Spencer Coyne

Spencer Coyne

A Spotlight interview with Spencer Coyne

Coyne first elected at age 24

For Mayor Spencer Coyne, the sense that Princeton is truly home runs deep.

“This isn’t just a place call home, it is home. It is our ancestral home. I am a member of the Upper Similkameen Indian Band and I feel I have a responsibility to do my absolute best, not just for the people, but for the land.”

Coyne became interested in politics during his first year at Okanagan University College (now UBC Okanagan) where he studied history, political science and sociology.

He was vice-president of student services for the student association. “I learned more in that position than in any classroom setting.”

Just shy of obtaining his degree, Coyne returned to Princeton to finish his education by distance learning and was dismayed at what he saw.

“Princeton was in a pretty deep depression. It was before the mine had reopened, and before there was even any rumblings about the mine reopening,” he recalled.

“My entire generation had just about moved away. My cousins had moved. My family was leaving because there were no jobs and no opportunities here.”

He began attending council meetings and was active with a group protesting against cutbacks to health care. For the latter cause, he once marched through the streets of Penticton while helping to carry a hospital bed.

“I believe if you are going to complain about something, you better be prepared to do something about it.”

Coyne was first elected to council in 2004, and at the time was the second youngest councillor in the province.

After a three-year term, he lost his seat by a handful of votes. “It was six or eight or something like that…I turned me into a strong believer that every vote counts.”

Coyne began writing, working for the Similkameen Spotlight and later for the Similkameen News Leader.

During the same time, he managed the movie gallery, and worked at the arena for seven winters, before accepting a job at The Source. He was manager of that retail business when it closed in 2021.

In 2018, he made first first mayoral bid and won handily.

“The last four years, despite all the challenges, have been amazingly rewarding. We’ve been able to bring back a sense of community…What we are doing right now is about community.”

Coyne and his partner Jess live on the family farm, while raising three children.

“When I’m not working, I want to be with my family,” he said.

“We spend a lot of time out in the bush. We are out on the land as much as we can be, whether we are looking for traditional foods or just enjoying ourselves.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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