The race for Vernon’s top job is underway.
Rob Sawatzky, a local physician for 21 years, announced Tuesday he will challenge incumbent Mayor Wayne Lippert during November’s civic election.
“I’ll launch the ship and see how far it goes,” said Sawatzky, who is 59 and retired from his practice.
“Democracy works best if voters have good choices and I am running to give voters another good choice.”
Sawatzky describes himself as having strong communication skills.
“I believe I offer qualities that could fix some of the dysfunction in the governance process. The Greater Vernon process appears to have broken down,” he said.
“I think I’m a proven facilitator with the ability to help people with diverse opinions work effectively together for the common good. My career has involved advocating for patients and I would utilize those skills for the community.”
Sawatzky says there is also a need for council to focus on finances and if residents are getting value for their tax dollars.
“Part of the mayor’s job is to also get involved in bigger valley-wide issues like transportation and water.”
Born in Saskatchewan, Sawatzky had a medical practice in New Brunswick, served on the New Brunswick Medical Society’s finance committee and was a clinical instructor at McGill University in Montreal.
In Vernon, he is a former president of the Ribbons of Green Trails Society and was on the city’s transportation demand management committee. He has also volunteered with Vernon Winter Carnival, the Vernon Vipers and sports events.
He says running for mayor is a natural progression of wanting to be involved in the community.
“The community has supported me and offered programs to my children,” said Sawatzky, who has been married for 27 years and has two children at university.
Leading up to November, Sawatzky says his goal will be to increase his profile among residents.
“Any time you are doing something new, there is always a worry about how to do it effectively. I am sure it will be a learning process,” he said.
Lippert announced earlier this year that he would pursue a third term as mayor Nov. 19.
As of Tuesday, city hall has given out two nomination packages for potential mayoralty candidates and four for councillors.
The period for filing nomination papers runs from Oct. 4 to 14.