Election 2014: Penticton mayoral candidates vilified in poster capaign

City of Penticton: Two mayoral candidates find themselves portrayed as villains in posters plastered in downtown Penticton.

Coun. Andrew Jakubeit was somewhat surprised to see his face on this poster

Coun. Andrew Jakubeit was somewhat surprised to see his face on this poster

Andrew Jakubeit said he’d be happy to autograph posters of himself and fellow mayoral candidate John Vassilaki, should anyone care to bring one by.

Jakubeit is referring to posters that appeared Tuesday morning, pasted to storefronts and walls through downtown and portraying him and Vassilaki as villains from DC Comics’ Batman series.

This kind of negativity and behaviour gets amplified during election season, but it is always there, according to Jakubeit.

“They should be looking at this election as an opportunity to create change. That’s where their focus should be,” said Jakubeit, adding his concern that this kind of negativity and fears of having their reputation attacked might discourage others from running for office themselves.

“Now, good people who could make a difference in making our community go forward don’t put  their name forward,” he said. “I am not sure what people are hoping to accomplish with this poster. It is disappointing.”

The message the posters are trying to send is almost as mysterious as whoever posted them. Using a nighttime image of Penticton as a backdrop, Jakubeit is photoshopped to portray Bane, an assassin, and Vassilaki as Two-Face, an insane villain known for flipping a coin to decide between good and evil.

(Update, Oct. 2): Careful comparison of photos shows that the person pictured as The Joker on the poster is indeed Mayor Garry Litke.)

A third figure, The Joker, stands in front, but it is unclear who it is supposed to represent, as is the title at the top of the poster, “Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”

Whatever the message is, Vassilaki doesn’t like the negativity in this approach.

“If someone has an issue with me in particular, the only thing they have to do is come and talk to me,” said Vassilaki. “They are harming the community more than anything else.”

Vassilaki would rather people offer solutions rather than faceless criticism.

“If they think they can do a better job than we are doing, then run for those positions,” he said.

Leigh Follestad, acting president of the Downtown Penticton Association and owner of SmartShopper on Main Street, said the author of the poster could make better use of his time.

“It was a ridiculous waste of time and money for someone to do that. It doesn’t do anyone any good. The best way for any of those people to express their opinions is to come out and vote,” said Follestad. “If some of these people would use the same amount of time and energy that it took to do something as ridiculously stupid as that, and use it to do something good and beneficial, that would be great to see.”

Jakubeit said he is curious about who put the posters up, paid for them, and what their end goal really was, but other than his offer to sign posters, doesn’t plan to give it any more thought.

“It’s disturbing but not heinous,” said Jakubeit. “It’s unfortunate people wouldn’t channel that energy into getting people to vote or make some positive change.”

Jakubeit and Vassilaki are the only two candidates who have announced their intentions to run for mayor so far for the Nov. 15 municipal election.