Kelowna mayoral candidates, incumbent Colin Basran (left) and challenger Tom Dyas, appeared at the Capital News/Third Space mayoral debate Tuesday. —Image: Carli Berry/Capital News

Kelowna mayoral candidates spar over support

Tom Dyas claims Colin Basran’s former campaign manger from seven years ago ‘abandoned’ him

Less than 24 hours after one of his three challengers issued a news release claiming supporters are abandoning him, incumbent Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran has produced three more testimonials—this time from other Okanagan mayors praising the job he is doing.

Vernon’s Mayor Akbal Mund, Penticton’s Mayor Andrew Jakubeit and Oliver’s Mayor Ron Hovanes all praise Basran for his work in side the city and regionally.

“Over the last four years, Colin’s leadership, honesty and integrity have proven he is the person for the job,” said Mund. “Colin has tackled controversial issues such as homelessness with compassion, attainable housing by working with council, and growth through sound fiscal responsibility.”

Jakubeit praised Basran’s ability to “listen to stakeholders and make recommendations on not only what is best for his community, but what it affordable.”

“Look at Colin’s record and achievements and the status of where Kelowna is today,” wrote Hovanes. “Being the mayor for any size of community is difficult, especially a community the size of Kelowna, and how active and growing it is, you want someone there with experience.”

The testimonials come after challenger Tom Dyas issued a news release moments before Tuesday evening’s mayoral debate, claiming Basran’s former council campaign manager from 2011 “abandoned” him. In light of that, Dyas, a former close friend of Basran’s, questioned why voters should still believe in Basran as a leader.

Dyas said he raised the issue of Kelowna lawyer Garry Benson supporting him and not Basran because Basran said at an earlier all-candidates forum he was not aware of any previous supporters abandoning him.

In 2014, Benson supported former mayor Sharon Shepherd in her unsuccessful bid for a political comeback when she lost to Basran in the mayor’s race.

In the news release issued by the Dyas campaign, Benson is quoted as saying he did not support Basran this time for mayor because he does not believe Basran has the necessary leadership ability to effectively engage the community, adding he feels that ability is critical in order to be a “good” mayor.

He also criticized Basran’s “status quo” style.

Dyas has made leadership a major plank in his campaign platform.

At Wednesday’s mayoral debate, Basran and Dyas sparred over several issues, including who should get credit for gaining provincial support for the recent successful bid by the city to host the 2020 Memorial Cup hockey tournament.

Dyas, who served as chairman of the bid team, claimed he deserves credit adding it showed he can get higher levels of government onboard with local projects. But Basran said the success of the bid depended in large part on a letter he signed as mayor, showing the city’s support for the bid.

Dyas responded saying he prepared the letter and even took it personally to city hall for Basran to sign.

In the his news release about Benson, Dyas accused Basran of offering “more of the same: continued higher taxes, no plans to address the homeless crisis in the short term and more growth without proper roads and infrastructure.

“Clearly he has no vision and makes decisions based on what will make him popular today, not based on how these decisions will affect citizens 10 or 20 years from now,” said Dyas.

Basran has said the city’s Journey Home strategy to address homelessness has both medium and long-term goals, and in the short-term, 88 units of social housing are being built in the city and are expected to be open in the spring. Another 100 units are planned for 2019.

He has said growth is being addressed through a number of city plans that have been put together with wide community input, amendments to bylaws and modernizing city rules. Infrastructure improvement, such as roads and water, are being addressed through other city plans and with millions of dollars of funding from higher levels of government the municipal administration he has lead for the last four years has been instrumental in helping secure.

Meanwhile, former city councillor Gerry Zimmermann issued a statement Thursday afternoon denying he has endorsed Dyas, saying he has not. He said he does not agree with Dyas’s vision for the city.

Former Conservative MP Ron Cannan, who said he considered a run for council but decided against it because of his business concerns, said Wednesday while he supports Dyas he is not his campaign manager, despite local news organizations identifying him as such.

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