Dieter Dudy’s campaign headquarters downtown was emptying out on Saturday night, with uneaten food and drinks left to be consumed.
Dudy said he was not surprised by the results of the election that saw him place second in the mayoral race, behind mayor-elect Reid Hamer-Jackson. Sadie Hunter was third, Arjun Singh placed fourth and Ray Dhaliwal finished fifth.
“Because I felt that sense of populism on the part of the people,” Dudy said. “They’re angry — and I wasn’t necessarily the answer.”
Dudy believes Hamer-Jackson tapped into an anger vote.
“Absolutely,” Dudy said. “Because that’s exactly what he was going for. It was something that affected him personally and that’s exactly what he was striving for. My hope is that it goes beyond that for him and that he recognizes all the things that are necessary for the community. I’m sure that he’s going to give that a lot of thought moving forward.”
Dudy said he is disappointed.
“I honestly felt that I could offer this community something from my eight years’ experience as a councillor and move them ahead with respect to vision and that,” he said.
“But, you know, it’s up to the public to decide what they want and they’ve done that and I need to accept that.”
Asked if he and fellow mayoral candidates Sadie Hunter and Arjun Singh — all three being incumbent councillors — split the vote and let Hamer-Jackson win, Dudy replied:
“It’s hard to say. I mean, possibly. Sadie was in the equation, too. Who knows? I just feel that it came down to the fact that he had a particular support behind him and I had whatever support I had. And it was strong. It was strong. I came in second.”
Both Hunter and Dhaliwal told KTW they felt they ran good campaigns.
Hunter said she was proud of the campaign she ran, describing it as the most positively focused campaign of the five mayoral candidates.
Both Hunter and Dhaliwal said they felt Hamer-Jackson resonated with voters who were angry.
“Much of what was said was rhetoric and it was toxic and I’m concerned what’s going to happen when he realizes he can’t do a lot of what he said,” Hunter said. “I’m worried for our community. I think people will be more frustrated and more angry.”
Dhaliwal said he felt voters were most concerned about homelessness and crime. He said he could not campaign on those issues to the extent Hamer-Jackson did as Dhaliwal noted he knows — from his one-year stint on council from 2017 to 2018 — that there are limitations on what the city can do. He said issues on criminal justice are outside the municipal purview.
“I couldn’t promise things that I knew I couldn’t do anything about, so my campaign focused on the taxpayers, the youth and the seniors, mostly,” Dhaliwal said.
He said he felt Hamer-Jackson overpromised on those areas, but noted the mayor-elect has four years to show Kamloops what he can do.
“He made a big point on it and people bought into it,” Dhaliwal said, adding he is interested in seeing the ideas Hamer-Jackson has in store, but doubts the success rate of the idea for a recovery centre locally.
Hunter said she felt Hamer-Jackson supporters bought into his quick-fix ideas, such as the drug- recovery centre proposal for rural Kamloops, which she said lacked details, such as how to ensure people access it. She said it’s not as feasible a project as he made it seem.
Hunter said she hopes Hamer-Jackson will drop the “toxic rhetoric” once on council and learns how to lead, arguing he will need to both lead the city council and represent Kamloops in a positive way.
“And the current approach is not going to get him there,” Hunter said.
Singh was wearing a Kamloops Blazers sweatshirt and hugging supporters at St. Andrews on the Square after the results. He said he thinks he and his team ran the best campaign they could.
“Obviously, it wasn’t as successful as I thought it would be,” he said.
Singh said he is interested in understanding what people are saying in the community through the results, adding he was surprised by Hamer-Jackson ‘s victory.
“I’m hoping that he will understand the importance of the job and the importance of representing all of the community and not just certain factions,” Singh said. “He’s obviously tapped into a lot of frustrations.”
Singh said he believes some people in the community will feel “apprehensive” by the results, including staff at the ASK Wellness Society, the social agency that was targeted by Hamer-Jackson during the campaign, with the mayor-elect calling for an independent review shelters and motel rooms for the homeless operated by ASK Wellness and other social agencies.
Singh said he is happy with the council elected, which he described as balanced with experience from incumbents, all three of whom were all re-elected. Singh said he will continue to build the community, but he doesn’t know if he will run again for council.
Of the five mayoral candidates, only Dudy stopped in at Hamer-Jackson’s election night party at the Mount Paul Golf Course to congratulate him on his victory.
“He’s a very toxic individual, so I would rather not go out of my way to spend any time around him,” Hunter said.
Dhaliwal said he didn’t stop by as he was also celebrating his birthday as part of his election night party at the Coast Kamloops Hotel.
“We were still dancing and partying and karaoke,” Dhaliwal said.
Arjun Singh said he sent Hamer-Jackson a congratulatory text, but in retrospect feels he should have dropped in.
Former Kamloops mayor and former MLA Terry Lake campaigned for Dudy. He predicted the race was going to come down to Hamer-Jackson or Dudy, but noted he thought voters would ultimately go to the centre.
“Typically, Kamloopsians do that,” he said. “In a way, they did. They voted for someone with a kind of populist right-of-centre view, but council has a mix, so there’s a balance there. But the people are never wrong. That’s what I’ve learned over the years, so the new mayor and council are going to have to learn how this works and how they can make positive change for our city because we are at a crossroads, for sure. And it’s going to take a lot of work to get us on the right track.”
Asked if anything could have been done differently by Dudy’s campaign, Lake replied: “No, you know, time for change is a very, very powerful political wind. And, if that wind is blowing, it’s very hard to go against it, so I think this was a time-for-change moment for Kamloops voters.”
Lake said Hamer-Jackson has two paths in front of him.
“He could try to do the things that he said he would do and I guarantee you, he will flame out and possibly have a bunch of good city staff leave because they can get jobs anywhere,” Lake said.
“Or he can learn how this all works and build relationships and work hard to try and understand how he can make a positive change. And I hope he will do the latter and I think he has good intentions. He’s a good man and I hope he takes the time and learns to do things in a way that brings people along, rather than blows things up.”