KELOWNA – Sharon Shepherd couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer. The former mayor of Kelowna has officially announced she is running for the city’s top job.
The candidate released her campaign platform in front of the children’s waterpark in City Park at a noonhour media conference on Thursday.
Shepherd opened her speech in front of a crowd of supporters, sarcastically saying, “this is probably the best kept secret in the last 18 hours.” She was referring to her effort to keep her decision to run for mayor a secret leading up to her schedule conference.
She says there are long-term issues to be addressed over the next four years and she has the experience and knowledge, along with the provincial and federal relationships.
“I don’t have to start from scratch. I know all of the players at the table.”
When it comes to property taxes, Shepherd advocates an open, year-long dialogue. She wants a process, which lasts all year, not just for a couple days, once a year at budget time, which is, “simply not good enough.”
“We need to improve communication, reduce red tape and remain responsible and transparent in our all our fiscal responsibilities.”
Shepherd is clear about her support for the business community, pointing out the focus must expand to include existing businesses, not just attracting new business.
She served two terms as Kelowna mayor beating the incumbent Walter Gray in 2006. She lost to Gray in 2011. Gray has said he is retiring from politics.
“I am relentless in pursuing the needs of our community. I have the experience and the courage to lead Kelowna to continue grow intelligently, to be inclusive, to be accessible, and to strive for the highest quality of life for everyone.”
Shepherd laid out her campaign platform, which includes the redevelopment of City Park with a return to the aquatic heritage including a focus on possible swimming and diving facilities at the lake downtown.
She says she would like to build on the city’s already vibrant arts and culture community including an expansion of the Kelowna Community Theatre.
Shepherd went on to talk about an enhanced transit play, more cycle paths and threw her support behind the rail to trail initiative which would see municipalities in the Central and North Okanagan buy the railroad between Kelowna and Vernon.
Shepherd joins one-term councillor Colin Basran in the race for the mayor’s chair, along with candidates Kelly Row, San Condy and Chuck Hardy.
When asked for her opinion on Basran, Shepherd said she has never met him, but when it comes to municipal government experience, “All I can say from my experience I was three terms as a councillor before I ran for mayor and I was still shocked about how much it involved.”
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