A local group that had publicly stated it only supports four of the current eight incumbent Kelowna councillors and wants to see both change and what it calls “greater leadership” on council, says it is not opposing Mayor Sharon Shepherd in the upcoming civic election.
But the group is not supporting her, either.
“We have said nothing about the mayoralty race,” said FourChange spokesman Nick Frost. “We are completely neutral on the mayor’s position.”
Two weeks ago, FourChange.org sent out an email saying it supported four council incumbents—Councillors Robert Hobson, Andre Blanleil, Luke Stack and Graeme James—and wanted to see change on council.
But the group has since backed away from that public endorsement of the four incumbents, as another FourChange spokesman, business owner David Langton, told the Capital News on Tuesday their group is currently not supporting anyone.
Langton said FourChange is now simply focusing on finding four new councillor candidates to support.
While he said the group “could live with” the re-election of Hobson, Blanleil, Stack and James, it is no longer publicly supporting them.
“At this moment, we have no official people we are supporting, other than we are looking for four new people,” he said.
In its email two weeks ago, the group did not name the other four incumbent councillors—Charlie Hodge, Angela Reid-Nagy, Kevin Craig and Michele Rule—but subsequently made it clear it wants them replaced. Shepherd’s name was also not included in the list of council members it said at the time it supported.
Upset that it has been reported his group included Shepherd in its bid for change, Frost called it a “really big leap” to assume that because her name was not included as a member of council FourChange supports, coupled with his group’s top desire to see greater leadership on council, that FourChange was gunning for the mayor.
Asked to explain who FourChange wants to see offer greater leadership, Frost said the entire council.
While the mayor is a member of council— she holds one vote just as each of the councillors do—Frost said he feels the public considers the mayor separate from councillors.
FourChange says it plans to support four still unknown candidates for councillor positions in the Nov. 19 civic election. The official nomination period starts next week, on Oct. 4, and will run until 4 p.m. on Oct. 14.
FourChange is a local group being guided by a steering committee of 10 people—only Frost and Langton have publicly identified themselves as members—that says it has now signed up 200 members. It said it does not charge membership fees but asks for donations to “help its cause.”
The group’s first email looking for support noted there was a $100 deposit to run in the civic election in Kelowna. The Capital News incorrectly reported there was a $100 sign-up fee to join FourChange.
Earlier this week, in a news release, FourChange.org said its support of four as yet unnamed new candidates will not constitute a slate, and won’t be about specific issues, saying that will be left up to the incoming council to deal with.
“We just want council to work together and we need strong leadership, especially during a slow economy that affects us all, including those seeking jobs,” said Frost.
With 53 sets of nomination papers for the eight councillor positions up for grabs picked up so far, Frost said his group expects little difficulty in identifying who it will support.
In addition, 11 nomination packages for mayor have been picked up.