John Vassilaki couldn’t contain himself as the results for mayor were read out Saturday night at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre Saturday night, pumping his fists in the air and shouting. Mark Brett/Western News

John Vassilaki couldn’t contain himself as the results for mayor were read out Saturday night at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre Saturday night, pumping his fists in the air and shouting. Mark Brett/Western News

John Vassilaki takes Penticton mayor’s chair

Vassilaki is back on Penticton city council, but now he’s mayor

John Vassilaki is back on Penticton city council, though this time he will be sitting in the mayor’s chair thanks to receiving 5,144 votes in the 2018 civic election.

“You don’t know how thrilled I am to have this honour from the community, to serve them again after four years of being off city council,” said Vassilaki. The election reversed the results of the 2018 election when Vassilaki first made a try for mayor. That time, Jakubeit came out on top, with 5,126 votes compared to Vassilaki’s 3,012.

This time around, Andrew Jakubeit ended up splitting the majority of the vote with the other front-runner, Jason Cox. Cox ended the evening with 2,621 votes, leaving Jakubeit in third place with 2,564 votes.

Related: Three businessmen vying for Penticton mayor

The other three candidates for mayor were James Blake (312 votes), Dominic Wheeler (76 votes) and Jukka Laurio (41 votes).

Outgoing Mayor Andrew Jakubeit

Jakubeit suggested the results might be an overall shift, with an older demographic voting versus the younger demographic that elected him and other younger councillors in 2014.

Then, too, there was the two-year-long controversy over leasing part of Skaha Lake Park to private interests.

Related: Column: After four years, Skaha Lake Park issue has an ending

“I think a lot of the animosity over Skaha Park, despite the change in engagement, despite putting a park-use protection policy in, I think that was a lot for people to get over,” said Jakubeit.

“It is what it is and it will take a day or two to get over it. Then life will move on, and I will have a chance to focus a bit more on my businesses or find something else to do.

“I can look back and be proud of some of the things we accomplished here in Penticton over the last 10 years.”

Vassilaki, a 72-year-old developer with significant holdings in the community, especially downtown, was a city councillor for a dozen years before making his first mayoral run in 2014.

He says his age won’t be a factor.

“I have more energy than most 40 or 50-year-olds,” said Vassilaki. “I am always raring to go. I am up at 5 o’clock in the morning and I work eight to 10 hours a day. I am going to make this job a full-time job.”

In his campaign, Vassilaki said his priorities were improved safety for all citizens, improved prosperity with increased household incomes and managing community assets for future generations.

Saturday, he said working on issues related to homelessness and drug addiction were going to be some of his first priorities.

“We have to start tackling making it safe for the community,” said Vassilaki. “We have to clean up the downtown.”

Vassilaki, who is often seen walking through downtown, says he doesn’t plan to change that behaviour.

“I’m a downtown guy. I like walking down the streets and talking to people, going into the businesses and talking to my friends,” said Vassilaki. “The people of Penticton are my second family.”

Jakubeit, who has served on Penticton city council for a decade, says he isn’t sure if he will return to politics in four years, as Vassilaki did. He’ll have to see where his career takes him and whether his passion for politics is still there in 2022.

“That’s four years away. It is a long time,” said Jakubeit.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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