KAMLOOPS — 24-year-old Mike McKenzie is the youngest candidate running for mayor in the civic by-election, but he says he's far from inexperienced.
"I was on the national council for the National Association of Friendship Centres, I was the National Youth Representative, I was a director with that board as well," McKenzie said. "I was vice president of the National Youth Council, I've been a tribal council member here for the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, I've helped co-found some leadership circles within the provincial government. So, a lot of the work that I've been doing for the past few years has been setting me up for a role like this."
For McKenzie, the role of mayor requires broad shoulders, to carry the decisions of city council, and potential community opposition.
"When it comes down to a mayor, I feel like you need to be somebody who can sit in the middle, and you can hold the load for everybody," he said, "so that the direction that comes from council can be managed in an efficient way, where the councillors feel like somebody is listening to them and that somebody can engage with their voice, so that what they're saying isnt just actually being said, it's moving somewhere."
While other candidates have focused on affordability and healthcare as key interests, McKenzie is focusing on bringing people together rather than taking a firm stance on any particular issue.
"We have so many issues, but if people aren't engaged, and understanding, and articulating the issues, then we're going to be stuck in a place where is what I've seen in communities is certain people get ahead, or they get into power, or there's a certain group of people who take over, and those groups of people and the most marginalized and vulnerable people in a community are the ones who are impacted the most."
McKenzie's biggest concern is getting young voters engaged in the conversation.
"I'm feeling like I'm running as a last hope for young people. There's a lot of people out there (saying), 'is Kamloops ready to have a mayor that's young?' I'm saying, 'I'm ready,' so are we ready to do this?"
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