Losing the Penticton mayor’s seat to John Vassilaki, both the incumbent and other main contender said they wouldn’t have done anything differently if they knew at the beginning how the essential vote-splitting would pan out.
Incumbent Andrew Jakubeit and Jason Cox garnered 2,564 and 2,621 votes respectively, while Vassilaki tallied 5,144 — in what many called a three-way race.
“People can second guess a campaign or rationale for Saturday’s outcome but it doesn’t change the reality of today,” said Jakubeit. “I’m proud of how I ran my campaign and what we accomplished this past 10 years. I was surprised, disappointed and thought the spreads would be different (though).”
“It was a big surprise, it certainly went against the consensus of what was going to happen in terms of being a really close finish,” said Cox. “I would’t have done anything differently though, I might have pointed more to the challenges that John will have in the debates more than I did Andrew.”
Penticton Western News talked with voters outside of the election stations in the city during the election day and many said they were unhappy with past council decisions. The Skaha Lake water park was cited multiple times as an example of poor decision-making on council and a lack of communication.
“In politics, you’re only as good as your last vote and typically the mayor takes the heat for decisions of council, so it makes it difficult for an incumbent and attractive for opponents to run,” said Jakubeit.
Just 36 per cent of eligible voters in the province cast a ballot in B.C.’s municipal election last weekend – a figure largely unchanged from prior years. According to Civic Info BC, Penticton had about 41 per cent of eligible voters turnout this election, an increase from the 33 per cent that voted in 2014.
“I think (some) voters may have already made their minds up before this election even started. And the ones that we needed to get inspired by talk of the future stayed home,” said Cox. “I think the outcome shows across the board what the voters were going for, I don’t think that I would have gotten a council seat either given the age and experience the councillors who got elected have.”
Aside from Vassilaki who previously served on council, Judy Sentes, Jake Kimberley and Campbell Watt all have prior experience and were voted in as councillors on Saturday. Watt will be the youngest sitting councillor.
Jakubeit and Cox both say despite the outcome that they will continue to advocate for the city and be apart of community organizations and causes as they have done over the years.
“I love this community and I have dedicated myself for the last 15 years to being vocal and being a leader in this community and that’s not going to change,” said Cox. “The age of this council is not representative of the community and I think that some of the ideas that I addressed in my campaign around reducing homelessness and crime and increasing small business activity… are things I’m going to stay involved in and (I will) continue to push for that change.”
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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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