Castlegar resident and former Revelstoke city councillor, Antoinette Halberstadt, has decided to join those running for the vacant council seat in the City of Castlegar by-election in September.
Halberstadt sat down with the Castlegar News on Sunday, July 28 for a brief interview about who she is and why she’s entering the race.
“I have a history, ever since I was 21 or younger, of wanting citizen engagement and wanting to empower people in the democratic process,” said the retired 64-year-old. “I was born in South Africa which, as you may know, was more or less a police state while I was growing up there, so that issue was really important to me.”
Halberstadt, who had previously spent about 22 years in the Slocan Valley and another eleven years in Revelstoke, has lived in Castlegar for slightly more than a year.
“I was a councillor for one [three year] term in Revelstoke and absolutely believe I would have been re-elected in a landslide if I had run again,” she said. “But I retired because I was about to retire from my employment as an ambulance paramedic, my grandkids had just moved to Castlegar and everything was in flux. If I had left mid-term that wouldn’t have been fair [to them].”
Halberstadt said that as a Revelstoke councillor she enjoyed going “right to the hub” of groups who wanted or were upset by something. She said by listening and putting her finger on whatever information they wanted to put out, she could show them the processes to best help them.
When asked if she was excited to be running for another leadership position Halberstadt said she didn’t see it as a leadership position.
“I’m not running for mayor,” she laughed. “I’m a natural community leader but if you’re going to be mayor you have to be dotting your ‘I’s’ and crossing your ‘T’s’ all the time; you’re in the public eye all the time. I do like to be able to kick back a little bit every now and then.” Halberstadt said people in Revelstoke had asked her to run for mayor but she wasn’t sure if she could weather it.
“I was also a leader within my union as an ambulance paramedic,” she said. “I was an ambulance paramedic for 25 years, mostly in the Slocan Valley. I was the unit chief in Winlaw for about six years.”
Halberstadt said the first thing that prompted her to look at running was the issue with pesticide use in the city. She said she “stumbled across” the Facebook page for the Citizens for a Pesticide Free Castlegar and Area and thought that as she had helped with a similar issue in Revelstoke, she would offer her assistance.
“In no time at all it turned into my taking on quite a leadership role there and it reminded me of how much I enjoy helping people,” she said.
She said when one of the people in the campaign suggested she had an ability to “get things done” and would “vote for her any day,” it started her thinking about running in the by-election.
“I want to be councillor in Castlegar because this is where my grandchildren’s future is,” said Halberstadt. “I have many ties here from my years in the Slocan Valley.”
Halberstadt joins Kirk Duff, Tyler Maddocks and Florio Vassilakakis on the growing list of those who have said they will be filing papers for the by-election.
While we didn’t specifically ask the same questions we asked of the other candidates, Halberstadt said her first instinct in a crisis is “to dive right into the middle of it, take stock of what’s going on, diagnose what needs fixing and get on with it.”
The by-election date is set for Saturday, September 14. The Castlegar news will continue to bring you interviews as candidates step forward. A reminder, too, that the Castlegar Chamber of Commerce is hosting a by-election debate for all candidates on Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Sandman Inn (1944 Columbia Avenue).