What do we truly want Penticton to be? A vibrant place, the jewel of the South Okanagan, sustainable, yet open to economic and cultural ideas from further afield?
Or do we want it to fossilize into “a small town even smaller than its size” as a cynic recently quipped, noting attitudes that have come out during this campaign.
We have a candidate for mayor who lives just minutes beyond the city limits, along our famous Naramata Bench. In tourist brochures, we proudly lay claim to the wineries along that bench (and we enjoy the tourist revenues) whether the grapes grow within city limits or not.
Yet there are individuals who would like us to shrink back, to cower and throw up a barrier along the Naramata road, to disqualify a truly excellent candidate who lives just minutes further along — a candidate who has been a realtor in Penticton for 19 years, a property-owner here too. A candidate who is on the board of the Downtown Penticton Association, who is co-founder of the Penticton Urban-Agriculture Association, and has volunteered for numerous other good causes around the city including the Soupateria, and whose children have gone to Penticton schools (indeed all Naramata students attend Penticton secondary schools). It’s remarkable, some people are maintaining that this talented and dedicated candidate, who has played a significant role here over many years, should not be eligible to take part in the city’s governance.
But surely the issue is political, not geographical at all — surely the “non-resident” argument is a red herring, intended to shoo us in the direction of some other candidate, without anyone directly coming out and saying so.
We are lucky to have four candidates running for mayor in this election — hats off to them all, for the dedication and effort entailed. But the election of a mayor should be based on who will make the city move forward in the successful way it deserves, and not on a bit of bafflegab about who lives a quarter of an inch closer or further on the map.