ELECTION 2014: FourChange folks back with a new name

CITY OF KELOWNA: Calling itself ForKelowna and not targeting incumbents as it did three years ago, the group behind FourChange is back.

It has changed its name but it’s goal remains the same — to influence who sits on Kelowna city council for the next four years.

Members of the group behind FourChange, an organization of “concerned citizens” and local business people, who targeted four incumbent city councillors for ouster three years ago to be replaced with four candidates it endorsed, has entered the 2014 campaign calling itself ForKelowna.

The group says it is proud of the difference it made in the last election, when it targeted incumbents Charlie Hodge, Angela Reid, Kevin Craig and Michele Rule —all of whom were running for re-election— for defeat and endorsed first -time candidates Colin Basran, Gail Given, Gerry Zimmerman and former Kelowna councillor Carol Gran to repalce them.

Basran, Given and Zimmermann were all elected and Gran just missed out on the eighth and final councillor seat. This time around, Basran is running for mayor and Given and Gran are seeking councillor positions. Zimmermann is not running for re-election. In 2011, Hodge, Reid, Craig and Rule all failed to retain their seats on council.

“(In 2011) we felt that people were confused by the number of candidates (40 for the eight councillor seats) and by all of the political rhetoric,” said ForKelowna in a news release issued Thursday afternoon.

“We believe we were successful on a number of counts, the two most important ones being increased interest in the election and increased voter turnout. We also feel that our due-diligence with assessing candidates helped to clarify issues and raise awareness about the individuals who we thought could make up a strong council. We are very happy with the work that this council has done, and are proud to have played a small part in the democratic process that saw (three of the four endorsed candidates) elected.”

Three years ago, FourChange was publicly fronted by Castanet owner Nick Frost and local businessman Jim Carta, with Frost going to great lengths to stress the group was not concerning itself with the mayor’s race between then incumbent Sharon Shepherd and former mayor Walter Gray.

This time, ForKelowna makes no secret of the fact it is supporting  Basran inhis bid to defeat Shepherd to succeed Gray.

ForKelowna lists its founder and president as Cal McCarthy of SW Audio+Visual and Showtime Events and Brad Cronquist, a partner in the Pushor Mitchell legal firm, Rodney Friesen, president of Voyager RV Centre, Barry Lapointe, president and CEO of Kelowna Flightcraft , Jorin Wolf, president of Jorin Wolf Interior Design and Darryl Doerkson, senior underwriter at Interior Equities Corp as members of its steering committee.

For the 2014 election, the group says it has two key mandates.

First, it says, in the last three years the group has seen a dramatic improvement in confidence by business in Kelowna and in the operations at city hall. For that reason,  it says, it is  endorsing the “continuity of the existing  council” by supporting the re-election bids of all five incumbents, Basran running for mayor and Given, Maxine DeHart, Luke Stack and Mohini Singh running for for councillor.

Bu it says that even if all five are re-elected, there will be four new individuals elected Nov. 14 and that will will bring change

“We believe all five incumbents are needed in order to provide continuity and a strong base to the incoming council,” said the group in its release.

“Secondly, with 31 candidates running for councillor positions, we believe we can once again play a valuable role by going through a process of due diligence to vet the long list of candidates and respectfully make suggestions for four new councillors.”

ForKelonwa says it has already started to survey candidates, and, when completed surveys are received, it will post them on its website to help voters understand candidates positions.

“Stay tuned for more information and for our recommendations for who best, in our respectful opinion, to help us to realize a strong and effective council,” writes ForKelowna.

The group say it believes in great leadership for Kelowna, effective decision-making, teamwork throughout the city and a focus on keeping Kelowna moving forward.