A last-minute entry in the Kelowna mayoral race says he wants the city to move from “good” to “great.”
Mark Thompson feels he can achieve that goal based on his past civic government experience, new ideas and a passion for the job.
“I may be the underdog today but I am going to work hard to be the top dog on Election Day,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s experience comes from serving nine years on Saskatoon’s city council, along with serving as the vice-chair of the City of Kelowna’s former advisory planning commission. He also ran for both school board and city council in the last election.
Thompson is currently president of the Okanagan Mission Residents’ Association. He describes himself as and entrepreneur with more than 30 years of business experience. Currently, he is publisher of the resident association’s Okanagan Review, a quarterly print publication.
Thompson says he has a reputation as a great negotiator and a consensus builder.
“Kelowna needs some new major employers. We need to do more than educate our young and simply have them needing to go elsewhere for work,” he said.
“Particular emphasis on creating an environment attractive to our young generation is critical.”
Thompson says for the city to say “we are open for business” just isn’t good enough.
“We need to chase businesses with a red carpet welcome to Kelowna. Kelowna is a paradise that we need to shout about it. For firms that rely on creativity and innovation Kelowna is great,” he said. “We need to aggressively invite hi-technology companies to consider Kelowna.
“The Conference Board of Canada gave us a ‘C’ grade. That isn’t an acceptable performance.
“We can’t just write this off as (the Conference Board of Canada) is one of the most respected organizations in Canada for market research.”
Thompson feels the city must approach the likes of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, Blackberry and other low freight cost firms to tell them why Kelowna would be great for their corporate interests.
“We need to make the case for them to consider investing in our community. We need a marketing plan engaging at least a hundred ambassadors within our private and public sectors to ensure that we cut a wide swath of attraction.
“Arts and entertainment play a major role in community development.”
Thompson added attracting our share of provincial investment results from the art of negotiation.
Regarding taxation, Thompson says the city must be clear that responsible fiscal management is mandatory.
“Locking council into a 0% increase for four years is not responsible. A good part of our annual budget is controlled by provincial contracts that we do not control. Zero Based budgeting should be the standard approach, meaning not much is sacred. An overall objective to not increase taxation more than inflation is a pragmatic approach.”