Youth or experience? Voters have lots of choice in Penticton municipal election | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Youth or experience? Voters have lots of choice in Penticton municipal election

All but one of the 24 Penticton council candidates took part in a forum attended by around 400 people at the Penticton Lakeside Resort Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.
September 28, 2018 - 1:39 PM

PENTICTON - One choice Penticton residents will have in the upcoming Oct. 20 municipal election is whether they would like to elect a more youthful council or stick with old, familiar and predictable personalities from the past.

That was apparent at last night’s all candidate meeting, Sept. 27, in which around 400 Penticton residents were introduced to Penticton’s most youthful candidate, 20-year-old Christopher Evasin.

Evasin, a political neophyte, showed he was in the 24-candidate race to compete as he answered questions put to him in a thoughtful and articulate manner.

All but one of the 24 candidates running for a spot on Penticton city council were present for the forum, each given one minute to introduce themselves. Two questions were then asked of each candidate by a panel of local media, interspersed with several “snapper questions” to which candidates answered yes or no with a show of hands.

“Everybody has to start somewhere. Without experience, how is anybody supposed to gain experience?” Evasin replied to a question about his thoughts on a more youthful council. “You wouldn’t expect a plumber or a teacher to wait 30 or 40 years to get into the trade they love, why would you expect anyone to wait that long to get the career they want in politics?”

He said he would seek assistance from other councillors, city staff and seek information on his own to educate himself.

Evasin sees housing as Penticton’s biggest issue, saying the market isn’t affordable for young adults like himself. He also talked about the lack of activities for young people.

“The Mule has shut down, what are we going to do after 2 a.m. after we finish at the Parrot? Seriously, there will be thousands of young adults drunk at midnight, what are they going to do?” he said to laughter and applause from the audience.

Evasin said the city’s problems from drug use should be seen as a health issue, calling addicts “people like us” who need the city to take leadership. He offered a restorative justice program as a possible solution to some of the city’s issues with petty crime.

Evasin’s outlook was in stark contrast to former mayor Jake Kimberley, 78, who went on the defensive after being questioned on his past record. Kimberley served on council from 1987 to 1990 in addition to two terms as mayor from 1990 to 1996, and again from 2005 to 2008.

In particular, Kimberley took umbrage to questions about cost overruns during his tenure as mayor while the South Okanagan Events Centre was being built.

“Costs can go up, you never worked in construction. I'm telling you if you worked in construction, you’d know costs can escalate overnight,” he said, but when pressed about budgeting for cost increases, he appeared to get annoyed.

"Of course you can’t budget for that. How can you budget for $1 million, $2 million worth of steel when you don’t know the price can escalate from because of the import duties and everything else on it, overnight? That’s a ridiculous question, I'm sorry, “ he said.

When asked why he was returning to the political arena, he said, "Did you read my letters to the editor?" but added he was “passionate about this city and didn’t like the decisions being made in the last four years.”

Incumbent councillors Judy Sentes, Max Picton and Campbell Watt held their own defending their past records, although Picton drew a blank when asked to explain what shared services had taken place between the city and other local municipalities.

Social issues were at the forefront of much of the discussion, but some time was also devoted to talk about a performing arts centre, with candidates John Archer, Glenn Clark and Daryl Clark expressing their support.

Candidate Kevin Proteau, head of the Penticton Locals Supporting Locals movement, was forced to explain why a charitable calendar published on behalf of the group wasn’t produced in Penticton. Proteau said he tried to print locally, but the “sunshine tax” was too high. He said he eventually “got a great deal” on the publication through a contact in California.

Both Christopher Millin and Doug Maxwell expressed their dissatisfaction with local media for reporting wildfires and flooding in the region over the past two years.

Millin said media had been “very unkind” to the tourism industry suggesting the city invest in it's own media. "We need to promote this town is not underwater and not on fire," he said.

Last night’s meeting, at more than 2.5 hours, was the longest of three candidates meetings hosted by the Penticton Herald at Penticton Lakeside Resort this week. Earlier versions included an all candidate meeting for school trustees on Tuesday, and a mayoral all candidate meeting on Wednesday.

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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