours long, with a moderator giving the candidates questions (which the public can contribute) for the first 90 minutes. Then forum attendees will get a chance to talk with the candidates for the final 30 minutes.

“The chambers of commerce in various Kootenay communities often play this role,” CVCC executive director, Pete Bourke, told the Pioneer. “It’s particularly important this time since we didn’t have a chance to run a forum in the fall. Now we get an opportunity to do that, which is great.”

During the fall election, only five candidates ran for the five positions (one mayor and four councillors) on Invermere council, so there was no forum or voting; all candidates were acclaimed to their positions. 

Although the by-election is just for one seat “it’s still very important. Invermere has a small council, so the winning candidate will become 20 per cent of the local council,” said Bourke, adding he’s delighted to see so many candidates put their names forward for the by-election.

“We’re hoping for and expecting a large amount of interest,” said Bourke.

The forum will be held at the Lake Windermere Lions Club at the crossroads, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The chamber opted for that location, which is technically outside of the boundaries of the District of Invermere. The particular date of Feb. 22, is based on availability of the venue on relatively short notice.

“Having it at the Columbia Valley Centre (where Invermere council holds its meeting) was not an option, because the centre was not available,” explained Bourke, 

Invermere residents wanting to submit potential questions for the forum can do so online at