Mayor & Councillors

Mayor Robert Sawatzky

I was born and raised in rural NE Saskatchewan. After graduation from medical school in Saskatoon, I trained in South Carolina and worked there and in New Brunswick before moving to Vernon in 1990. I worked in Family Practice here for 21 years before running for Mayor in 2011. My wife Betsy and I have 2 grown children, Colin and Lauren,  who are both away at university.
I’ve been active in various professional and community organizations over the years. I’ve served as president of the Dalhousie Medical Staff for 2 years, and been on multiple hospital committees, including Continuing Medical Education, and the Intensive Care Unit. I was also a clinical instructor for McGill Medical School for 5 years. I served 4 years on the New Brunswick Medical Society Finance committee. I also was a member of the Dalhousie Rotary Club, and president of the local Boy Scouts chapter. In Vernon I spent 8 years as a member of the Ribbons of Green Trails Society and 4 years as their president.
I  have always enjoyed most sports including softball, hockey, skiing, curling and cycling. In the past, I also had hobby farms in the Vernon area raising either buffalo, cattle or sheep. Age is telling me that jogging, cycling, curling and reading are now more appropriate.


Councillor Juliette Cunningham

I have been a Vernon resident since 1966.  I am married to Dave and we have a blended family of 4 children and 4 grandchildren.  I graduated from Vernon Senior Secondary in 1969 and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1988 from Simon Fraser University,  as a mature student,  with a major in French and a minor in Education.
I have operated a family business in Downtown Vernon since 1990.  My community involvement has included such roles as Beaver leader, Brownie pack President, kid’s baseball coach, and member of the first  Citizens on Patrol.   I served as Vice-president of the original People Place Society Board,  inspired by Agnes Sovereign.  I sat as Vice-President of the Downtown Vernon Association,   Chair of the Women’s Centre Society,  and Board Treasurer of  the Teen Junction Literacy Society.
 I served 9 years as a SD # 22 School  trustee  (1996-2005), 3 years as Board Chair.  I served as a Vernon City Councillor from 2005-2008 and a North Okanagan Regional District director (2007-2008).
I am looking forward to the next three years on City Council.  Although there will be many challenges in these trying economic times I believe if we all work together,  council and citizens alike, we can still make progress towards making Vernon a City we are all proud to call home.

Councillor Catherine Lord

  • I was born in Holland, and emigrated with my family to Canada when I was 10. 
  • Vernon resident since 1977.
  • Married to Harry Lord - we have one child, Jody, who is married to Matt, and they have a son, Jacob.
  • Deputy Treasurer - City of Vernon 17 years
  • Director of Finance - District of Coldstream 4 years.
  • General Manager - Historic O’Keefe Ranch - 3 years.
  • Community Involvement 25 years, including Vernon Women’s Transition House, North Okanagan United Way, Boys & Girls Club, Ribbons of Green Trails Society and Community Foundation of the North Okanagan.

Goals for the next 3 years:

  • Good fiscal management; a lean and efficient government.
  • Better cooperation with NORD; a resolution to the parks debate.
  • Water quality and supply - affordable water; work with provincial government towards this goal
  • Road infrastructure - balance between vehicles, bicyclists & pedestrians.

Councillor Bob Spiers

  • Elected Councillor November 2008
  • Lived in Vernon since 1991
  • Married 34 years - 3 Children
  • Operated Vernonblog for over 10 years –

Goals as a Councillor in 2012:

  • An external value for money audit of the City’s operation, services delivery and sustainability
  • Continued Review of the Reserves at City and RDNO
  • A Development Cost Reserve (DCC) Review re: Project Costs at the City
  • A Development Cost Update Review on Water and Parks DCC’s at RDNO
  • A non-subsidized and sustainable O’Keefe Ranch
  • Capital Works projects that address our infrastructure deficit rather than add to it

Councillor Brian Quiring

Our family moved to Vernon in 1993 after I graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Master of Architecture degree. Since moving to Vernon I have had the good fortune of creating and maintaining a successful architectural practice and am currently the managing partner of MQN Architects. My wife Dorothy and three children Alyssa, Natasha and Eli look forward to my new role in serving our community.

• Create a sustainable Vernon, economically, socially & environmentally
• Promote Transit-oriented mixed use development with a wide range of housing choices
• Encourage sustainable architecture, landscape and agriculture

• Bachelor of Environmental Studies
• Master of Architecture
• Member of Architectural Institute of British Columbia
• Engineering Ministries International, El Shaddai Trip, Haiti 2010 Prior Community Involvement
• City of Vernon Advisory Planning Commission
• Downtown Design Review Panel
• Vice President Vernon Art Gallery
• MQN Team Captain - CIBC Run for the Cure

Councillor Mary-Jo O'Keefe

  • Long-time resident of Vernon
  • Married to David O'Keefe, Step-mom to three children and seven grandchildren
  • Graduated from Vernon Secondary School
  • Received Community Recreation Degree, Mount Royal College, Calgary
  • Received MBA (Masters of Business Administration),Athabasca University, Alberta
  • Over 20 years experience in the tourism industry with a background in destination management, publishing, sales
  • Served 6 years with Community Futures, first as Executive Director, then as Community Technology Manager
  • Supervises the ongoing development of
  • Local Business Owner, MJO Communications Inc.
  • Served on School Board, District 22; Trustee, (1993-2008); Board Chair, (2002-2005)
  • Served as President (2008) & Director of Downtown Business Association (2007-2008)
  • Appointed to BC College of Teachers, (2004-2008)
Goals as a Councillor:
  • To work with Council to enable Vernon's economic base by focusing on the retention and expansion of local business. The Economic Development and Tourism functions must be given a clear mandate, with governing boards representing community stakeholders.
  • To support City Council as a leader in it's partnership with federal and provincial governments and local organizations, and, as a priority, provide solutions for the support of the poor and homeless in our community.
  • To urge Council to move to a more carbon neutral community, including the completion of "Ribbons of Green".
  • To work towards the provision of better services for clean water and infrastructure, including solutions for transportation issues, such as downtown congestion and "alternative" routes.


Contact Info
General Inquiries: 250-545-1361
Fax: 250-545-4048
Robert Sawatzky, Mayor


Juliette Cunningham: Cell: 250-309-2432
Catherine Lord: Cell: 250-309-1685
Bob Spiers : 250-549-2819
Brian Quiring: Cell: 250-309-2861
Mary-Jo O'Keefe : Cell: 250-540-0634

RDNO Greater Vernon Water Coldstream City of Vernon, BC City of Vernon, BC