KAMLOOPS - At 24 years old Mike McKenzie may not be long on life experience, but he believes his past work helping to build indigenous communities gives him the knowledge he needs to be mayor of Kamloops.
After spending time as a firefighter in his teens, McKenzie has been working with various First Nations and youth groups as a consultant. He feels his biggest asset to the role of mayor would be his ability to bring all demographics together.
"I need to bring Kamloops together for our children, our families and our youth," he says. "With everything that's going on in Kamloops we are not setting a good example at the young level. It's about, for me, setting a good example as a leader."
Despite being so young, McKenzie has more political experience than most of his fellow mayoral candidates as he spent three years on the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council before taking a leave last year to focus on his run for mayor. When asked what he thinks of people having an issue with somebody so young being mayor, he feels he has been preparing for this his whole life.
"When I was 12 years old I was a member of the 204 Black Maria Air Cadet Squadron," he says. "By the time I was 16, I was helping run the squadron. When I was 15 I started training to be a firefighter and at 17 I was the youngest fire chief in Canada."
McKenzie also says at 18 he was the youth representative for Canada on several different issues and policy departments through non-profit organizations.
"I do feel like I have the experience and I'm also young enough to learn what needs to be done," he says. "There's innovation and advancement needed in the city so I'm ready for that."
Though the focus of his campaign is bringing people together, he has also been paying close attention to the Ajax mine proposal and he does not like how council has handled the issue. That being said, he understands that if elected he is still subject to the view of the current council.
"Council has made a decision so the incoming mayor has direction to follow," he says. "The other thing to mention is there are people in the city who think there are jobs and a lot of things at stake right now. Those people and the people who make decisions need to come together and figure something out."
Mckenzie is one of six candidates vying for the mayor's chair in the Sept. 30 byelection. The other candidates are Ken Christian, Glenn Hilke, Stu Holland, Todd McLeod,and Bill McQuarrie. There are 22 candidates hoping to pick up one of two open council seats.
For more on the 2017 byelection, go here.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Mike McDonald or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.