A couple of candidates are campaigning on bringing common sense to Penticton City Hall.
Kevin Noonan ran his family meat-packing business in Edmonton, before selling it in 1997 to embrace retirement. He has lived in Penticton since 2004, and was prompted to run for council after hearing civic officials tout themselves to be fiscal conservatives when big expenditures are conducted.
“Let’s stop the lip service. Let’s make these terms like transparency and fiscal responsibility mean something again,” he said.
Noonan said he feels the city’s top priority should be to pay down the debt, which won’t be easy if a deja-vu plays out of past experiences further afield.
“At lot of it’s the economy. The world is in the worst economic situation it’s been in since the Dirty ’30s. It needs to be addressed. I went through the Klein era of Alberta, and they got rid of the debt and set up a bit of a buffer, the Heritage Trust Fund. It served the province very well,” he said. “That should be done in Penticton. Why shouldn’t we have a little buffer? Why should we be deficit spending?”
Randy Kirkoski’s platform also surrounds what he calls “dollars and sense,” looking to curb increases on tax bills.
“The city should manage the taxpayers’ money in a more responsible and fiscal manner, not just raise taxes when they need more money,” Kirkoski noted in his written platform, adding that the city should also focus on not losing its talent. “We need to attract and/or keep our younger people into the community. There are not enough well-paying jobs to do this. We have to promote new businesses into the community.”
Kirkoski has lived in the Okanagan since 1987, when he joined the Penticton RCMP detachment. He worked as an underwater dive team specialist. He retired in 2001, now using his time to volunteer for the Kinsmen, directing security for Ironman Canada and sitting as a director for the Peach Festival and Fest of Ale.
He wants to see more activities and weekend events held throughout fall and winter. “We need events to run year-round and events that will give the city a positive spin or keep putting it on the map,” he said.
Burga Black said she’s really concerned about budgets, and feels Penticton council needs “to get back to basics.”
“I guess my concern is we don’t have any affordable housing. We put up these fancy luxury houses and they’re empty. That’s not contributing to the economy the city,” she said. “I believe we are our brother’s keeper. We’re not providing housing, we’re not providing jobs, we’re not providing a safe community.”
Her work with the Rebecca Lodge has shown her the level of need in the community and said action must be taken immediately. She was discussing the city’s direction with a neighbour recently who suggested a long-term view should be taken.
“Honey, I’m not going to live for the next 20 or 30 years. What can you do right now? We can’t wait 10 years when you don’t have any food in the house right now,” Black said.
David Greenwood said he offers a unique perspective because not many people can volunteer in situations similar to his. The 35-year-old manages the Chatters Salon in Cherry Lane shopping centre and is a father to three children under five years.
“It’s a very difficult thing for people to do in my position, to have a young family and be in business to put themselves out there for council,” he said, noting current-day policy reflects that. “I really believe that people like myself should be because quite regularly, in a lot of municipalities, we’re not represented on council. I thought it was my civic responsibility to get out there.”
Terry Yeatman is the owner and operator of Terry’s Pool and Service who moved to the area four years ago from Kamloops. “We love the city. We brag it up all over the place. I just want to give back in the community,” he said.
Yeatman said he wants to bring fresh ideas to council. He said decisions made in the past need to be in line with current conditions.
“I’d love to get some of these empty stores filled up. It’s so difficult for them to do business here. Make it easy for them to do business here. If we don’t have more industry or get our economy going, all of our young people are going to leave,” he said.