October 22, 2014 - 5:46 PM
KELOWNA – Five of the eight candidates for mayor were at Manteo Resort Wednesday morning for the first public forum of the municipal election.
Mayoral hopefuls Colin Basran, Sharon Shepherd, Kelly Row, Glendon Smedley and Chuck Hardy were each given two minutes to answer eight questions put forward by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
During the 90-minute forum, topics ranged from the importance of arts in the community to budget issues, taxes, infrastructure and business.
Former two-term mayor Sharon Shepherd and current first-term councillor Colin Basran are considered the front-runners and used their opening statements to address what they see as their biggest obstacles to election.
Basran, known for his pro-business stance, fired the first salvo.
“I’m proud to have been part of team that got Kelowna moving again,” he said, implying Shepherd’s reign was marked with stagnation. “There’s a lot of work yet to be done.”
He also brought up his own relatively young political career, something critics say is his most glaring weakness.
“My three years on council taught me a great deal,” he said. “I’m not pretending I have all the answers to your questions, or all the solutions to the issues our city faces, but I’m prepared to work as hard as I can… so when I don’t have the answers I will get the information I need… to help council make a decision that is best for all residents. We need fresh, energetic, innovative leadership to keep Kelowna moving in the right direction.”
Shepherd, who also served three terms as councillor, used her opening address to answer critics who say she is more concerned with social issues than with local business and the economy.
“I am a businesswoman,” she said. “Business is important to my family. Like all of you, we are deeply affected by business decisions made by the city. I have the experience to lead the City of Kelowna to being the best, most beautiful mid-size city in North America."
Kelly Row is a 46-year-old Gospel Mission employee who said in a press release his decision to run for mayor is based on a call from God.
“I believe God calls people to love him first and people second,” he said. “I’m interested mostly in neighbourhood-building, community building, (and) building of the people of Kelowna.
Glendon Smedley, a professional carpenter with 15 years’ experience, says he already sees Kelowna as a cultural capital but would like to see it become a “transportation capital" as well.
“In addition to maintaining our heritage and heritage buildings we should look forward into the future,” he said. “We are all affected by traffic. Increased travel of people around our city will attract more tourists, securing Kelowna’s economic sustainability in Canada and be known as the transportation capital of Canada.”
Chuck Hardy, a long-time Kelowna resident and member of the Free Masons, described the current system as “top heavy”.
“I would like to contribute to healthy growth of Kelowna through business development and therefore would like to see fewer bosses and more workers,” he said.
Three other candidates for mayor are also running in November, however Mark Thompson, Sam Condy and James Murphy did not sign up to participate in the forum.
The 2014 municipal election will take place November 15. For a complete list of candidates and their platforms, visit the City of Kelowna’s election web page.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014