November 25, 2014 - 7:30 PM
After serving three terms on Penticton City Council, John Vassilaki figured it was time to step up or step out.
That was Vassilaki’s reasoning behind his recent bid to win the mayor’s position in the November 15 municipal election, when he was defeated by Andrew Jakubeit.
"After 12 years in office, I felt my only options were to run for mayor, or retire,” he said.
Vassilaki attributed the cold election day weather and long line-ups at the polling station as reasons for his loss, feeling a number of seniors might have stayed away.
“A lot of my voters—the seniors—just couldn’t wait. I’m not saying it was only these things,” he said, “but I think if there had been two polling stations, it would have been different."
He said he won't attempt a return to office in the next election four years from now. He has a number of projects on the go, including a building development and hopes to spend more time with his grand-children—a trip to Europe, perhaps.
“I have no sour grapes," he said. “I’m a businessman.... I’m not retiring. Just no more politics.”
Vassilaki feels his single biggest accomplishment as councillor was the building of the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“I was promoting the idea 25 years ago,” he said.
Vassilaki also has some advice for the incoming mayor and council as the new government prepares to take their oaths of office on December 1.
“We’ve got to have politicians with backbone,” he said, “People who lead instead of being led. Council has no power if they allow themselves to be led by staff members without challenging them. Each councillor must do his own research and due diligence."
“Don’t listen to special interest groups - the culture at City Hall has to change, and change immediately, or nothing will happen. I never made political decisions—I always spoke out—I wasn’t afraid of losing votes."
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014