The first challenger to incumbent West Kelowna mayor Doug Findlater has stepped forward.
With Findlater planning seek another term in the November civic election, West Kelowna resident Stephen Johnston says he is also planning a mayoral campaign.
Johnson threw his hat in the ring earlier this week, saying he is running for mayor instead of a councillor in this, his first attempt at public office, because his vision for the community would best be served with him in the mayor’s chair.
But while he describes his vision as “bold,” he is not yet ready to explain what it would entail and how it would be different from that of the current West Kelowna council.
He said those details will have to wait for a couple of weeks until he releases his platform.
In the meantime, Johnson, a 29-year-old journeyman carpenter who runs a construction company with his father, building custom houses in the Central Okanagan, said his main three goals as mayor would to create a “connected” community, improve economic development and provide more opportunities for youth. Johnson declined to elaborate on those goals.
“I love this community, I grew up here, my wife Leah and I are raising our children here, and I know how much potential this area has,” he said.
Johnson, who has lived on the Westside since he was in elementary school as a Mt. Boucherie Secondary graduate, is a member of the board of directors for the West Kelowna Minor Baseball Association, is a director of the U9 baseball division. He has been on the leadership board at Emmanuel Church for the past four years and is married with two young children.
He said through his community involvement and business ventures, he believes the municipality is ready and eager to take big steps forward in solidifying its identity.
“We’re at such a critical stage in West Kelowna’s development,” said Johnson. “The first six years were all about getting the municipality off the ground and setting up the necessary infrastructure, but now it’s time to move forward.”
He describes himself as passionate about community and engaging youth and sees himself as a bridge-builder.
“We all want a better future for our kids and our grandkids,” he said. “And we want West Kelowna to be a place they find a sense of ownership, pride, and their own potential in.”
In short, he said, he wants to see a West Kelowna that sets the standard for quality of life.
“West Kelowna can be a model community for livability, but we need a bold vision.”