Don’t know who to vote for in Oct. 20 municipal elections? We have suggestions
Ten first-time candidates from the Okanagan Valley who you may want to consider voting for on Oct. 20
Incumbents have a huge advantage (especially in Kelowna; Summerland, not so much) when they seek re-election in municipal politics. It’s all name recognition.
People often say they’d like to vote for someone new, but don’t know who to vote for, and end up going with recognizable names (incumbents).
We’ve been following the municipal elections for mayor, council and school board in the Central and South Okanagan closely over the past month.
Here are some first-time candidates — across the valley — who you may want to consider voting for.
PHILIP AKINS West Kelowna
In West Kelowna, Philip Akins is a candidate voters might want to spend the last week of the election campaign learning more about.
He’s only lived in the community for a decade, having married into the well-known and long-established Paynter family, but Akins strikes us as a thoughtful, compassionate, and intelligent aspiring politician.
He has a doctoral degree in government, and a master’s degree in conflict resolution, two educational qualities that might come in handy on the often lively West Kelowna council.
His platform calls for more police, which many candidates trumpet, but also suggests the city get involved in the provision of social housing, which would be new ground for the decade-old municipality.
Akins would like to see more taxpayerfunded amenities like bike paths and recreation centres, but also recognizes the benefits of the municipality supporting and facilitating responsible development and growth.
JOHN ARCHER Penticton
If elected, John Archer will be the first openly-gay councillor in Penticton’s history. He’s been active with the South Okanagan Similkameen Pride group as treasurer and he and his husband were married in a public ceremony at the Penticton Art Gallery on a week that celebrate diversity.
Archer donates much of his time to the art gallery, but he’d like to become a city councillor.
He certainly has tons of life experiences. He spent 10 years as a court reporter, later owning his own court reporting business. He was involved with the Vancouver real estate market and gave it all up to relocate to the Okanagan where he operated a 4.5-star bed and breakfast. With tourism being an economic driver of Penticton, he has experience in that field.
Most important, Archer is an extremely smart individual. He’s passionate, but also calm and reasonable.
MARJORIE BRIMS Peachland
Marjorie Brims is as refreshing as a tall glass of lemonade on a hot summer day.
She’s running for the position of school board trustee in the District of Peachland and Tsinstikeptum IR No. 9 and No. 10 (Zone II).
She had a long and successful career with Interior Health, working in the physio department which led to being in charge of occupational health and safety in Kelowna.
Born in Scotland, she has a Masters degree in health studies from Athabasca University. Although she’s lived in Peachland for only a relatively short period of time, she’s become active on numerous committees.
As a former Girl Guide leader, she certainly has the compassion and understanding that young people face.
She’s running on a campaign of “positive change” and, if elected, would definitely bring a welcome and fresh perspective to the Central Okanagan School Board.
She looks like a winner to us.
ISAAC GILBERT Penticton
With 24 candidates seeking one of six spots on Penticton city council, it’s tough for the new candidates to create any kind of a buzz.
Isaac Gilbert, a park ranger who has been involved in multiple projects within the City of Penticton, has done remarkably well in the forums, considering he only has three to four minutes to showcase his platform.
He has been carless for six years and is a huge advocate of public transit, ride and car sharing, and cycling.
Gilbert, 31, is capable of thinking outside of the box and founded the Peach Gravy Theatre Cooperative.
As the second-youngest candidate running for Penticton city council, he has captured the imagination of youth voters.
KATHY PIERRE SD67 Rural trustee
A school teacher and educational administrator with the Penticton Indian Band, Pierre is seeking a spot on the Okanagan Skaha School District 67 as their rural trustee, representing West Bench, Kaleden, Naramata and parts of the Penticton Indian Reserve.
As Canadians are taking baby steps at reconciliation with First Nations communities, an excellent start would be electing Pierre to the school board.
Our schools are diverse, and so should our school trustees. The Okanagan Skaha board has a habit of re-electing middle-aged white women and men time and time again. Pierre’s passion, ever since the age of seven, has been education. Her mother was a residential schools survivor, but still encouraged her daughter to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.
Pierre’s platform extends well beyond First Nations issues as she would be a strong advocate for all students and teachers.
