One step back, one step forward is how one might sum up the results or the Kelowna elections for mayor and city council on Saturday.
Reaching into the past was reflected in Kelowna voters, while by a very close margin, choosing to bring back Walter Gray as mayor.
After he had served three terms as mayor before losing to Sharon Shepherd in the 2005 election, Gray seemingly dropping out of political life, until the perceived inactions of the last council and no apparent credible candidate able to challenge that record brought him back into the local political game at age 71.
His campaign was tightly controlled by his campaign managers, as Gray stuck to message, that under his leadership Kelowna would be open for business, while not getting dragged down on specifics. Gray had a few gaffes during the debates, but his campaign themes resonated with voters, leaving Shepherd on the defensive throughout the campaign. But as the votes were being counted, it became apparent that whoever would preside over a divided city.
That division is less apparent on the new council, as five incumbents were voted out, something unheard of before in Kelowna’s civic election history.
While the last group sitting around the council table were often called a do-nothing council during the election campaign, the reality is the new council will be putting into action many of the policies the outgoing council established— downtown development, sustainable growth outlined in the Official Community Plan, revitalizing Bernard Avenue, establishing a growth plan for Glenmore and a development plan the Central Green project.
The more things change, sometimes they stay the same.