Incumbent councillor Sadie Hunter said she would use lived and learned experience to address community challenges, if she becomes the city’s next mayor.
Hunter, a 43-year-old small business owner, is capping off her first term on council after working for Thompson Rivers University and A Way Home Kamloops, obtaining her master’s degree and living in low-income housing as a single mother.
“It’s very important to understand the issues, but also to understand from experience,” Hunter said. “There’s a real difference between hearing about it, talking about it with others, but providing that lived experience provides a real different lens in decision-making.”
Hunter said if people are looking for change, they need to choose a different type of leader and a “new kind of leader” is promoted throughout her campaign. She said it looks like a younger professional with a family who has had to navigate challenges — and is also female.
Hunter is the lone woman to run for mayor — and the first female candidate in Kamloops this century. She noted it has been 30 years since the city’s only female mayor — Kenna Cartwright — was in office.
Hunter said she has spoken to other female mayors in B.C. who have said it can be intimidating to enter the traditionally male-dominated field, noting women, often primary caregivers, face challenges with time demands.
Pointing to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Hunter said women experience bullying and toxicity, which can also be a deterrent. Hunter, however, said she is not easily intimidated, which she attributes to a rough-and-tumble background.
“It’s something I think I want to push through, to set an example and hopefully inspire other women and the next generation who are thinking about getting into these positions to just try it and go for it,” she said.
Hunter was initially quiet on council, but has more recently come equipped with detailed questions, hammering home points.
She has advocated for accessibility initiatives in city projects, improvements to HandyDart transportation and extreme weather planning. Hunter said she listens, learns and understands issues — an analytical, data-driven approach informed by her experience as a journalist and scientist. She cited social issues, inflationary costs of projects, wages, programming, services and emergency response resource allocation as top issues.
Hunter spent two years on the Union of BC Municipalities board and has been in contact with elected officials about the healthcare crisis. She said she ran for the NDP in the last provincial election because it was apparent the party would win and Kamloops would have benefited from having an MLA in government.
“My goal has always been to be in a position where I can advocate strongly for Kamloops,” she said. “I’m running for mayor because I feel that is the position.”