'I can do the job just as good or better:' Young Vernon mayoral candidate challenges perceptions of age - InfoNews

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'I can do the job just as good or better:' Young Vernon mayoral candidate challenges perceptions of age

25-year-old NDP Kelowna-Lake Country candidate Erik Olesen hopes to shake the status quo in the upcoming provincial election on May 9, 2017.
September 28, 2018 - 5:30 PM

VERNON - This convenience store operator and avid volunteer is running to be the next mayor of Vernon loaded with nearly 14 years of experience in politics, but you wouldn't know it to look at him.

Erik Olesen turned 27 on Sept. 22, the first official start of the municipal campaign. Having run unsuccessfully for a seat on Ottawa city council at age 18 he is no stranger to assumptions about his abilities.

"People will sometimes look at a younger face as not equal or capable and I think that's totally false," he says in a phone interview. "I think that's a big [task] is showing that people can trust a younger candidate to manage and lead a city as effective or better than someone who could be older than myself."

Olesen claims to have started volunteering for local campaigns when Bob Chiarelli was re-elected to be the mayor of Ottawa in 2003. He counts three campaigns he has run for himself, and seven campaigns for others. He told iNFOnews.ca last year, 2017, was his first "full-blown" campagin when he ran for the Kelowna-Lake Country MLA representing the NDP.

In regards to all the years volunteering and working in politics, Olesen nods to the mentors he had along the way.

"I was given opportunities to work with the candidates to be by their side and then there were a couple that took me under their wing 'this is what happens, this is what you do, this is what you don't do.'"

And being a part of the millennial generation, Olesen hopes to see more youth and millennials get involved in politics, and wants to set the example: "I can do the job just as good or better than what's there now."

Olesen says he spends most of his time working and volunteering; he is the chair of the Walk for Alzheimers in Vernon.

Two pillars of his platform focus on the city's homelessness and infrastructure, but Olesen acknowledges that working as a team with city councillors is imperative to make progress.

"I'm one vote at a table of seven," he says, "It's about working as a team with the councillors that are going to get elected."


To contact a reporter for this story, email Shelby Thevenot or call (250) 819-6089 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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