An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
KAMLOOPS WILL HAVE at least one civic party — or slate — competing for spots in this year’s municipal elections.
It’s not the first time for slate politics in Kamloops, nor the second, nor the third. Or fourth.
The one people are most familiar with was Action Team 88, created by mayoral candidate Phil Gaglardi. It was enormously successful in the 1988 election, sweeping most of the council seats.
But it accomplished nothing as Gaglardi discovered that candidates elected as part of the Team had minds of their own and voted accordingly rather than as a block.
Other failed attempts at party politics here included groups like PACE, CORE, the CCC and the Kamloops Voters Association (no connection with the current-day Kamloops Voters Society, which isn’t a party).
Ten years before Gaglardi’s Action Team 88, the KVA elected the mayor and two councillors but it had very little in the way of policies and existed mostly as a means to finance the campaign.
The fact that party politics hasn’t worked in Kamloops civic elections in the past doesn’t deter mayoral candidate Ray Dhaliwal, who has formed Action 22 Kamloops, the name of which is an homage to Gaglardi’s earlier group.
The new Action 22 Kamloops isn’t an official party yet but even if it doesn’t get status it doesn’t mean a group of like-minded people can’t get together and run. Civic party status is mostly about endorsing candidates, raising donations and getting the party’s name on the ballot beside candidates.
There are a couple of important realities to consider about civic elections in Kamloops. One is that Kamloops voters don’t like change — they’ll go for incumbents almost every time. Just look at past results. The other is that when an incumbent mayor retires, more people vote.
The latter fact could offset the first and make a slate of candidates with the right issue have a real impact. Maybe this time, party politics will work.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.