Both the young and young at heart are running for a position on Penticton city council this fall.
Frank Conci, 60, said he offers a voice of experience who understands the city’s economic challenges ahead.
He is a member of the Penticton Industrial Development Association and sits on the development services committee, in addition to working as the general manager of AC Motor Electric. He said he hopes to bring fiscal responsibility to the fore.
“I don’t think people realize how serious the economy is around here,” he said. “I’m very motivated to get involved and help do things we should have been doing years ago, but we’re just starting to look at now. We need to take some really immediate steps to try to turn things around.”
Conci said he’s hoping to “hold the line” on property and business taxes for six years, giving certainty in tough times by implementing strict spending controls like a moratorium on transit and bike lane spending and a net zero wage program for council and senior managers.
“Basically we need to improve the council decision-making process,” he said, suggesting the community should be engaged in the decision-making process and using local expertise in planning.
“We need to do some long-term planning: five, 10 and 20-year planning. That really needs to be a primary focus of council, and not be sidetracked by putting out fires.”
Conci has a website at www.frankconci.com with more information.
Wes Hopkin, 22, grew up in Penticton and recently returned to the community after studying political science at Harvard University. Upon returning earlier this year, he said he was concerned about whether youth played a factor in decision making at City Hall.
“I was somewhat upset that there wasn’t, in my view, sufficient representation for youth in the city either in the fact that the candidates aren’t focusing on those issues in the community or there wasn’t anyone from that part of the community to put their name forward,” he said. “I wanted to give back to the community to make sure those interests are represented.”
He said he was interested in civic politics having seen as a youth how municipal policy can trickle down to affect residents. As prices increase for ice time, he explains, the cost of hockey registrations go up. “It’s important that you have youth interests represented and people are aware of the impact of cuts to services to youth.”
Hopkin said he would like to boost municipal accountability by posting civic contracts on the city’s website, ensuring residents can read over the details of agreements Penticton has made with contractors and others. His website is at www.weshopkin2011.com.
He’s not the only political neophyte running. Poonam Chahal, 18, is a first-year UBC-Okanagan student studying sciences. As a former Miss Penticton candidate and volunteer on several boards and committees, she said it’s time for people her age to become involved in their community.
“I’m running to give youth a voice. We’ve let people who are older than us make the decisions for us and had no say in what was going on,” she said.
Her platform varies from the social to the economic. Chahal wants to connect youth with seniors, so each generation can learn from each other, and also wants to ensure there is vibrancy year-round.
“We are a tourist town, but that’s basically what we are. We don’t have a lot of people visit us in the wintertime, so that’s the downfall in our economy,” she said.
Engagement with all ages, however, remains her top priority.
“I just want more voters out there. Let’s bring up the voting percentage,” she said. “Considering only 33.4 per cent of our city went out for the last election to vote, we can do better. The majority is not voting for who’s on city council.”
There are 19 candidates running for council.