Two new candidates for Penticton City Council threw their hats in the ring this past week.
Tarik Sayeed, a 36-year-old local entrepreneur, said he prepared for this over the last three months, working with his team to develop a platform, build a website, even order T-shirts.
Sayeed was inspired to run for council, he explained, while looking for a candidate he could support. One woman he was chatting with turned the question around and asked him why he wasn’t running himself.
“It made me think about it. I see it as an extension of my civic responsibility,” said Sayeed.
Though he’s only lived in Penticton since 2008, Sayeed thinks his work in the community shows how involved he has become. In turn, he incorporated those elements in his platform: supporting economic growth through embracing technology, environmental care and social belonging.
“I am working in all three of those areas. It is not like a vision I have, it is something I am already working on,” said Sayeed. “After I announced on Facebook, I am getting support already, so I am quite confident about it. I am here to win this.”
Sayeed’s projects include the Zero Plastic Bags initiative, a campaign promoting the use of reusable or compostable bags at grocery stores. He’s also working with motion capture technology to develop a device that translates sign language gestures into text and voice.
With an MBA from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and certifications in management and leadership, Sayeed said his relative youth isn’t a barrier.
“I see it as an advantage. Not only am I young, but I have been a manager for many years,” he said. “I have taken a lot of leadership courses and have taken leadership roles. If anything, I think I come with a much broader experience.”
Sayeed has also been a guest speaker at TEDx Penticton, and has also been invited to speak at TEDx Toronto, where he will be presenting in front of close to 1,000 audience members and delegates on Oct. 2.
“To me that is a very proud moment, because I not only get to represent the work I am doing, the social aspect of it, but I get to represent Penticton,” said Sayeed.
Steve Boultbee got a taste of Penticton politics after lobbying for improved fire protection in his Spiller Road neighbourhood, where a neighbouring home was destroyed by fire in 2012.
The water supply and fire hydrants in the area are years away from being improved, but Boultbee said is grateful for small victories.
“They have acknowledged that it needs to be done and it will be done in time,” said the 57-year-old Boultbee father of three, who owns Boultbee Vegetation Management. He remains an advocate of installing more hydrants in rural areas, saying it would be less expensive to o it now rather than waiting for more intensive development.
“I think it is cheaper than waiting for the disaster,” he said.
Fire services, Boultbee said, form an important part of his platform. One of the first things he would like to accomplish on council is to restore the two firefighter positions cut in the 2014 city budget.
A long-time member of Penticton’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, Boultbee said he has strong ties to that sector of the economy.
“As a young man, I wanted to grow apples. But I couldn’t make the numbers work,” said Boultbee, explaining that desire evolved into his weed control business.
“There is no shortage of weeds. It is what I call a renewable resource,” joked Boultbee. But his experience running his own company, he continued, will translate well into being a city councillor.
“I have been self-employed since I was in my mid-20s,” he said. “When you are head cook and bottle washer, you do a lot of things.”