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Kelowna businesswoman first to toss her hat into civic election ring

Alistair Waters/Capital News Local businesswoman Tracy Gray announces her candidacy for a seat on Kelowna council in the upcoming civic election in November at a camapign kick-of event at the Rotary Centre For The Arts. Gray is the first non-incumbent to publicly announce her candidacy for a councillor positon.  - Alistair Waters/Capital News
Alistair Waters/Capital News Local businesswoman Tracy Gray announces her candidacy for a seat on Kelowna council in the upcoming civic election in November at a camapign kick-of event at the Rotary Centre For The Arts. Gray is the first non-incumbent to publicly announce her candidacy for a councillor positon.
— image credit: Alistair Waters/Capital News

She may have the same last name and be married to his nephew, but Tracy Gray is not launching her bid for public office in Kelowna on the coattails of the city's outgoing popular mayor, Walter Gray.

"I've always driven my own ship and drummed to my own beat," said Tracy Gray, when asked if she thought her last name will help her at the polls come November. "More people know me for what I have done."

Gray, a successful local businesswoman who owns the Discovery Wines store in Orchard Plaza and is a former general manager of Granville Island Brewing, has also served on the boards of several non-profit groups and volunteered with many others. Snd currently sits on the board of Prospera Credit Union.

Gray, 44, has lived in Kelonwa since 1989 and has a 14-year-old son.

She said she feels her experience sitting on different boards would help her as a city councillor because of the training and responsibility the appointments have afforded her, as well as her own experience in the business world.

Aa a mother, wife and entrepreneur, I feel grateful to be living and working in Kelowna," said Gray. "I believe we need to look ahead to get Kelowna ready for the next 20 years. In my commitment to civic leadership, I plan to bring a positive vision and be proactive."

On Wednesday, Gray became the first non-incumbent candidate to announce she is running for one of the eight councillor seats that will be up for grabs in this this November's civic election.

While her announcement is considered early, she said she felt it was time to make it because she has been planning her candidacy for the last nine months and the campaign was ready to start.

She said she does not fear being forgotten when the usual crush of council candidate announcement starts to roll at the end of the summer because she plans to get out and talk with city residents over the next few months to find out what's on their mind.

As for her message to voters, her announcement speech was business-heavy, with the candidate saying one of her top three focuses will be supporting small, local businesses and keeping commercial taxes down as part of a broader growing community initiative.

Following the speech, she said the city's growth will likely help pay for the cost of servicing the bigger population and public-private partnership have been beneficial in the past and should be used more.

The city also needs to continue developing its strong relationships with both UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College.

But it also needs to "think out of the box" when it comes to transportation planning, including from a valley-wide perspective, and it needs to take a closer look at its future fire service needs.

For her protecting quality of life focus, she said the city needs to protect the environment, keep residential taxes down and promote healthy life styles.

Gray has already launched a website for her campaign

With incumbent Coun. Colin Basran having already announced he will run for mayor, Coun. Robert Hobson saying he likely will not seek re-election after 22 years on council and several other incumbents mulling not running again, this year there are likely to be several vacancies for voters to fill, as well as passing judgement on those incumbents who do seek re-election.

In 2011, 40 people ran for the eight councillor seats, with five incumbents and then-mayor Sharon Shepherd, all losing their seats. Only Hobson and Councillors Andre Blanleil and Luke Stack were returned from the previous council.

 

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