Thurnheer touts her ability to communicate and respect diverse opinions

City of Kelowna: Thurnheer, Laura - councillor candidate says as an HR professional, she's worked extensively in conflict resolution

  • Oct. 31, 2014 2:00 p.m.

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 don’t think the spending has been done inefficiently. The City, as a large institution, runs reasonably well and the staff and management strive for good cost management. I think the real problem is rising costs and clearly this has been significantly affected by expanding labour costs with over 50% of the city budget being wages. I believe that citizens need to consider the price/value relationship of their tax dollars i.e. what value are we getting for our tax dollar? Comparisons with other cities of similar size and demographics would help us to know if we are getting it right and this should be reviewed regularly including the business tax rate.


What do you think is the single most important social issue facing the city and how do you think city council should address it?

In my opinion the single most important social issue is the number of children living in poverty, or below the ‘minimum income line’. Although there are successful local initiatives to deal with this issue like the Food Bank, Success by Six, and other programs run by not-for-profits the only way to reach a satisfactory resolution is to advocate to other levels of government for support. Many of the children are from families from the ‘working poor’; those who work hard but never seem to get ahead. We need to create higher paid employment for these children’s parents so they can support their own families. These children deserve our help as they are our future and, as an educator, I know they cannot learn while they are hungry.


3) 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?

Overall, no, I don’t think it was a fair assessment. There was a time lag between when the data was gathered and when it was published. Changes took place in that time frame such as increased levels of policing which made some of the assessments inaccurate. However, this report, like any rating tool, gives us a ‘temperature check’ and provides us with direction as to what areas need our attention. This is similar to the COF’s ‘Vital Signs’ survey and report that was done recently. I believe that ‘Vital Signs’ is a better reflection of our situation. We also did not rate highly in many areas on ‘Vital Signs’ and need to use all of these tools to understand our issues and opportunities.


4) What in your background will allow you to deal with conflict within our community on issues that come before city council?

Conflict resolution is an area I have worked in extensively in my thirty year working career. As an HR professional, I have often acted in the role of mediator, both in business situations and within the educational community. It is a role that I recognize as being important and one in which I seem to be able to help individuals and organizations move forward to resolution. I don’t necessarily believe all conflict is bad however and sometimes it is part of a healthy review process. I respect others opinions who don’t agree with mine and believe it leads to better discussion and therefore better decisions.


5) What personal characteristics do you think make you qualified to be a city councillor?

I am analytical and able to make informed decisions after thorough review of material from all stakeholders involved. I am highly organized and as a result can deal with a large volume of work while juggling my various roles as Okanagan College Business Administration Chair and Professor, community volunteer, co-business owner, wife and mother.  I have physical stamina, am approachable and respectful of other peoples’ opinions. I am an effective communicator, both written and oral, and through years of both work and volunteer experience understand how to be a fair team player. I believe a City Councillor requires all of these characteristics in order to effectively serve our community.



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