Spending at city hall has been made an issue in this election campaign. Why do you think the city is or is not spending taxpayers’ dollars efficiently?
I believe the public feel isolated on discussions and deliberations around budget decisions which should be more open and inclusive. It is essential that as significant decisions and policies are made throughout the year that future budget impacts are always included. Spending must be done with transparency, creatively, and cost-effectively. Taxpayers support the importance of maintaining reliable, resourceful and necessary services while not spending frivolously. Regular audits by council are necessary in evaluating budget expenditures and ensuring they reflect the needs of the community. Advocating for the necessary financial support from other levels of government is an important role.
What do you think is the single most important social issue facing the city and how would you address it as Mayor?
Crime and repeat offender issues continue to plaque our city as well as needing affordable and social housing. Ongoing support for the RCMP to use strategies towards a safe community is essential. The 4 pillar approach to homelessness must continue with prevention, treatment, enforcement and harm-reduction. As Mayor, council initially introduced 28 housing strategies and through partnerships built 4 social housing projects. Policy now expands and encourages secondary suites, includes cost incentives for developers to build smaller more affordable units and purpose-built rental. A constant analysis and updating on the strategies for crime, homelessness, affordable and social housing is essential.
The recent Conference Board of Canada grade report for Kelowna had the city receiving a low or failing grade on many issues. Do you feel this report was an accurate reflection of our city? Why or why not?
It is always valuable to review the grading from other jurisdiction and not take offense but determine where the weaknesses are and determine is these areas are a priority. Strategy should then be developed to deal with the areas that are reflective of a failing grade. If the information is incomplete then it is absolutely imperative that accurate data be provided to those making the grading. In some cases the community may have already dealt with some of the graded issues and that would be important to report to the community.
Define what you think the role of the mayor is in providing direction for city council and as the public representative for our city?
The Mayor is the community representative and through leadership develops excellent relationships with other levels of government, business and community representatives and neighbouring municipalities. The Mayor must be inclusive of the goals of the councillors. It is essential that the Mayor ensures fiscal responsibility, and that rules, order and conduct are followed while guaranteeing respect for the general public and staff. Pursuing the needs of our community relentlessly and diligently is imperative, being open to innovation and opportunity, listening to concerns and issues and finally, being available or having a council representative at events where requested.
What personal characteristics do you think make you qualified to be Mayor?
I have the “experience to lead” as a business leader, community supporter and six years as Kelowna Mayor and 9 years as City Councillor. I am fiscally responsive, hard-worker, good listener and inclusive. I am relentless when I pursue our community needs. I have developed relationships with other levels of government, business, development, and community. I know what work needs to be completed, new projects to be identified, policies to be reviewed and the OCP to be updated. I want Kelowna to be leading edge in a vibrant economy, environment protection, in dealing with social issues and in cultural vitality.