Penticton’s former mayor thinks he lost because public believes new council can 'do better job' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Penticton’s former mayor thinks he lost because public believes new council can 'do better job'

Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki poses for this undated photo submitted by the City.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / City of Penticton

Penticton’s John Vassilaki who spent one term as mayor and years as a councillor wasn’t too rattled after losing his seat in last night’s municipal election.

“We live in a democratic country and we have a democratic process happening and the people made their choice, that’s how it is,” Vassilaki said. Oct. 15 was general election day for municipalities across B.C.

He doesn't know why he lost, he said. “There’s a lot of issues in the whole of British Columbia and Canada as far as that goes and I think the public figured if it put different people in there they can do a better job or change what’s happening in the province.”

He doesn’t believe his stance on homeless or housing these last four years made a difference in the polls.

Most notably, a homeless shelter became a point of contention between the province and the city beginning in 2021. The province overruled the city's decision to close the Victory Shelter after winter and then the city sued the province. The lawsuit was eventually dropped after a plan was announced to build the new rooms at Compass House.

“We went a little further because we didn’t want our rights to be taken away, we stood up to injustice if you want to call it that and that’s the stand that I took and I wouldn’t change it for anything. If I had to do it all over again, I would have done the same thing,” Vassilaki said.

READ MORE: Costly legal battle with province over Penticton shelter does nothing to help homeless

He will return to work at his businesses in the city and plans to spend more of his free time with his wife. Previously, he spent 12 years on council and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2014 before he was elected to the position in 2018.

His advice for the new mayor is to look after the best interests of Penticton residents and not for himself.

“It was a very definite vote for change, it was just a vote on the direction of what that change should go in,” said new Mayor Julius Bloomfield.

The one-term councillor narrowly edged out contender Jason Reynen and handily defeated Vassilaki.

“It was almost an even split between myself and Jason Reynen who's fresh out of the gate politically and he’s got his Clean Streets Penticton group. I guess it was split between a more extreme change and a more conservative-type change... and I think I represent change but a more moderate change than Jason is representing,” Bloomfield said.

Reynen runs Clean Streets Penticton, a Facebook page of crime watchers and people who patrol city streets to retrieve stolen items.

“I think the one thing that is for certain is we are going to have to bring about change very quickly because the people expect it, they demand it,” Bloomfield said.

As mayor, he plans to first address the drug issues, crime and affordable housing, he said.

For 10 of the last 16 years, Penticton has had the worst crime rate of the Thompson-Okanagan's largest cities. For five of those 16 years, most recently in 2014, it ranked number two. Only in 2013 did it slip to number four.

READ MORE: Penticton most crime ridden city in Thompson-Okanagan and much of B.C. 

Joining Bloomfield on council are Amelia Boultbee, Isaac Gilbert, Ryan Graham, Helena Konanz, James Miller and Campbell Watt. Only Watt and Miller are returning councillors.

Bloomfield finished with 3,374 votes to 3,155 for Reynen. Vassilaki got 2,052 votes.

 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 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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