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New Thompson-Nicola Regional District Area A director discusses future plans, 2-vote win

Usoff Tsao is looking forward to representing Area A, Wells Gray Country, residents
Usoff Tsao has been elected as Thompson-Nicola Regional District director for Area A (Wells Gray Country). (Photo submitted)

Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) will see a new director in Area A Wells Gray Country after a tight race, according to preliminary election results.

Usoff Tsao of Clearwater received 50.3 per cent of the vote (150), edging out incumbent Carol Schaffer of Vavenby by just two votes with 148 following the Oct. 15 election.

In conversation with the Clearwater Times this week, Usoff Tsao said the razor thin margin sends him a message to work harder.

“I will need to reach out to a significant portion of the electorate who did not vote for me. They are all valid reasons that I need to follow up and address in order to have support for carrying out my job representing everyone’s voice at the TNRD board.”

Tsao’s thoughts on the election are that it was a very well-managed event by all parties from the TNRD and Elections BC to incumbent Carol Schaffer.

“I think the journey showed me our democratic system at this level of government is fairly robust; any resident regardless of socioeconomic background can run for TNRD office. Unfortunately I feel this is contrasted to higher levels of government where inter-official and party politics and political pedigree comes into play. But that’s above my pay grade and interest levels, a puzzle for another civic minded individual to solve.”

Tsao said his goals for the community is multi-faceted, with one important aspect being engagement.

“I think what the last few years has shown us is that our public office/general public engagement has taken a nose dive from restrictions. My goal is to rebuild that and make residents feel they are included in policy plannings. I also want to show people that the election was my job interview with them being the interviewers who gave me my job so they are the top people I answer to, not the other way around (again I feel our titles should be renamed to representatives since we’re actually being directed BY residents).”

He said a second goal is to make the regional level of government operate with compassion first.

“It goes without saying to anyone who has paid attention to people from all walks of life in the last few years that many have been devastated financially and socially. A person in public office should operate more like a major component to a doctor’s Hippocratic Oath; do no harm. Bylaws and policies should never leave anyone worse off than they were before implementation. The issue is to put compassion into measurable objective policies that are enforceable without loop holes for abuse. That will be the tricky part that I look forward to the collective intellect of the TNRD board of directors as a resource to tackle.”

Thirdly, Tsao said he wants to do whatever he can to bring economic activities to Wells Gray Country.

“Our youth deserve an area that is not only socially nurturing but economically viable for them to thrive and start a family. I want to study what other regions or even countries have done and learn to adapt policies to be put into motions at the TNRD level. On a personal level I will advocate and be on constant lookouts for grants that funds economic developments. Additionally, I believe the TNRD being one of the largest regional governments geographically, has the potential for different regions to work together economically onto ourselves and I look forward to learning more from each of the other members of the board.”

Tsao’s currently working as a standby rescue and fire prevention technician for the pipeline with a company called First Response. He has a wife and two children and their closest relatives, his parents and brother, live in Vancouver.

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Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

A desire to travel led me to a full-time photographer position at the Williams Lake Tribune in B.C.’s interior.
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