It’s been said that there is nothing as constant as change. And Kelowna, over the last 20 years, has been a testament to that.
A growing population and the services it requires as well as the ramifications of exploding development—at least up until the last few years—and a movement away from a reliance on agriculture and tourism as the sole economic staples here have changed this city. And so too have the expectations from both inside and outside Kelowna when it comes to issues that used to be handled by higher levels of government so city hall could concentrate on providing services, building roads, sidewalks and making sure the toilets flush.
So when the word “change” gets bandied around during an election campaign, it’s not a new concept.
When was the last time you heard about any election that did not include candidates calling for change? By their very nature, elections are about change—being for it or against it—if not incumbents would simply be returned to office by acclamation.
But stating the obvious has not stopped the current civic election campaign from focusing on yet another call for change from those trying to unseat the nine council incumbents who are trying to retain their seats.
One group, which calls itself FourChange.org, made an early splash by announcing last month it wants four of the eight incumbent councillors replaced when voters go to the polls Nov. 19. At the time, the group, led by local business types, did not have four specific candidates to present but said it would identify them before election day.
The group finally announced its chosen quartet earlier this week, four candidates it expects to show the leadership FourChange feels is lacking on council these days. And by lacking, it appears to mean not being as pro-business and pro-development as FourChange would like to see council be.
Other groups have, and are also expected, to endorse candidates as well—that’s the nature of elections.
But change is not just about replacing faces at a table. Change is about doing things differently.
And therein lies the question. Do Kelowna residents want to the city run differently?
With 40 candidates running for the eight councillor positions available and five people running for mayor, voters will have a myriad of choices when it comes time to vote.
There will be well-known names on the ballot and not-so-well-known ones. There will be candidates with lots of experience and others with little. There will be younger, middle-aged and older people vying for votes. And there will be candidates whose views mirror yours and those whose views do not.
The key, as always, is the voters.
If you want change, make it happen.
But if you don’t vote—like more than 80 per cent of city residents in 2008—don’t complain.
If you can’t be bothered to vote for the change you want, why should anyone listen when you don’t get it.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Kelowna Capital News.