Former Penticton mayor talks about life in and out of politics - InfoNews

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Former Penticton mayor talks about life in and out of politics

Former Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit has a retail business as well as a video business he is working on expanding following his unsuccessful bid for a second term as mayor last October.
April 22, 2019 - 6:00 PM

PENTICTON - It’s been seven months since last year’s municipal election saw John Vassilaki upset incumbent Andrew Jakubeit in the Penticton mayor’s race on Oct. 20, 2018.

Jakubeit’s defeat at the polls, placing third to Vassilaki and Jason Cox, brought Jakubeit’s political career in Penticton municipal politics to an abrupt end, at least for the time being.

Jakubeit spent a total of ten years on council, including four years as Mayor of the city in a term that included the controversial Skaha Lake park issue, when council was brought to task for a perceived lack of public consultation regarding a long term private lease on park lands.

Jakubeit spoke to recently about life after politics in Penticton, catching up with him at “The Grooveyard,” the family’s downtown retail business.

“The election (result) was a bit of a surprise. I didn’t have any indication there was this trend to go to a senior council. Certainly, having one member under 60 on the current council is not a reflection of our community. That was disappointing. I didn’t think Jason would split the vote like he did with me,” Jakubeit says of last October’s election result.

Jakubeit says he believes a lot of people thought the economy was doing well, with council having made big strides forward in building a public engagement process and "correcting some things.”

“I think people thought, ‘everything’s going to be fine, it’s not a big deal, and probably didn’t take the time to vote or get involved as they should have,” he says, adding the resulting lack of youth on council is likely frustrating to the younger demographic.

“It is what it is, that’s the nature of politics. I miss the people, whether it was around the council table, staff or people in the community that you got to work with. I don’t miss the drama of politics that takes place at every level,” Jakubeit says.

Jakubeit says the sudden loss of the mayor’s job was a shock economically.

His family has run the "The Grooveyard" for 29 years, and Jakubeit has a video production business called “Groove-V Productions” that he now has time to give his full attention to.

He says going into last year’s election he set some money aside as a cushion.

"There’s no employment insurance, no golden handshake. The money stops, and you’ve got to transition,” he says.

(It's worth noting Jakubeit, at age 48, is one of Penticton's most youthful mayors in recent years.)

“It certainly was a change in income, going from every two weeks having a cheque show up in your account to going back to having to go drum up business to survive,” he says.

Penticton’s Statement of Financial Information documents show Jakubeit took home $64,208 as mayor in 2017. He also took home an additional $14,143 as a board Director at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.

“I do wake up every once in a while wondering what happened,” he says with a smile.

“We’ve always had the store here. I do some accounting and ordering during off hours. This year we did 402 hockey games as broadcast partner for Hockey TV. That kept us quite busy, as well as video of games for hockey school and the (Penticton) Vees, and the world curling tour,” he says, adding he’d just returned from filming a conference and promotional video in Jasper earlier this month.

“I enjoy the work. Before, my schedule was all over the map. It was hard to run my video business because I couldn’t commit to certain dates and times. I couldn’t grow the business before, but now that’s a priority,” Jakubeit says.

Jakubeit says life is less stressful out of politics. He says he’s slowly getting his identity back after four years of being “Mayor Andrew” to everyone.

“I couldn’t walk into a room and just be Andrew. You don’t realize how much of your identity you have to give away or put on hold,” he says.

Of the Skaha Park issue, Jakubeit says he’s aware it’s difficult for a lot of people to forgive and forget.

“A lot of people never had anything to rally around, then Skaha Park gave them an issue,” he says.

Jakubeit says he struggled internally with that fraction of the community not wanting to see the park developed, while council wanted to move forward with it.

“Council looked at it as a segment of the community that is opposed to everything, and if we didn’t stand up to them, they would say no to everything else. The length of time it took to resolve was an issue, too. No one expected it to avalanche (from) the snowball it was,” Jakubeit says.

He says he believes his council will best be remembered for building the city’s new communications policy.

“I think we did a really good job of building that communication framework. That’s a legacy of our administration I’m really proud of,” he says.

As far as a return to politics, Jakubeit is saying never say never.

“I put my name forward on council 10 years ago because five out of seven council members were retired. Having only one person under 60 on present council concerns me, so come next election - I just want to see the community move forward, with the entire community represented,” he says.

However, Jakubeit says he’s not going to interfere with present council’s efforts as a citizen.

“I won’t be one of those politicians who circle back and try to undermine something I was part of in the past,” he says.

“I’ve moved on, I have the store, and now I have the opportunity to grow my video business,” Jakubeit says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 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.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2019

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