Municipal elections heat up as more candidates step up

The political climate is heating up, as more incumbents and hopefuls declare their candidacy for Penticton council elections this fall.

  • Sep. 15, 2011 1:00 p.m.

The political climate is heating up, as more incumbents and hopefuls declare their candidacy for Penticton council elections this fall.

There will likely be three names on the ballot for mayor in November, as former city councillor Katie Robinson announced this week she would seek the mayoralty. Having served on council for almost a decade nearly 10 years ago, Robinson said she wanted to return to civic politics to ensure municipal facilities are used to their potential, including the South Okanagan Events Centre and Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.

“I just really feel strongly here that we need to head in a different direction,” Robinson said, adding that as a former financial advisor, she feels it’s important to get back to “serious fiscal responsibility.”

While the core services review cuts were headed in the right direction, she said, her “main objection would be the process in which it should be done.

“I’m not convinced that there were fair discussions, so it led to a lot of misunderstanding between the staff and city hall,” she said. “There are times when cuts to have to be made, and you have to make hard decisions. I don’t have a problem with that. I think there’s away of doing it that’s fair to everyone involved.”

Her entry confirms that there will be a race for the mayoralty. Current Mayor Dan Ashton began indicating in December that he would seek another term. However, he has not made a formal announcement regarding his intentions. Benny Wolfe has also said he would put his name forward for mayor.

Others who currently sit around the council table are also eyeing their plans this fall. Coun. Andrew Jakubeit announced he would seek another term. He joins colleagues Garry Litke, Judy Sentes and John Vassilaki as incumbents who have declared their names will be on the ballot. The 20-year Penticton resident and local businessman said he had intended to bring another perspective to council, which had previously been dominated by retired individuals.

“I hoped to bring a younger perspective to it. I don’t think there had been a voice for the young families,” he said, adding there was plenty of tough choices that had to be made in his first term.

“What I liked being a part of this council was nothing was taboo. We looked at everything, listened to the community. If you’ve done what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got. We tried to be innovative,” he said.

Looking ahead, the would-be sophomore councillor said economic development will be incredibly important to Penticton’s future. “That’s an area that we need to spend a lot more focus and energy on,” Jakubeit said.

There is at least one vacant seat on council to date, after the departure of former councillor Dan Albas who won the federal Okanagan-Coquihalla seat for the Conservatives. (Coun. Mike Pearce told the Western News that he would make a decision on his possible bid for re-election just prior to the closure date for nominations.)

Two political neophytes have declared their intentions to run for the vacant seat. Helena Konanz, the former Coffee Couch entrepreneur, announced her candidacy this summer, while Jeannie Cavallo announced this week that she would also be seeking a seat on council. Cavallo, 34, is a realtor with Re/Max Front Street Realty who has lived in the city since 2004. She volunteers at the Penticton Soupateria and holds an annual fundraising golf tournament to benefit Pathways Addictions Resource Centre.

“I want Penticton to be a healthy and thriving community my children will want to raise their families in,” she said. “I hope that more people will get involved in this election; this is where their votes really count and make a difference. We need to get involved with our city.”

The nomination period begins at 9 a.m. on Oct. 4. Candidates have until 4 p.m. on Oct. 14 to hand in their papers.