Andrew Jakubeit started off his four-year term as Penticton’s mayor with an optimistic and enthusiastic inaugural speech that touched on energizing both council and community.
Newly sworn in Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit receives the chain of office from outgoing mayor Garry Litke.
Jakubeit was sworn in as mayor Monday night during a council meeting relocated to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre for the special event. Along with Jakubeit, Judy Sentes, Helena Konanz, Max Picton, Campbell Watt, Andre Martin and Tarik Sayeed were sworn in as councillors by Judge Gregory Koturbash.
In his speech, Jakubeit warned his fellow council members that the “honeymoon” period would end soon and they will be faced with difficult decisions, while the community will be wanting to see results.
“It is easy to get caught up in political rhetoric during an election cycle, but I want this term to be different,” said Jakubeit, who said he wanted this council to be one that inspires, empowers and reignites.
“I don’t want hear the same election promises four years later.”
The new mayor announced plans to create better communication channels, but also urged the public to gather all facts before criticizing.
“I don’t expect us all to hold hands, and be skipping down the lake shore path singing Kumbaya, but I do hope for a greater respect and renewed pride in our city,” he said.
Jakubeit focused heavily on the city’s economy in his speech, including announcing the structure of one of the task forces he promised in his campaign, on Economic Development and Prosperity, focusing on “creating strategic priorities for driving economic growth and vitality.”
Task force members include the mayor, representatives from business, industrial and financial sectors along with the economic development officer. Council members received specific assignments to work on developing Penticton as a training centre, leverage relationships, bolster manufacturing and attract tech sector businesses.
Another task force will focus on Tourism Development, with the board chair of Penticton Tourism, board chair of Penticton Hospitality Association, Coun. Max Picton, and staff representing tourism and the city as members.
“It is our welcome mat, the foot in the door to showcase Penticton as the place to visit again, move a business, start a business, move a family, start a family or retire here,” said Jakubeit.
Jakubeit said the task force would not be a third tourism group, but rather help develop and support Tourism Penticton and the PHA.
“It is important that we collaboratively work together as one voice,” said Jakubeit. “Tourism has long been a clash of personalities and we need to park our egos, emotions and baggage from the past at the door so we can create innovative solutions to brand Penticton as a premiere destination again.”
He also announced two portfolios: community revitalization was assigned to Couns. Max Picton and Campbell Watt to oversee continuing work on the downtown and waterfront projects; and an affordable communities portfolio assigned to Coun. Sentes.
Penticton MLA Dan Ashton congratulates Penticton City Council.
“Our first priority and focus will be solutions for Young Families and the working poor,” said Jakubeit. “Much of the initial year will be to research and analyze strategies utilized elsewhere, identifying city-owned lands to complement a strategy, and review existing land use policies.”
Jakubeit’s plans to forge ahead quickly, he said, will be tempered by lessons learned from problems such as the debacle resulting from the hockey dorm project failure.
“We learn with experience. Now in a situation where we try to help a business, we will probably be a lot more cautious, just because of that,” said Jakubeit. “You learn from your mistakes and try to move forward. I think we have a different mix of people in there. We are excited about the opportunity. We will take each opportunity and problem as they come along and tackle them.”