IF YOU WANT to be mayor of Kamloops, you’d better already be a politician. Or that’s what one would think looking at the past.
In 1986, John Dormer, a local businessperson with no previous political experience, was elected for one term. From 1989 until the present, no person was elected as mayor without previous elected experience.
Other than Dormer, all Kamloops mayors from 1986 to the present have had previous elected experience on or off council. Phil Gaglardi, Kenna Cartwright, Cliff Branchflower, Mel Rothenburger, Terry Lake, Peter Milobar and Ken Christian had all been elected in previous roles either provincially or locally.
Even Al McNair, a past president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and business person of the year in 2003, could not beat out one-term councillor Terry Lake for the position of mayor in 2006.
It would seem that those with political experience have the upper hand when running for the office of mayor in Kamloops. Well, at least most of the time.
Last week, when Peter Milobar tweeted suggesting Norm Daley might run for the mayor’s job in the October 2022 municipal elections, there was immediate interest on Twitter from media and political watchers alike.
Milobar, a long-time friend of Daley, mused that Daley wasn’t involved in organizing the upcoming Scotties Tournament of Hearts because he was likely organizing for a bid for the mayor’s chair. Daley has yet to comment.
Daley has a strong reputation in the community, both as the head of a large accounting firm for many years, as well as a leader in numerous sports and arts organizations for decades. In sports, one of his latest projects has been as co-owner of the Kamloops NorthPaws baseball team.
He also chaired the Kamloops Centre for the Arts society, which worked hard in support of a referendum for a $70 million Kamloops Performing Arts Centre.
When COVID started, Kamloops was poised to have a referendum on the proposed new downtown performing arts centre. Instead, the City cancelled the referendum, and KCA put its lobbying efforts on hold.
At that time, Daley, said, the project would be brought forward when “the time is right.”
It may well be that now is that time.
By the time the October 2022 municipal elections have come around, we will have been in year three of COVID. We’re not through with COVID, but life goes on. Mayor Ken Christian has stated he would like the referendum on the fall election ballot.
While not official, there are strong indications that Christian will not run for another term. Two councillors at least, Dieter Dudy and Arjun Singh, have been pegged as possible mayoral candidates. If any of them runs, history would favour them with the win. Politicians have the upper hand running for mayor of Kamloops.
But we are all getting restless. COVID, wildfires, opioid crisis and escalating housing costs have put the city on edge. There’s a feeling of change in the winds.
While COVID may have made us cautious over the last two years, we are ready to move forward, COVID or no COVID. Kamloops is ready for a performing arts centre and more. The time is right. Expect Norm Daley to lead the charge to make the referendum pass.
Daley may not just be leading the charge for the performing arts centre, but for the mayor’s job as well. And it might well be that Kamloops will be looking for a change around the council table too.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.