KELOWNA – The controversial lobby group of influential business leaders and professionals known as FourChange, which may have played a key role in getting Kelowna mayor Walter Gray and several councillors elected three years ago, are back again for the 2014 civic election with a new name.
Calling themselves ForKelowna, the group have set up a website encouraging voters to re-elect all four incumbent councillors. That list includes Maxine DeHart, Mohini Singh, Luke Stack and Gail Given for council. The group also supports councillor Colin Basran for mayor.
As well, ForKelowna has returned to help citizens navigate through the record number of candidates on the ballot, committee member Cal McCarthy says.
“How do you pick a candidate from a list of 31 on voting day other than who has the biggest sign or who had a controversial sound bite that made the news?” he says.
McCarthy says his group will play a human resources role by vetting the candidates for voters. In a process almost like hiring an employee, the committee sent a questionnaire to all the candidates. Their answers will be posted to the group’s website.
“We are looking for intelligence and experience in general. A background of unique skills is a big factor but we are also looking for their ability to work as a team,” he says. “We don’t want to go back to a council who push pet projects and a bog down staff by not being able to make decisions.”
McCarthy says they won’t be going through the same process for the mayoral candidates.
“That race is well defined. There are two leading candidates and that battle will play itself out,” he says.
In 2011, FourChange targeted four incumbent councillors they felt needed to be replaced: Charlie Hodge, Angela Reid-Nagy, Michele Rule and Kevin Craig. None were re-elected.
According to city campaign financing disclosure statements, the group spent over $30,000 to promote their chosen candidates.
Some of the candidates from the 2011 vote don’t have nice things to say about ForKelowna.
“Really? We are going to have this nonsense again? No group should be telling you who to vote for — do your own research,” former councillor Michele Rule posted to her Facebook page.
Charlie Hodge, who was also targeted by FourChange in 2011 and is running for council this time around says on his Facebook page, “The irony is I am not anti-business and my track record shows it. It was just another lie they spread.”
McCarthy doesn’t think his group painted anyone as anti-business during the last election campaign.
“I think our vetting process for the best candidates is absolutely legitimate,” he says. “We stand behind that process. It was transparent.”
Along with McCarthy, president of SW Audio+Visual, there are five others on the ForKelowna committee: Pushor Mittchel partner Brad Cronquist , Voyager RV Centre president Rodney Friesen, Flightcraft CEO Barry Lapointe, Jorin Wolf Interior Design president Jorin Wolf and senior underwriter at Interior Equities Corp. Darryl Doerkson.
The owner of the news website Castanet was one of the leading forces behind the group in 2011, but Nick Frost isn’t involved this time around, according to McCarthy.
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