Businessman Jason Cox announced his intention to run for Penticton mayor this fall. Steve Kidd/Western News

Jason Cox running for mayor

Penticton business man second to announce mayoral intentions

The last part of the secret has been revealed.

“It is time for a fundamentally different approach to Penticton. If you want the same, then keep electing the same. If you want real change, elect me as mayor,” said Jason Cox to a crowd assembled at Time Winery Thursday afternoon.

Earlier this week, Cox, who has previously run for office, called his plans to run for municipal office “the worst-kept secret in Penticton.” Though he didn’t call it such then, Cox started his campaign last October, hosting a series of sessions to talk about community issues.

The only thing that wasn’t clear was whether he would run for a councillor position or the mayor’s chair.

“I’ve spent three to four hours a day having conversations with people … just finding a sense of what the issues are and how to solve them, and how I can best help,” said Cox. “I was trying to decide how I could help and what position I should run for in order to be most helpful.”

Some, he said, have told him that he should be on council before he tried for the mayor’s position, a traditional way of learning the ropes. Cox’s take on that is that he wants to bring change, not perpetuate the same system. Those running for office, he added, often focus on issues affecting the community, a conversation he wants to change.

“I want to talk about solutions, not just problems. This campaign will be about solutions,” he said. “It is for the city to provide open, steady planning, that doesn’t just chase change for the sake of change or chase shiny objects.”

Change is often talked about in elections, but Cox said he wants to be more focused.

“People can get elected talking about change, without actually knowing what the change is they are there to present.”

Economic Investment Zones are one example, saying they were useful when the economy was waning, but have outlived their usefulness.

“This government still clings to economic investment zones like a dogma. There comes a point after ten years where it is not an incentive, it is an expectation,” said Cox.

As president of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, Cox said he and the chamber supported the concept of improvements to the Skaha Lake Marina. But the deal made with Trio Marine was poorly handled and council didn’t listen to the people rallying outside city hall, or give the people all the information.

“I think people have grown distrustful of a government that does a deal behind the scenes. We need to address this differently,” Cox said. “The insult to injury on this is not only do we not have Trio able to fulfill their vision of creating an improved marina site … we are now paying for it, but somehow ended up hiring one of the (Trio) principals back to do the work. It’s a boondoggle that you can’t even wrap your mind around.

“It comes back to proper due diligence in the first place, understanding who you are doing the deal with, making sure the deal makes sense and then having a discussion with the community.”

Cox, who owns The People’s Soda Company, a craft soft drink manufacturing business, has been an active member of a number of boards and committees, including three terms as president of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce.

His love of the political realm started young. Cox said he has been active in politics since age 16 when he got involved with the Progressive Conservative party.

‘It changed my life. I was probably on a bad track before that. I figured out that one individual, a 16-year-old kid from B.C., could make a difference in public policy and I’ve been hooked ever since,” said Cox.

After moving to Penticton in 2004, Cox said his focus changed to more community-based public policy.

“I’ve been more involved with organizations like the chamber and the B.C. chamber, advocating for people more directly than through the party system,” said Cox.

The list of groups Cox has been involved with is a long one, including the Canadian Mental Health Association, the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society and the Okanagan International Children’s Festival as well as a number of City of Penticton advisory committees.

Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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