Frustration fuels entry into political arena

Vic Powell and Jukka Laurio among five candidates vying to become Penticton mayor

  • Oct. 20, 2011 7:00 p.m.
Frustration fuels entry into political arena

You may not recognize the names, but there are two additional challengers for the mayoralty in Penticton.

There are five candidates in total whose names will be on the ballot for mayor. While the likes of incumbent Dan Ashton, local realtor Julius Bloomfield and wine marketing consultant Katie Robinson have garnered attention, two additional campaigns got underway this week.

Vic Powell, 66, spent 33 years in the military, retiring as a sergeant major overseeing communications for the Department of National Defence. He moved to Penticton 12 years ago, and said he has become frustrated as a bystander watching the statements of the current council that misstate the severity of city finances.

“One of the big ones (issues) is to get businessmen off council and get citizens in there. The citizens are going to look after the tax money. These businessmen figure it’s a line of credit and they can just dig into it any time they want by raising taxes. That’s totally unacceptable,” he said.

“Non-residents of the city on council doesn’t work,” said Powell,referring to Ashton, who resides in Summerland. “It’s not going to work with a bunch of tourists that try calling them. The only reason they’re living outside the city is because they don’t like the taxes.”

Powell also said signs around town represent campaigns that are backed by outside interests that may come calling for favours later.

“Who’s backing them? Because they’re not footing the bill out of their own pocket. There’s some organization behind them,” he said, adding he wants to build accountability to the taxpayer as well.

“There seems to be no accountability right now.”

Jukka Laurio, 53, is also running for the position. He originally hails from Victoria, where the capital city draws thousands of visitors each year. After moving to Penticton seven years ago, Laurio said he has watched the city “stagnate.”

Tourism, he said, is the city’s main driver and the municipality needs to offer more

“Penticton used to be the place to go. Tourism built the city,” he said. “The industry we have here now, we should market it and use it as much as possible, but it would require an overall plan that everybody would have to participate in.”

He said he doesn’t intend on marketing Penticton as a manufacturing town, because “it’s not really designed or suited for those kinds of things.”

Laurio said he has a plan for the city which includes bolstering cultural offerings, which would be beneficial to the retirement community.

“Everybody wants something to do. I propose to make Penticton a place where everyone has something to do,” he said. “That will benefit the businesses, the restaurants and the hotels in summertime.”

He decided to seek the mayoralty instead of councillor to ensure his vision would be put forward.

“I do believe the position of the mayor is to provide leadership and provide vision, and is the one who comes up with a plan and directs the plan,” said Laurio. “I happen to have a plan.”