Economist in the running for top city seat

An economist and community volunteer has cast his eyes on Vernon’s top job

An economist and community volunteer has cast his eyes on Vernon’s top job.

Victor Cumming has thrown his hat into the ring for mayor for the Nov. 15 civic election.

“There are some exciting challenges for Vernon and Vernon needs strong leadership,” said the 59-year-old economic researcher and regional economist who has lived in the community since 1992.

“We need a council with broad experience and I see myself with that skill-set.”

Born in Golden and raised in Naramata, Cumming has a bachelor of arts degree in economics and geography and a master of arts in rural planning and development. He has taught economic development for Simon Fraser University for a decade and his consulting firm provides economic development, planning and operation assistance to local, regional and First Nations governments across Canada.

Since arriving in Vernon, Cumming has coached soccer and football and been involved with the Okanagan Landing Community Association, the Ribbons of Green Trail Society, the North Okanagan Areas Trust and Trinity United Church.

“What I bring is balance. I have spent my daytime with economic development but I have spent my free time on social issues,” he said.

“If we have great parks and facilities, it makes Vernon a better place to live.”

Cumming insists new approaches are needed to address the infrastructure deficit in Vernon.

“You can’t just pay your way out of these challenges, it’s too expensive. We need to innovate,” he said.

As for creating jobs, he says Vernon’s diverse economy is a positive.

“The strength is with existing businesses already here. They are strong locally, regionally and internationally. The focus is, how do we grow those businesses?”

One issue not on Cumming’s radar is possible amalgamation of Greater Vernon.

“That’s a non-Vernon issue. Vernon is not in a position to say amalgamation (should proceed). The jurisdictions around Vernon have to decide. Until then, it’s co-operation,” he said.

Former city councillor Klaus Tribes has already announced he is running for mayor and it’s expected that at least one other individual may enter the race to replace Rob Sawatzky, who is not seeking re-election.

“I think my chances are good based on my skills and abilities,” said Cumming, who is married, has four children and two grandchildren.

“But if someone comes along who is better qualified and is desired by the community, fantastic.”