Election 2014: Councillor comment boosts motivation for young Penticton voters

City of Penticton: Young Penticton voters motivated to discuss issues after city councillor's comments.

She may have apologized for it, but the ripples from Coun. Katie Robinson’s “head-banging druggie” comment continue to grow, with no signs of stopping.

It even seems to have started a new fashion trend, after a number of people were spotted at the Alice in Chains concert wearing tank tops reading “Head-Banging Druggie” with the hashtag #votekatieout in big letters below.

“I am a hard working, professional woman. I enjoy music and music festivals and she categorized me as a drug addict,” said Crystal Olson, a 36-year-old Penticton receptionist and part of the group that came up with the idea of putting Robinson’s comment on shirts.

Robinson’s comment, she said, opened her eyes to what she sees as close-mindedness on council. And after word about the shirts and images spread through social media, more people want to get involved.

“I have a ton of people asking for more T-shirts,” said Olson. “Everybody is already talking about this. It was a great opportunity for us to start getting going. It got people’s attention and now we can add on it. We can let them know it is time for change.”

The snowball continued to grow on Monday, when Jennifer Taylor started a new Facebook group, TimeForChangePenticton. In its first six hours, it gathered over 1,000 followers and by Tuesday afternoon had topped 2,000.

Taylor, who owns and operates a marketing company, Taylormade Ideas, said she had a gut feeling the group would grow quickly.

“It (Robinson’s comment) was a pivotal moment for a lot of youth in Penticton. This is about a council that isn’t recognizing what the future of the city is. And that is youth,” she said. “I have a 15-year-old son and I want a future for him. And I want a future for myself. I am only 50 years old and I identify with this group immensely.”

Taylor said the plan was to capitalize on the buzz generated by the shirt campaign, though she didn’t want the message to be overshadowed by Robinson’s comment.

The real effect of Robinson’s comment, she said, was to strike a chord with the youth demographic, who don’t usually turn out to vote.

“If you read the wall at TimeForChangePenticton, there are a lot of intelligent ideas being tossed around right now,” said Taylor. “Let’s get a group together, listen to their common voice and get some momentum building. They need to know that their vote can count.”

The group’s intent, she continued is to register as a constituency, then carefully interview, research and question candidates for the upcoming election.

“It’s about building a strong representative council and not necessarily people who are just wanting to appeal to the youth. It is about a future for Penticton and that is really what our core message is,” said Taylor.”

“We all want a bright economic future for us to stay, to raise families, buy homes, furnish homes, grocery shop, etc. Currently the political climate is not encouraging that.”