Political hopefuls could learn a lot from Pat Wallace

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
January 13, 2018 - 5:00am
Image Credit: CFJC Today

KAMLOOPS — Pat Wallace hasn’t been on Kamloops City council forever. It just seems like it, in a good way.

When I arrived in Kamloops in 1970, it was the time of Mayor Peter Wing and councillors like Tony Romano, Howard Dack, Gordon Bregoliss, Meryl Matthews and Nelson Riis.

It seemed as though new municipalities were springing up everywhere — Brocklehurst, Dufferin and Valleyview, with Westsyde expected to be next. A couple of years later, Kamloops went through the pain of amalgamation, with former Brock mayor Al Thompson taking over as mayor of the conjoined city.

It was several years later when Pat Wallace entered civic politics, serving with several mayors, including Jim Walsh, Cliff Branchflower, Terry Lake, Peter Milobar and myself.

Kamloops is a different place than when Pat was first elected. We’ve seen the building of Riverside Coliseum/ Sandman Centre, the Tournament Capital Centre, major changes to the transportation system, airport expansion, and tremendous growth from the valley bottom up the hillsides and into the Sahali, Aberdeen, Juniper and Batchelor areas.

No one councillor is responsible for such things, but Wallace has been a steady voice at the council table, generally taking a pro-business approach. The media have been writing about her “announcement” this week that she won’t run in this year’s civic elections, but it’s been no secret to her friends, and she’s been saying for more than a year that another run would be “iffy.” At a reception held by the TNRD marking its 50th anniversary several weeks ago, she publicly confirmed it.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Pat since before she first ran for council, and since, serving with her at City Hall and more recently on the TNRD board. We’ve sometimes disagreed, sometimes very strongly, sometimes very publicly.

About half the time, she’s been right. I say that, of course, with tongue in cheek, and we continue to be good friends. Few politicians can lay claim to the kind of resume Pat has accumulated, and she deserves all the accolades she’s certain to get.

I’ve got to think it won’t be easy letting go of politics after more than three decades, but she’ll have a lot of good, proud memories.

Her departure makes the October civic election all that much more intriguing, as it opens up a seat for a newcomer. As reported by CFJC Today, incumbents Donovan Cavers, Dieter Dudy and Kathy Sinclair have already declared their intentions to run again, along with Mayor Ken Christian. (Cavers says this would likely be his last term. He’s working on a change of careers via a B.Ed at TRU.)

It will be surprising, but not shocking, if either Denis Walsh or Tiny Lange drops out. Arjun Singh will definitely run — he will ascend to the presidency of the Union of B.C. Municipalities in September and needs another term on council for that to happen.

I doubt Ray Dhaliwal would have run for a one-year term if he didn’t want to go for the full deal.

All of which means it’s possible, maybe even likely, that Pat Wallace will be the only incumbent not running this year. Her decision may encourage new blood to opt in early.

Bill McQuarrie, who made a credible showing in the mayoral by-election, is mulling things over. He’s got some business irons in the fire and won’t say at this point if he’ll run for mayor again, go for a council position, or stay out of it.

At least one face from the September by-election is already working on another try. Jesse Bochek, who finished second last out of 21 councillor candidates in September, is putting together his campaign team. Says Bochek on his Facebook page, “The opportunity to bring bright and progressive ideas representing Kamloops on a large scale seems very much within reach.”

A city council campaign is a big commitment, and those without name recognition have a tough road ahead. Best get started now.

Here’s a tip for anyone thinking it over: study up on the career of Pat Wallace. She can teach you a lot.