Four incumbent Kelowna city councillors are being targeted by a group of local business people who want the quartet replaced in the next election.
FourChange.org, which includes Castanet Media owner Nick Frost and John Langton, owner of Competition Glass, on its 10-person steering committee has circulated what Langton called a “document to our friends” which calls for change on city council because the last six years have seen “delay and dysfunction” at City Hall.
The four councillors the group wants replaced are Charlie Hodge, Angela Reid-Nagy, Michele Rule and Kevin Craig.
The group says it supports Robert Hobson, Andre Blanleil, Luke Stack and Graeme James because they are experienced, effective and share the group’s values.
The document, sent to 110 people, says Four Change will support four new candidates and share their resumes with the public at a later date.
Frost said the group has not identified the four candidates it will support yet and will likely wait until after the Oct. 4 to 14 nomination period to name them.
“I don’t want to say too much because this (public knowledge of the group’s plan) has caught us off guard,” said Frost.
The document does not mention any preference for mayor but does say the group’s top “principle” is for greater leadership on council.
Shepherd is being challenged by former mayor Walter Gray, who has been critical of the current council for not having, in his mind, enough of a business focus.
When contacted Thursday, Langton said nobody with the group was willing to talk and the letter was simply “a document sent out to our friends.”
But Frost was willing to speak, saying none of the four targeted councillors should take it personally. “It’s not about any particular individual,” he said, adding it is about the need for change on council. “An awful lot of people out there agree with us.”
But Hodge, who said he has known Frost for 30 years, said he was surprised to only learn of the group’s plan from the media, adding it was hard not to take it personally. “I’m not surprised this has happened but I am surprised who the people are.”
The feisty city councillor said he phoned Frost to confront him about the document and said Frost seemed surprised to hear from him. Frost told Capital News he was glad Hodge called.
“I know I’m not supposed to take it personally, but how can I not,” said Hodge. “I won my last election (in 2008) by 39 votes—the skin of my teeth. Don’t tell me this won’t affect 39 people.”
Hodge also noted he was only elected to council three years ago and Craig two years ago in a by-election, pointing out how the document says the group is concerned about delays and dysfunction on council for the last six years.
In addition to greater leadership on council, the group also wants more effective decision-making by council, better teamwork throughout the city and for council to focus on what it calls “the big picture, not pet projects.”
Four Change is also seeking donations from recipients of the document “to get the word out.”
Despite this public call for his ouster, Hodge has his own message for Frost, Langton and the rest of the Four Change organization. “Bring it on,” he said.