There is some truth to the adage, “The apple does not fall far from the tree,” the assumption being that genetics tends to run through a family tree lineage.
For some, the analogy is a compliment, for others it’s a curse.
While I share mixed feelings regarding significant members of my direct spawn stream, most of them I’m pretty proud or humbled by.
Granted my family tree is also filled with a few nut, monkey or puzzle trees and (based on my stature), perhaps some shrubbery. Regardless, I digress.
A few days ago while sorting through yet another box of ‘junk’ in my shed, I discovered a weathered scrapbook.
Further investigation revealed it was my father’s archives from his political career between 1969 and 1974.
Ironically the gem of ads and news clippings has been tucked away in that box, directly under my nose, since I moved it from mom’s house some 20 years ago—two years before I first was elected to municipal office.
Not only is it a delightful historical insight to election battles of the day, it’s also an eye-opener on a personal level.
Clearly there was more osmoses going on than I realized when as a 14-year old I watched my dad first elected to Kelowna city council.
Like most young teens, I was more interested in hockey and girls (and not particularly in that order) than I was what was happening in municipal politics.
As mentioned in past columns, my dad and I were not particularly close when I was young and sadly he died before I grew up enough to give him a fair shake.
But clearly I was taking in more lessons and philosophies than I thought. When I read some of his comments, slogans etc. from his time running for two terms on council, and one term for the school district, it is eerily familiar.
So were some of the circumstances he faced.
Dad officially entered the local municipal election fray Nov.14, 1969, walking into a nasty battle which included a slate, couple of returning councilors, and some newbies, which included my dad.
As Dick Parkinson was retiring as mayor, alderman Bert Roth opted to give up his cozy seat and seek the mayor’s sceptre.
Standing in the way was former two-time councilor Dave Chapman (yes of Chapman Van Lines fame), who had lost his bid for a third term in 1967 by just two votes.
Roth was backed by a slate of rookie aldermanic hopefuls known as The Kelowna Citizen’s Association which included Gwen Holland, Bill Kane and Bud Mooney.
Incumbent aldermen Ernie Winter and R.J. Wilkinson filled out the competing roster with dear old dad the only new face on his own.
Dad’s first poster stated the obvious: Vote for Action, vote Syd Hodge for Alderman—Your Independent Candidate.
There are pages and pages of articles on the debates, the key issues such as whether to continue with Regatta (a decade before the two riots) whether to rebuild the Regatta facility (burnt to the ground the year before), pollution of Okanagan Lake, whether or not to build the Parkinson Recreation Centre, and should the city hire a city manager.
One article, however, fully snagged my attention. It was dad’s official candidate statement in the Capital News. Some of it I must repeat here: “Let’s cut out the politics and get down to brass tacks. Everyone is in favour of better city services, facilities for senior citizens and youth; and in favour of recreation! Everyone is against pollution and higher taxes. Everyone is in favour of city planning for the other fellow but complete freedom for himself,” he opened.
Other gems include: “Our city staff for the most part appear to be dedicated proficient men, but I firmly believe their efforts should be co-ordinated by a new executive officer—call him city manager or what you will. The name is not important. Council should spend more time on policies not pot holes, listening to the public they are supposed to represent, and formulating a consistent, stable, policy that the manager will put into effect.
“Advisory committees should be just that—advisory. Council should have the opinion of a committee and city staff, listen to the public, and then make a decision. Council should keep the public fully informed of its doings. Council members are human and when a real problem occurs, or a mistake is made, it is the whole council’s mistake. Why ignore problems or hide mistakes—they don’t go away.
“The only council which never makes mistakes is the council that never makes a decision.
“I feel there are too many large, slow committees too many committees investigating committees, too many high priced outside consultants [sound familiar?] and not enough communication between city council and the citizens.
“If you elect me I will be one voice only, but I intend to be a constructive, sensible voice. Throughout this campaign I have remained completely independent politically and financially, and if elected dedicate myself to being a good alderman for the whole city of Kelowna.
“I will cooperate with the other councillors and with the mayor, whether it be Chapman or Roth, but if I think the mayor and or the majority of council are wrong I will say so in open council.”
Dad finished third in the race joining Roth, Kane, Holland, Mooney, Winter and Wilkinson on city council.
And the rest is history. Thanks Dad. You set a good path.