Candidates step up for municipal byelections

Candidates have begun to declare themselves for the upcoming Penticton municipal byelection

Candidates step up for municipal byelections

Andre Martin, a longtime volunteer on several committees and the former general manager of the Penticton Herald, said a number of people urged him to run for councillor.

“I just think we need to work on building more business in the community,” said Martin, who has set out a four-element platform: economic development; creating neighbourhood associations; amalgamating neighbouring areas now in the regional district and engaging youth.

“I want  a way to get youth involved in their community and also take notice of what goes on in council and politics around it,” said Martin. “I think we need to do a better job of getting through to them.”

And neighbourhood associations, Martin explains, will help prevent issues like the recent controversy surrounding the Perseus winery.

“There are lots of different things associations can do and part of it is getting neighbours to talk to each other,” said Martin.

Martin is president of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, as well as being a member of the Challenge Triathlon board, a past member of the Downtown Penticton Association and a member of Penticton’s Downtown Revitalization Committee.

His past experience, Martin said, will help him if elected to council.

“There is going to be a bit of a learning curve,” Martin admitted. But sitting around a board table or the council table involves a lot of the same work according to Martin. “Listen to all the opinions and then make a decision.”

Katie Robinson, who served three terms on council starting in 1990, said her biggest advantages is she is one of the few people who can hit the ground running if elected.

“There is a fairly substantial learning curve if you have not been on council before,” said Robinson. “Because there is only one year left in the term, most people would just be figuring out what is going on by the time the  term would be over.”

Robinson also ran for mayor in 2011, placing third behind Dan Ashton and Julius Bloomfield. The city’s finances, she said, will always be the first and foremost issue.

“I would like to focus on a long-term strategy for where Penticton wants to head, because I don’t see that at the moment,” said Robinson. There are many issues facing the city, she said. The South Okanagan Events Centre is no longer the issue it was during the last municipal election, but Robinson thinks more needs to be done for the Trade and Convention Centre.

“That’s a pretty valuable asset to have, which is not being used to its full potential,” she said.

Robinson is also advocating for more openness at the council level with less in camera meetings and a return to the committee of the whole structure.

“Unless it’s land, labour or legal it should be discussed where the public can see what is going on. There are very few things you need to have dealt with in camera,” she said. “From what I have observed over the last few years, issues get too far down the road without the public being aware of it first.”

Lynn Kelsey ran for a council seat in 2011, and although she didn’t win, she promised she would be back in 2014.

“When this opportunity came up in the by-election, I felt it was really important for me to keep to the commitment to run again,” said Kelsey. “I come to as many council meetings as I can make and try to stay involved in what is going on in the city. I really feel I bring a fresh and intelligent look to council.”

Kelsey said her work as a community advocate gives her a unique view of what Penticton has to offer.

“I know the services the city offers and where there are gaps,” said Kelsey. “I spend most of my waking day advocating for others. I have incredibly good listening skills.”

Kelsey plans to campaign on a platform of truth, trust and transparency.

“I feel there’s a real need for transparency. I believe they (Penticton citizens) need to be informed of things before the fact and not just advised of them after the decision is all made,” said Kelsey, who would also like to see a return to committee of the whole meetings.

“When there are so many in camera meetings, decisions being made, I don’t feel the people of Penticton are really given the opportunity to really know what is going on,” said Kelsey. “I believe the committee of the whole gives a much more transparent view.”

Vic Powell is ready for another run at the Penticton mayoralty, even though he only garnered 472 votes in the 2011 municipal election.

“I didn’t expect to win as a first time runner,” said Powell, who didn’t put up any election signs in 2011.

“This time I am putting up my own money, I am going to put out election signs, at my expense, no one else’s,” said Powell, who doesn’t want to feel any obligations. “Nobody has ever paid me to go out and get a job. So why should I ask people for support financially?”

Powell contends city hall is neglecting Penticton’s infrastructure.

“The only reason they are doing work on the (Okanagan) lake shore is because it has been neglected for years,” said Powell. “Tax money is collected to support your infrastructure, and they haven’t been doing that.”

Powell points to McLaren and Memorial arenas as two more examples of failing infrastructure.

“Memorial Arena has needed a new roof for the last five to 10 years but we just keep patching it,” said Powell, concerned the roof is being allowed to deteriorate so badly it will not be economically feasible to restore.

“I want to start looking after the infrastructure of the city itself,” said Powell, who plans to run on a platform of honest and open leadership.

“What comes out of city hall is not the truth. You have situations like the Eckhardt properties — allowing somebody to go ahead prior to closure is totally ridiculous. Why was that allowed to happen?” asked Powell.