FRANK REGEHR Penticton
It’s not often you get the chance to elect a retired public-sector finance professional to city council, but that’s the opportunity in front of Penticton voters who will see the name Frank Regehr on their ballots.
He retired in 2010 after serving 22 years as secretary-treasurer for the Okanagan Skaha school district and its predecessors, and more recently has become one of city council’s sharpest watchdogs by analyzing annual budgets.
It’s quite possible he already understands city finances better than anyone on the present city council. If elected, staff wouldn’t be able to BS him. In addition to his financial pedigree, he’s also campaigned on commitments to parks, arts and culture and finding a way to get satellite communities to pay a fairer share towards Penticton’s recreational facilities.
DUSTIN SARGENT Kelowna
It’s fashionable in some circles to think of Kelowna city council as a bunch of heartless right-wingers beholden to business interests.
But the truth is, of the nine people on the current council, only two have experience owning and running a business. Maybe that’s a big reason why municipal taxes have soared 16 per cent in just four years.
This year’s field of council candidates is noticeably slimmer than for past elections, and few of the first time aspirants have as varied a business background as Dustin Sargent.
A past president of the Downtown Kelowna Association, he’s been involved with businesses such as Soma Craft Cider and Kelowna CrossFit, and has admirable experience in the social housing sector.
Married with three kids, Sargent says he’s running in part to help ensure they grow up in a prosperous and compassionate community.He’s worth your consideration next Saturday.
DAVE STATHERS Summerland
Stathers retired from teaching last June, but is still passionate for education and students and is running for a spot on the Okanagan Skaha School District. His stellar 30-year teaching career at Summerland Secondary School included donating his time as coach of the basketball team.
Stathers’ platform is putting Summerland first, something that’s been sadly lacking over the past four years. He promises to battle to keep Trout Creek School open (which was scheduled to close) and to lobby for long-overdue upgrades to the high school’s gymnasium.
His own kids went through the school and he lived a dream when in the final year of his career, one of his colleagues was his daughter, Melissa.
His professional career extended beyond teaching. In his 20s, he was a journalist for nearly a decade.
DAN WALTON Penticton
Traditionally journalists have done well when they’ve run for public office. In Kelowna, Mayor Colin Basran and Coun. Mohini Singh were one-time CHBC reporters. Charlie Hodge is a retired journalist.
Former Penticton mayor Maurice Finnerty owned the local radio station. On a larger scale, provincial premiers Ralph Klein and Christy Clark were former radio personalities. Sure, some of it is name recognition, but as reporters, they do understand what’s going on.
Enter Dan Walton. The editor of The Peachland View and a former reporter at the Penticton Western News is running for a position on the school board.
Still in his 20s, single and childless, Walton is both inexperienced and a tad naive, but he’s certainly well aware of the issues having covered the contentious school closures in the Okanagan School District in 2016. The people in Peachland love him. He’s the breath of fresh air that the school board is sadly missing.
LOYAL WOOLDRIDGE Kelowna
If Loyal Wooldridge is elected to Kelowna council in the Oct. 20 civic election, he will be the city’s first openly gay councillor.
But don’t vote for Wooldridge because he’s gay and don’t not vote for him because he’s gay. His campaign platform extends well beyond human rights.
The owner of Loyal Hair salon promises to bring his both his business mind and social heart to council chambers.
After all, he’s the man who has melded the I Am Me and Own It empowerment and anti-bullying mottos and campaigns in to both his business and his philanthropy.
“My vision is to encourage responsible, sustainable advancement of Kelowna by continuing to come together as a collective community and inspire positive, inclusive advancement,” he said.
“I believe a comprehensive community and vibrant economy is achieved by using strong business practices with a compassionate heart.”
Wooldridge’s four election campaign pillars are housing affordability and availability, transportation revolution, tourism and jobs and complete community.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Okanagan Top 10 is a weekly opinion piece on topics ranging from politics to public parks and from music to coffee shops.
This week’s list was limited to first-time candidates who have never run for public office.
Final choices were made by valley editor James Miller, based on input from reporters who are presently covering elections.
To comment on this, or any story in the Okanagan Weekend edition, please email: email@example.com.