West Kelowna’s first mayor wants her old job back.
Rosalind Neis, who opted to run as a councillor in the last municipal election and topped the polls, has announced she will challenge incumbent Doug Findlater for the mayor’s job in November. Findlater has already said he will seek a second term.
“Doug has done a great job but we have different styles,” said Neis, who has often found herself lacking the support of her council colleagues when trying to propose motions at council meetings.
Despite that, Findlater has said in the past he feels the rest of council works well with Neis, who came out of nowhere to win the first West Kelowna mayoral race in 2007. She served a special one-year term until West Kelowna joined the regular, three-year municipal election cycle the following year. In 2008 she opted to seek a council seat instead of re-election as mayor saying she wanted to devote more time to her family and her job.
At the time of the first election, Neis ran on a “disincorporation” platform, but backed away from that position after she was elected.
She said despite her personal opinion, residents of West Kelowna—or Westside as it was known then—voted for incorporation and voted for her to be mayor of the new municipality. She has not publicly advocated for West Kelowna to join Kelowna since.
Findlater won a council seat in that first election, and before that served as chairman of the committee that looked at governance options for the Westside. He was elected, mayor in 2008.
Neis said she still considers West Kelowna to be a bedroom community of Kelowna, one that needs to look at providing services ahead of facilities for its residents.
An operating room nurse at Kelowna General Hospital, Neis said she feels B.C. Premier Christy Clark has the right approach with her Families First agenda, adding that is something West Kelowna should emulate.
“We want a community that is safe, that we can afford to live in and that, hopefully, our children can afford to buy a house in and stay here,” said Neis.
If elected, Neis said she plans to become a “casual,” at KGH, meaning she could be called in when the hospital needs additional staff but it would be up to her to accept shifts.
That way, she could devote the tremendous amount of time required to be mayor. “I always intended to go back to politics full-time,” she said, adding that is now possible as two of her children graduated from high school last year.
As for her vision for the municipality, Neis said she believes Canadians are “not out of the woods yet” when it comes to the economy and expects five to six more years of what she calls really tough financial times.
“In the meantime, we (as a municipality) have to get back to basics,” she said.