Strap yourself in and put on a helmet as the Kelowna municipal election scene continues to gain momentum and interesting spinoffs as the nomination deadline for city council wanna-be candidates gets closer.
So far, 30 nomination packages for the position of councillor have been taken out by interested combatants while another 14 have been snagged by those seeking the mayor’s throne. In the school board race, eight packages have been collected.
While authoritative experts such as Kelowna city clerk Stephen Fleming may correct me, it seems to me there certainly seems more interest so far this election in the role of mayor than that of councillor.
That seems logical since current Mayor Walter Gray plans to abdicate his throne for retirement.
Of the 14 people taking out nomination packages for the top seat, nine have agreed to release their names so far: Colin Basran, Samuel Condy, James Murphy, Dale Myrdal, Kelly Row, Andrew Uitvlugt, Chuck Hardy, Ray Osvirk, and Glendon Smedley.
Only Basran can claim any actual city council experience. The biggest conjecture so far is whether former mayor Sharon Shepherd will toss her name back into the political ring.
I can assure readers that she has not made that decision yet. It is not a strategy game on her part as much as a genuine desire to make the right choice for her and her family members.
There is no question the amount of work (and stress) the job carries is a large part of her decision process, especially after a three-year hiatus that has allowed her to realize there is much more to life than becoming media fodder.
Certainly the tacky ugliness of the last election has also left some slight hesitation in jumping back into the competitiveness of an election.
I for one hope she does run. Having served under her for three years on council, I feel Shepherd is a fair, sound, strong leader who truly loves her community and believes that municipal government is a job which should involve all council members and not just an agenda-setting mayor.
Shepherd proved herself a team player and true leader numerous times during our three-year term, often personally taking the heat for decisions made by the entire council while choosing to not use a divide and conquer management style.
I have said this before in this space, but I don’t believe anyone should seek a mayor’s position until they have had at least one term on council to fully comprehend the protocols, procedures and process of running a council.
The race for councillor becomes more and more interesting with each day.
Earlier this week, Gerry Zimmermann announced he would not seek re-election which caught me by surprise.
He had told me as much a few weeks back but I was convinced that the rush of running again and the almost addictive lure of the job would change his mind.
But I admit an additional respect for Zimmermann in his decision, particularly with his comment that, “life is too short,” that he would rather spend the next few years riding his horse or tractor than sitting in all-day meetings and debates.
Well said, Gerry.
His departing comments are worthy of all those considering running for the job.
Zimmermann suggested that the most important question a potential candidate needs to ask themself is why they want to run. Personal agendas, an axe to grind, the money, or the glory should not be the major motivating factors.
Again, well said Gerry.
So now Zimmermann joins Andre Blanleil and Robert Hobson on the sidelines along with Basran, who gives up his seat to run for mayor.
Incumbents Luke Stack, Maxine DeHart, Mohini Singh and Gail Given have indicated they will run for re-election.
Well known local businessman Brad Sieben is among the latest to announce he will run for council.
Sieben is the former chair of Tourism Kelowna’s board of directors, has served on the advisory board of directors for the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, Kelowna Hotel Motel Association, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Convention Centre Task Force, and the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association marketing committee.
Others who have agreed to release their names as council candidates include Derek Somer, Ken Hart, Dayleen Van Ryswyk, Edward Van Ryswyk, Mike McLoughlin, David Boyko, Cal Condy, Patrick Doyle, Rawle James, Margaret-Ann Gfeller, Geoff Turton, Bobby Kennedy, Tracy Gray and Chris Pollock.
Who else is out there to possibly join the mix?
The majority of council members from my term who were turned away by voters last election have indicated they will not run again.
Kevin Craig has moved to Vancouver while Angela Reid-Nagy and Michele Rule have said they will likely not run.
Graeme James has joined a slate with former city councillor Carol Gran and Dale Olson to seek another term.
Other rumoured names tossed out as interested include Todd Sanderson and Ryan Donn.
School board candidates putting their names out there for consideration so far include Richard Knight, Murli Pendharkar, and newcomers Lee-Ann Tiede, Shaun Bos and Peter Pagliocchini.
Interested folks have until Sept. 30 to pick up their nomination packages and until Oct. 10 to file them.
So anticipate a plethora of names to join the mix before this battle-royal officially kicks off, and get your helmets ready.