O’Keefe enters the race for Vernon mayor

City of Vernon: Mary Jo O'Keefe ready to move up on the political scene into mayor's chair

Mary-Jo O’Keefe insists she’s ready for Vernon’s top job.

O’Keefe, who is in her second term as city councillor, announced Friday that she will let her name stand for mayor in the Nov. 15 election.

“It’s a natural progression,” she said, adding that she was also a school trustee for 15 years.

“I have the experience, knowledge of government and vision to lead this community in a positive and meaningful way.”

O’Keefe, 61, insists her running is not a criticism of her council colleagues, but she admits she hasn’t been pleased with the overall direction of the city.

“There are many things council has done that are fantastic but there are lots of areas where we lost sight of the ball,” she said.

“We concentrated on the new parks agreements but while that was occurring, lots came up (for sale) on the lakeshore and we lost those lots and won’t have access to them.”

Raised in the Vernon area and married to former councillor David O’Keefe, Mary-Jo O’Keefe has a masters in business administration and was managing director of Community Futures. She also ran Vernon’s tourism office and currently operates two businesses, MJO Communications and MJO Tours.

“I would like to see Vernon become a city that is not only sustainable but a city that is revitalized and vibrant,” she said.

“A community that can facilitate achieving the goals and dreams of all of our citizens in an efficient and productive manner. I believe we need leadership that understands the value of the tax dollar and really can ensure we receive the fullest benefit for that tax dollar.”

A priority will be the economy.

“We need jobs not just for our children, but our children’s children,” she said, adding that targeted, achievable goals for economic development are required.

“We need to help our citizens achieve their full potential. We need to make it easier to thrive and do business here.”

Among the focuses, according to O’Keefe, are sports and cultural activities.

“Finally, I believe the downtown does act as the heart of our community and we need to support and enhance its development growth,” she said.

For the city to proceed on major issues, O’Keefe says there is a need to maintain strong relationships with adjacent jurisdictions.

“This council has made huge strides to work together with our neighbours. I intend to continue with that and make sure the whole region works together,” she said.

The other declared candidates for Vernon mayor are economist Victor Cumming and former city councillor Klaus Tribes.

“We have a very strong slate (mayoralty candidates) and it will be good for Vernon to hear what the issues are,” said O’Keefe.