Two Penticton mayoral candidates have a taste for politics | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Two Penticton mayoral candidates have a taste for politics

Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of Penticton
September 24, 2018 - 3:29 PM

PENTICTON - Only two of Penticton’s six mayoral candidates already have political experience heading into the municipal election next month.

Andrew Jakubeit has spent 10 years on city council, the last four as mayor, and eight years on the regional district board, while John Vassilaki served four terms on council from 2002 to 2014.

As the incumbent, Jakubeit, 47, is running on his record on council. He says the present members of council have a good rapport with city staff, the province and local Member of Parliament Richard Cannings.

“The people you have to interact with, we’re comfortable with. We work with the Penticton Indian Band, Okanagan College, the airport, I believe I bring balanced and experienced leadership,” he says.

Jakubeit says the city’s top priorities are public safety, property crime, mental health and addictions, and affordable housing.

Updating the city's Official Community Plan is also an important issue for Jakubeit. He says work on the community plan is a constant battle to create design guidelines that don’t include huge discrepancies in the neighbourhood when development occurs.

“How do we plan for the future? Mapping that out is still a challenge," he says.

Jakubeit believes the city’s present council has made big strides in the way it brings things before the public and involves the community in the process, something that wasn’t always the case.

“The waterslides were an example of poor process. Residents can’t accuse the city of not talking to the public any more, we talk about everything,” he says.

And he says public opinion is no longer controlled by special interests.

“A broad cross-section of the community is participating. It’s no longer the perception of an old boys' club,” he says. “That wasn’t always the case before, it was the squeaky wheel that got the grease. And that was usually a certain demographic that was resistant to change, spending money or anything. We as a council worked hard to ensure we did things that were representative of the whole community. It’s something we’re proud of."

Jakubeit and his wife LeAnne have co-owned the record store The Grooveyard for almost three decades. They have lived in the city for 27 years and have two children and a grandson. He also operates a video production company, now in its ninth year.

He has been active in the community, especially hockey as a referee and a member of the B.C. Hockey board of directors.

“I used to referee a lot of high level hockey games, maybe that was good experience for getting into politics,” he laughs. Jakubeit also chaired of the Okanagan Film Commission, and was an organizer with the Canucks Young Stars Classic and with the Reel Peach Fest Film Festival.

As past president of the Downtown Penticton Association he says he lobbied for one-hour free parking and championed the Community Market.

“It turned out to be a good way to bring people downtown. I think it’s the best market in the province.”

John Vassilaki, who is running for Penticton Mayor, has 12 years of council experience.
John Vassilaki, who is running for Penticton Mayor, has 12 years of council experience.

John Vassilaki, 72, has been a resident of Penticton for 63 years. He considers “the business end of his life” to be the single biggest qualification for the mayor's job.

Vassilaki says he was a latecomer to politics, first getting involved when he was in his 50s. 

“I was honoured to serve the community with four terms as councillor over 12 years,” Vassilaki says.

He says he was an ethical councillor who listened to people’s needs and who continues to believe in the people of Penticton.

Vassilaki says he is proud of his role building long-lasting infrastructure in the city.

“Investment and the building end, and all the work I’ve done to develop the downtown core. One good thing about me is I don’t build and sell. I don’t get rid of what I build or purchase. What we build, we build to keep, and we do nothing but build top quality structures that don’t have to be torn down 40 or 50 years later,” he says.

Vassilaki believes the city’s biggest challenges lie in public safety, city assets and prosperity for all.

“By prosperity, I mean bringing in good, high-paying jobs so people can raise families comfortably and affordably,” he says, adding he has been building affordable housing in the city for 45 years.

“What’s happening downtown, the break-ins, the drugs, people on the streets, we have to reassess our policing and how policing is taking place in Penticton,” he says.

Vassilaki says action must be taken to prevent those at risk of homelessness from ending up on the street.

“If we don’t take action, nothing will ever happen. We have to get a collaborative partnership together between three levels of government,” he says.

Vassilaki also wants to encourage the creation of more industrial land, in addition to furthering negotiations with the Penticton Indian Band to develop industrial land on the reserve.

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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