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Hamer-Jackson reflects on mayoral victory in Kamloops

In his first foray into politics, the small business owner defeated four challengers, including three incumbent councillors

Kamloops mayor-elect Reid-Hamer Jackson said he wasn’t surprised he topped the polls on Saturday (Oct. 15), though he suspects some may have doubted his ability to win the 2022 civic election.

“I never get in a race to lose,” Hamer-Jackson said, adding it felt good to see his name as the elected mayor. “I know you guys [local media] did, but I didn’t think I was going to lose. It’s like they say — you can’t fight city hall, so you might as well help run it.”

Hamer-Jackson spoke to KTW and other media outside the Mount Paul Golf Course restaurant, where he and a raucous group of supporters gathered for an after-party as election night results rolled in.

In his first foray into politics at any level, Hamer-Jackson led from the beginning and was elected by a 1,648-vote margin over incumbent councillor Dieter Dudy. Hamer-Jackson finished with 7,298 votes, followed by Dudy (5,650 votes, incumbent councillor Sadie Hunter (4,578 votes), incumbent councillor Arjun Singh (2,932 votes) and Ray Dhaliwal (2,629 votes).

Hamer-Jackson received 31.61 per cent of the vote. Overall, voter turnout was 29.01 per cent, with 23,218 of the city’s 80.025 eligible voters casting ballots.

Hamer-Jackson said he felt his focus on community safety in the community resonated with voters.

Among his top priorities for the coming four-year term are community safety, seeking better management of wet shelters in town, addressing housing needs and improving transit service.

(Wet shelter is the term used for shelters that permit drug use).

The 63-year-old owner of Tru Auto Market downtown alleged shelters in the city “are not as full as we all think.” He added that he wants to have discussions with the city’s building and planning departments and the Canadian Home Builders-Central Interior on housing issues.

“There’s a list of things to do,” he said, also citing transit issues from a month he spent experimentally riding the bus in Kamloops.

Earlier in the campaign, Hamer-Jackson floated the idea of IQ tests for city staff, if he was elected. Asked if that was something he still intends to seek, Hamer-Jackson said he wants to seriously consider the qualifications of staff members.

Asked how he intends to make up for his lack of experience, Hamer-Jackson indicated he plans to lean on people with experience to show him the ropes.

“I’ve been dealing with people my whole life. I like listening to people. How does a veterinarian do it?” Hamer-Jackson replied, seemingly referring to former Kamloops mayor Terry Lake, who was a veterinarian before venturing into politics.

Hamer-Jackson said his first step will be a meeting with city chief administrative officer David Trawin — who stopped in at Hamer-Jackosn’s election night party to congratulate the mayor-elect — noting he will also speak to other people.

Asked how he sees himself working alongside the new council — which includes three incumbent councillors, four first-time councillors and a former city councillor — Hamer-Jackson said he viewed council as a team.

“I’m going to try my best to work together,” he said.

Asked how he feels about working with re-elected Coun. Dale Bass, who criticized his shelter proposal for a dry shelter in Rayleigh, equating it to a “concentration camp,” Hamer-Jackson said he feels she needs to listen more, noting his proposal had nothing to do with what she was describing.

“I’ve tried to get her up at four o’clock in the morning, many mornings, to talk to people on the streets, like I do. I’ve tried to get her to go have a look at recovery centres, to just see the model of. And she didn’t want to look at any of that because she was a reporter way back in the day and she knows everything about everything. I think that she has to start to listen herself because she knew — she knew — I had no intention of that at all. If she wants to listen, I’ll work with her,” he said.

Speaking to his supporters inside the restaurant, Hamer-Jackson thanked his campaign team and donors and said it was important for him to have his election night party on the Tk’emlúps reserve, noting he wants to be inclusive of everyone and work with the band as mayor.

“The citizens of the community, that’s why I’m running,” Hamer-Jackson said in his speech.

He went on to note he has been working for years on solutions to social issues, adding there needs to be a review of shelters and motels where the homeless are being lodged. He added there needs to be more help in getting people into recovery programs and criticized the practice of BC Housing placing wet shelters in the middle of Kamloops neighbourhoods.

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, the current council will meet for the final time. The new council, led by Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson and including councillors Katie Neustaeter, Bill Sarai, Mike O’Reilly, Kelly Hall, Margot Middleton, Dale Bass, Stephen Karpuk and Nancy Bepple, will be sworn in on Tuesday, Nov. 1.