It’s the shortest ballot in nine years, but the race for mayor promises to dominate voters’ attention.
Incumbent Wayne Lippert will go head-to-head against Patrick Davies and Robert Sawatzky for Vernon’s top job during the Nov. 19 civic election.
“It means people are interested in the community,” said Lippert of his challengers.
Lippert was among four candidates in 2005 and six in 2008, and while there are only three this time around, he says he will take campaigning seriously.
“I never take anything for granted. I need to get people out to vote,” said the 56-year-old former mechanic.
Lippert says there have been steps taken to ensure city hall is meeting the needs of residents.
“We have gone through some challenging times with the economy and we’ve been able to provide services and the necessary infrastructure,” he said.
Lippert points out that taxes have decreased in recent years.
“We’ve been able to manage the city business well.”
He admits, though, that not everyone has been pleased with council’s actions, including, most recently, the plan to reduce lanes on 43rd Avenue.
“But people need to look at all of the record,” he said.
“There are businesses that have confidence in the community. Six years ago, there were drugs and crime downtown and we’ve made huge strides.”
Sawatzky, a retired physician, launched his campaign even before nominations closed Friday.
“I’ve been consulting with a lot of people in the community,” said the 59-year-old.
“The groundswell of support is gratifying.”
Sawatzky says his primary message during the campaign will focus on accountability.
“We propose to institute an external (financial) audit to provide factual background for future budgets. Are we providing services efficiently?” he said.
“Every service we provide needs a sustainable budget.”
Sawatzky also wants to improve the relationship between Vernon and the regional district and Coldstream over water and parks and recreation.
Sawatzky is concerned that there’s three people on the ballot.
“It’s to the advantage of the incumbent to divide the vote,” he said.
Like Sawatzky, this is Davies first time running for public office.
“The big thing is to get out and meet people and here what they have to say,” said the the 45-year-old owner of Latitude Marine.
“I want to hear from people because they’re the ones who elect us.”
Davies says his message will be very clear.
“We need to have change. We don’t need another six years of what we’ve had,” he said.
“There has been a lack of development. We haven’t seen anything new (business) moving in. I believe I’m the person to set that tone.”
Davies welcomes having three names on the ballot.
“The more choices we have, the better,” he said. “During the last election, there was 25 per cent voter turnout. We need to get people out and be active in the process.”