FILE — Akbal Mund.

Interest in Vernon politics high

A total of 25 people — one shy of equalling record — have filed to run for Vernon mayor and council

You’d think 21 councillor candidates in the City of Vernon’s Oct. 20 municipal election would be a record.

You’d think wrong.

It’s one shy of the 22 hopefuls who put their name forward in 2005, along with four mayoral candidates, for a total of 26 people seeking election 13 years ago. There are four mayoral candidates this year, meaning a potential 25 names on the ballot (candidates have until this week to drop out).

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“Well the interest is obviously there, 25 people coming forward for seven positions,” said Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund, who is one of the 21 seeking a council seat next month.

“I can’t argue with people coming forward to run for council. I just hope everyone is running for the best interest of the community. Sometimes people want to run for their own sake and that’s happened in the past. I’m just hoping people look at the candidates, look at what they’ve done in the community over the years and vote accordingly.”

Vernon will have a new mayor for a third-straight election with Mund choosing to run for council. Victor Cumming, Art Gourley, Erik Olesen and Darrin Taylor are running to replace him.

Incumbents Scott Anderson, Dalvir Nahal and Brian Quiring are on the councillor ballot, along with Mund. Juliette Cunningham and Catherine Lord are not seeking re-election, and Bob Spiers died in office in June.

One thing 25 people on a ballot may cause a problem for is groups looking at holding an all-candidates forum.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will hold a forum on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at the Prestige Hotel, but only the mayors will be taking questions. The councillor candidates will be set up at tables, trade show-like.

“Councillors will have tables set up so they have an opportunity to interact,” said chamber general manager Dione Chambers. “It’s the only way we’re able to do it because if we give everyone two minutes (to speak), that’s the whole evening.

“It would be great to give councillor candidates the opportunity to speak in front of a crowd. But in this format, it gives them a one-on-one. It’s the best we can do.”

The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre historically hosts a forum, and they will again.

Executive director Jim Harding said the focus will solely be on the referendum that appears on the ballot, whether residents favour the Regional District of North Okanagan borrowing up to $25 million to build a new cultural facility to be located in Greater Vernon.

The town hall-style forum will be Monday, Oct. 15, and only council candidates will be invited to that one out of respect for a mayoral candidate forum being organized by an Okanagan media outlet, to be held possibly on Saturday, Oct. 13.

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