Keith Baldwin moved to Creston in the summer of 2020, and in the two years he’s called the valley home, has made a big splash.
He says he first visited Creston in the mid-1970s, when he was in college, and fell in love with the town.
He adds that while it took a while to move here, it didn’t take long to fall in love.
“I fell in love with it then, and I remember thinking this could be a cool place to live later in life. At that point, I didn’t know how much longer that was, but it took until now.”
He says moving during the pandemic proved difficult, but the destination made it worth it.
“Things were closed, but we were blown away by what an incredible small town this was, where 90 per cent of it hadn’t changed since the mid-’70s, I got to say.”
One of the first things he noticed was the phenomenal community collaboration.
“The neighborhood was fantastic, the people super gracious, and very open. And within that first year that we were here, I knew that I wanted to be more involved because there were challenges, external challenges, not with the existing group.”
Baldwin says he knew current mayor Ron Toyota after working for the provincial government until 1981.
“I had a lot of experience dealing with communities around the province. And again, every little bit it would stick out. And the one thing that stuck out for me was Ron Toyota in Creston.”
He says he admired his standards, and when he first met him, found him to be a gracious and high-integrity man.
Baldwin was elected to council in the 2021 by-election, and he says he’s grown to admire the people he’s worked with for the past year.
“I got to know the other people that were in[office]. Great people. I was in awe. They were like rock stars to me, and I’ve continued to feel that way every time I went to council,” he adds
“To me, it was such a logical next step. I’ve managed large provincial budgets. I’ve done all the strategic planning. I’ve done strategic planning at the community level, and regional level. The municipal and regional district tax was my portfolio for a year and a half, and that was fascinating.”
Baldwin adds there have been challenges the current council has had to face and overcome.
“I got to deal with a lot of communities and their issues and issues around toxicity as well. In other words, things that should have been a slam dunk. Somebody would come out of left field and throw themselves in front of the train. And being a democracy, they had to stop.”
He says things that should have been quick and easy took much longer than they should have.
However, the council always wants everyone to understand the process and the facts.
“They try to make it a consensus, and that’s me being in government. Consensus is always your objective. You are there to make sure that everybody understands. They don’t have to agree, but everybody has to understand what the facts are. And then in the case of council, individual councillors are not there to dictate their own agendas. They are there to be part of a team, do reality checks, and provide feedback, but then help make things move forward.”
Baldwin says the council has gotten many amazing things done in the past year or so, and adds he’s sorry to see some coworkers go but happy to see them move up.
“I’m really sorry to see some of them go, or in this case, Arnie DeBoon, moving up to mayor. But it is a place where we enjoy working together. We work together very well. There’s a lot of trust, all respect, always. The values are incredible.”
Lastly, Baldwin says the most important thing for him to do as councillor is in fact not what he does, but how he does it.
“For me, as a councillor candidate, it has more to do with how I’m going to do things rather than what I’m going to do. Because as a councillor, that’s not your role. You are not there to stir things up, you are not there to grandstand. You don’t need the spotlight on you. It’s how you work with your team.”
Baldwin will be running against 12 other councillor candidates. General election day is on October 15.