Still months away, municipal election a hot topic

Election is still three months away, but the list of declared candidates is growing, as in the list of those considering taking the plunge.

Already, the next municipal election is becoming one of the hot topics of conversation in Penticton.

And though that election is still three months away, the list of declared candidates is growing, as in the list of those considering taking the plunge.

Possible new faces include Andre Martin, Lynn Kelsey and Brian Henningson, who all ran in last year’s byelection, and are running again for councillor.

Henningson’s decision to run as councillor was based on feedback from the by-election, when he was trying for mayor. Many people, he said, told him they would be more willing to support him as councillor.

“I thought I would take some of that advice and run for councillor this year,” he said. “I just see a lot of frustrating things. You turn around and every time there is more money being wasted.”

Campbell Watt, who earlier said he would not run for council, says he is now considering entering the election, but won’t be doing it without consulting with boards of both the Downtown Penticton Association and the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, both of which groups he leads.

Boonstock organizer Barb Haynes is also putting herself on the “maybe” list.

“There are lots of things to consider, not the least of which, and probably the most important, is my family,” she said. “I love this city and I love this community and I would love to be a part of change.”

PHA director of operations, Tim Hodgkinson, is rumoured to be considering a run for mayor, is also not ready to confirm his plans.

Of the current council members, Couns. Andrew Jakubeit, Helena Konanz and Katie Robinson have all confirmed they are planning to run again. Wes Hopkin resigned earlier this month to return to university, while Coun. Judy Sentes said she is still considering her options.

Sentes, who is in her second term on council, said the new four-year terms play a big factor in deciding whether or not she wants to run again.

“I am going to take some time,” she said. “It is still a little early although getting close to the time of declaration. I am not at this point prepared other than to say I am seriously considering it.”

Likewise, Mayor Garry Litke isn’t fully committing himself. At this point, he said, he is running, but prefers to focus on the job at hand and the daily business of the city.

“There is still a couple of months to go. I am still performing my duties as I need to be. There are some really important issues for us to carry forward to UBCM,” said Litke, referring to the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference, Sept. 22 to 26.

Litke, who served as a councillor for four terms before becoming mayor, said there are still things to be done and wants to continue doing the job, but admits there is a lot of stress sitting in the big chair.

“It’s not so bad when the buck doesn’t stop at your desk, but when the buck stops at your desk, it’s stressful,” he said. “I will be evaluating that over the next month or so.”

Coun. John Vassilaki confirms he will be running for council, but isn’t ready to confirm the widespread rumour he is planning to try for the mayor’s chair.

“I haven’t decided whether I am going to make an announcement by the end of this month or right after the long weekend,” said Vassilaki, adding that he plans to “make a big deal out of it.”

Though Vassilaki said he is planning to wait to make his announcement, a John Vassilaki for Mayor Facebook page has already been created.