The decision to run for Mayor of Vernon, at age 26, didn’t come without Erik Olesen looking at all aspects of what that means to lead a city.
Olesen, who operates two 24-hour convenience stores in Vernon, will park his name on the ballot for mayor, saying no matter who he has talked to in the city, the idea of a younger candidate entering the race has piqued interest in the community.
“I have also been encouraged and supported by many already in the community to run for mayor based on the drive, passion and leadership ability I can bring forward,” said Olesen. “My career in management for the last 10 years, and now as an operator of two convenience stores, puts myself daily dealing with multiple issues that residents are talking about.”
Olesen said there are three issues everyone is talking about: the homeless/drug addiction situation and affordable housing.
These three issues, said Olesen, can only be tackled by putting one’s self into the current situation which he has done.
“Apart from my business dealing with these issues daily I have spent time over the past few months touring Turning Points (Collaborative Society) buildings and seeing first-hand the situation we are facing,” he said.
“I understand the frustration from business owners in the community because I do have to face these issues daily with my business and understand the strain it puts on being successful. I also understand that the issues are hitting every part of our city so we need to have a proactive approach to building solutions and that needs to be inclusive of all in those decisions; residents, business owners, leaders working directly with the most vulnerable, Interior Health, Turning Points, Upper Room Mission and pushing the provincial/federal leaders in our community to work at securing funding for our community.
“I also need to focus on continuous improvement of infrastructure, create an appealing city that encourages economic growth, work on recreation in the city and most importantly have the ability to work all of these ideas into a budget that does not create a huge download to the taxpayers.”
Don’t think for a minute Olesen is a political neophyte.
He has spent the better part of the last 10 years being involved in politics through running for MLA in 2017 or running for city council at the age of 18 in Ottawa. Olesen has also been part of seven campaigns where he found himself in roles that worked directly with candidates seeking municipal, provincial and federal seats.
Olesen is also a very active member of the community and always looking for ways to give back.
He currently sits on two executive boards and most recently worked with an amazing team and family to have a successful Walk for Alzheimer’s in Vernon where $17,000 dollars was raised.
“We tend to look at age in politics as a downfall to someone’s knowledge base or abilities to become successful politicians which is unfortunate because at the end of the day there are many people such as myself that are willing to set up understanding how to manage budgets, lead teams, be able to make informed facts-based decisions, be open-minded to new ideas and overall have proven to be successful,” he said.
“My goal during this campaign is to show the residents of Vernon that they can put their trust into someone who has their best interests at mind, who is knowledgeable in issues facing the city, who is devoted to feet on the ground rather than behind a closed door, who is willing to work as a team with city staff and councillors to move the city into the future, and who at the end of the day will understand that no one is perfect but its how you bounce back and move forward that counts during tough, challenging times.”