Newsmaker of 2014: Kelowna elects Colin Basran as mayor

Basran turned a few Kelowna stereotypes on their heads when he was elected mayor.

Colin Basran won his mayoral bid for Kelowna city council in November.

Colin Basran wasn’t exactly new to the political sphere when he ran for the mayor’s seat in 2014, but he was nonetheless championed by his supporters as a fresh start for this city.

Kelowna’s long lamented reputation as the playground for the rich, white and elderly was repeatedly reflected in its council and Basran, who fit none of those stereotypes, was said to be the person to bring much needed vibrancy to the mayor’s office.

Demonstrating the drive and energy needed to back up that assertion, Basran campaigned tirelessly in the weeks leading to the election.

He was available for every interview, showed up at countless events and made his presence known in every conceivable way.

“If I had to guess based on belt loops, I’d say I lost at least 20 pounds during the campaign,” he said. “You are running on adrenaline and nervous energy…For me, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done public speaking events, I still get nervous. And with so many speaking engagements, I didn’t eat. I was busy, skipping lunch and meals and just being busy.

The effort wasn’t lost on the electorate. Basran won the mayor’s seat with 57 per cent of the vote.

“I’ve had a lot of young people come up to me since the election, saying they voted for the first time because they finally had someone they could relate to, who was running,” he said.

“On the campaign I always said—and I believe—that I bring about a new era in decision making. I will be open to new ideas and I have a unique perspective.”

Born in 1977, Basran is part of what some have referred to as the “sandwich generation.”

He’s a parent of two children under the age of four and he has two living parents. That, he said, gives him insight into a wider swath of this city’s demographics.

“I have parents whom I want to make good decisions for and I have children whom I want to make good decisions for,” he said.

And, he explained, he won’t be the one coming up with all the answers.

His place in the next four years is to work with council to be a receptacle to innovative and workable concepts.

“It’s not council’s job to come up with the ideas. It’s our job to allow the people who have the good ideas to bring those ideas forward and for us to implement them together,” he said, noting that a big part of that is allowing city staff the freedom to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

He likes the direction things are going in, anyway.

“I wasn’t running on a campaign for change,” Basran said. “Let’s keep it moving in the current direction, where we’re open for opportunity.

“They can be business, social and artistic opportunities…I want us to have a well balanced community, economically and socially.”

When asked for an example of how he sees that vision coming to life, he pointed to the Rutland Centennial Park revitalization, which is on the books for 2015.

“It will improve things in a number of ways,” he said. “I think part of the plan there is to get some youth soccer fields. And with that I see parents dropping off their kids to play soccer then going to grab groceries or coffee. A revitalized park stimulates the economy around the park and improves the health opportunities for families.”

That kind of project, he explained, helps Kelowna achieve its potential—something he’s been thinking about his whole life and the reason why he’s so thankful to have been given the mandate by the electorate to work toward.

“Being mayor is an absolute dream come true,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier. Being somebody who was born and raised in Kelowna, then getting to become the mayor…I don’t know how to put how that makes me feel into words.”

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