For six of the seven years since the District of West Kelowna incorporated to form its own municipality, Doug Findlater has been at the helm as the mayor of West Kelowna.
This year the long-time West Kelowna resident says he’s ready to keep pushing the municipality forward, should voters decide to elect him for a third term in office over his challengers, businesswoman Mary Mandorino and political newcomer Stephen Johnson.
“We have done yeoman’s work to get to where we are,” said Findlater. “We have done the master planning work, have the infrastructure and community plans in place. We’re really just starting to roll and I want to be to be a part of it. My campaign has gone very well. I’ve been out to see a lot of people and what they are saying is ‘we like what you are doing, keep going.'”
Over the past 30 days, Findlater, Mandorino and Johnson have been out campaigning for votes in West Kelowna on varying platforms in the race for mayor. Findlater wants to keep building on the infrastructure successes of the past six years, while keeping the rural nature of West Kelowna intact. Mandorino questions whether a proposed civic centre is necessary when the public doesn’t rank it as a top priority. Johnson says sustainable economic growth and opportunities for youth are key to his platform, which also includes an emphasis on increasing the voter turnout come election day.
“Obviously, I want to win, but one of the goals of my campaign all along is to increase voter turnout,” said Johnson. “Last election it was 26 per cent and we’re hoping to hit 40 per cent this year. We’re trying to get that younger demographic, from 18 right up to 40 to re-engage in the election process. I think we’ve run a really strong campaign.”
For Mandorino, who twice ran unsuccessfully for a seat on council, jumping into the mayor’s race has brought to her attention many issues facing West Kelowna as it moves forward.
“I’ve spoken with a lot of people and I’ve covered a lot of territory,” she said. “For me this campaign has been very satisfying. The west side is made up of a number of neighborhoods that are very unique and diverse and we need to recognize and promote that diversity and bring it into a unified community. I have been involved in community events and leadership and I feel quite confident I can lead this municipality to meet the needs of the citizens and what they consider a priority, not what I think is a priority.”
After West Kelowna became incorporated in 2007, Findlater joined the area’s first council before running for mayor and defeating Rosalind Neis in 2008, and has been in the mayor’s chair for six years. Mandorino is an outspoken community activist who has lobbied against plans for a civic centre while the 29-year old Johnson is a general contractor and Mount Boucherie High School graduate who is on the board of Westside Minor Baseball as well as his local church.