As part of our Penticton city by-election coverage, the Penticton Western News asked candidates to submit a bio about themselves, and to provide their answers to questions that are important to the community.
I’m James Miller and I’m presently the longest-tenured, full-time journalist in Penticton, coming here from Spruce Grove, Alta., in 2008 to become managing editor of The Penticton Herald (paid daily). Additionally, I held a two-and-a-half-year position where I also managed the Kelowna Daily Courier.
Since 2008, I’ve attended or watched almost all of the council meetings, developing a reputation of never being afraid to ask challenging questions when necessary. At a 2015 filibuster meeting, I was the lone person remaining in the gallery when it concluded at 1:05 a.m.
I’ve also shown the courage and skill to take leads in the community on issues, most recently with Interior Health cancelling its contract with Pathways Addictions Resource Centre (abominable) and, more famously, School District 67 denying it had a $1-million-plus deficit when in fact, an independent audit proved it did (dishonest).
“Local” is the theme of my campaign. I shop locally, I support locals. I live in Penticton. I love this city.
If elected, I offer a non-partisan voice, familiar with all issues, the players and the process. I have no hidden agendas. Penticton’s best interests will always come ahead of my own.
Q: How would you address the housing crisis?
A: I welcome more low-to-moderate income housing similar to The Rise on Nanaimo. It never makes the news because it never has issues. Reexamine the number of vacation rentals/secondary suites and if they are indeed being used for the purpose of long-term rentals for local workers.
Q: How would you address rising crime rates and social issues impacting Penticton?
A: Bring back Citizens on Patrol, reinstate a beat cop for the downtown and seek external funding for additional police/social workers because homeless from across the RDOS arrive here. Drive inmates from the Okanagan Correctional Centre to the town/city where they originally came from.
Q: Do you have a plan to support small business?
A: I shop and dine locally, supporting those who keep me employed as a journalist, and I encourage everyone to do the same whenever possible. Re-examine downtown parking rates. Ensure tax breaks for business properties filter down to the leaseholders who actually operate a business.
Q: Do you support more low-barrier supportive housing for the homeless or what do you think can address the addictions and mental health issues facing the community?
Low-barrier housing appears to not be working here and I agree with council’s recent actions, including the request for an audit of existing facilities. I’m dismayed that funding to Pathways Addictions Resource Centre was abruptly cut by Interior Health/Ministry of Health without consultation.
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