Things we learned from the by-election

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
October 2, 2017 - 5:37am Updated: October 2, 2017 - 11:18am

KAMLOOPS — So, what did we learn from the by-election?

Well, for one thing, even though the turnout was diaphanously better than most of us predicted, it was still pitiful. Nobody should be pleased with a 21 per cent turnout.

Ken Christian’s vote total of a little over 9,200 was the lowest received by a winning mayoral candidate in 20 years, despite the fact the population of Kamloops has increased by 15,000 during that time.

Christian was elected by 13 per cent of the current eligible voters. That’s not fair to him, or to the community. Still, he was a clear winner.

We also learned that Kamloops isn’t exactly embracing a youth movement in its civic political scene. Even though there were a number of bright young candidates both for mayor and for council, they all finished well down in the rankings.

The election of Kathy Sinclair maintains the gender ratio on council but men still outnumber women by two to one. It might be time for Kamloops to work on that.

We also learned that relying too heavily on social media doesn’t guarantee success. Candidates who checked all the boxes of effective campaigning, including mainstream-media advertising, did well.

And even if you have years of previous experience in other levels of government, if you don’t campaign hard enough, you don’t get elected.

As to the kind of leadership Ken Christian will bring to City Hall, well, he ran a safe, low-key campaign. He’ll probably approach the mayoralty in the same way, maintaining an even keel and conservative style emphasizing careful administration, and the newly constituted council is almost certain to follow the same path in the run-up to October 2018.

This past weekend, Kamloopsians elected three able, proven people they know, and the winners deserve our congratulations.

So, steady as she goes. If we learned one thing from this by-election about what might happen in 2018, it’s that Kamloops voters — certainly those who showed up — aren’t ready for big changes.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.