Surrounded by a group of 40 supporters at Bright Eye Brewing in North Kamloops on Monday morning (June 27), Katie Neustaeter announced her intention to run for council in this fall’s civic election.
Neustaeter adds her name to a growing list of candidates, with several incumbents on council having announced they will not seek re-election.
Neustaeter, 40, is director of communications for United Way British Columbia and a former broadcast media personality.
Neustaeter’s press conference came with a Parks and Recreation sitcom reference. Neustaeter’s husband, Joel, played Gloria Estefan’s “Get On Your Feet” after his wife’s speech. It was the song played during fictional politician and eternal optimist Leslie Knope’s campaign announcement on Parks and Recreation and elicited some laughs.
Neustaeter has volunteered for the city’s social planning council and was previously a support worker for School District 73. She has spent most of her life in Kamloops and cited her passion for the city and its residents.
Neustaeter said she decided to make her announcement at Bright Eye Brewing because it is an example of where the city is at right now — a popular local business started by friends and one that was required to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic, surrounded by redevelopment and located on a poverty-stricken corridor.
Neustaeter noted challenges, such as environmental extremes and breakdown in civil discourse. If elected, she said she would commit to affordability, accountability and equitability and would bring understanding of complex financial oversight, crisis management, organizational leadership, volunteerism and community roots.
“No one will be more committed to this community than I am,” said Neustaeter, who is the daughter of former BC Liberal MLA Kevin Krueger. As for whether she caught the political bug from her dad, she said: “I think that I learned a lot from watching that experience and all of those years of public service. I would say both of my parents were very passionate about caring for people.”
Alix Dolson of the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre is managing Neustaeter’s campaign.
“I think that there’s just so much polarization and it’s really hard to find a candidate that has the experience in community, in the non-profit-sector, in the business sector, in all of these intersecting pieces that are necessary for a successful community to thrive — and Katie is that person,” Dolson told KTW.
Also in attendance on Monday were former city councillor Tina Lange, former KTW and CFJC media personality Tara Holmes and Arpa Investment partner Joshua Knaak.
“She is very passionate about the community,” Knaak told KTW. “She’s been involved in a wide variety of things, she’s got context as a resident, as a director for not-for-profit, understands business. She just brings well-rounded perspective.”
Husband Joel Neustaeter added: “Katie would be great on council because, first and foremost, she loves people and she loves the city of Kamloops and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to help make people’s lives, who live in this great community, better and she’s got great experience being in non-profit, her volunteer work, time in media. She’s been exposed to many facets of the community, on the development side and the social issues side, as well.”