An incumbent city councillor has announced his intention to run again in the fall civic election. Mike O’Reilly, who works in the industrial sector and was first elected to council in 2018, said earlier this year he was considering a run for mayor. On Wednesday morning (June 22), outside The Hive office building downtown, O’Reilly announced he will, in fact, run again for one of eight council seats
“When I looked at the big picture, if I were to be running for mayor, the way I count it is I would have only two or three returning potential councillors, based on people just not running again,” O’Reilly said. “And that is not good for the continuity of government.”
Councillors Dale Bass and Bill Sarai are also seeking re-election on council, while councillors Dieter Dudy and Arjun Singh are running for mayor. Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian and Coun. Kathy Sinclair are not seeking re-election, while councillors Denis Walsh and Sadie Hunter have not yet declared. Hunter is holding a press conference on June 23.
Although O’Reilly shares campaign supporters Henry Pejril and Terry Lake with Dudy, O’Reilly is not backing any particular mayoral candidate.
Along with Dudy and Singh, businessmen Ray Dhaliwal and Reid Hamer-Jackson have also said they will run for mayor.
O’Reilly said two strong incumbent councillors will be on the mayoral ballot, noting it is important for someone who has been through local government to occupy the mayor’s chair. He neither confirmed nor ruled out a future run for mayor.
O’Reilly said he is proud of his track record in the last four years, citing 6,300 new business licenses, upgrades to the Tournament Capital Centre, new playgrounds on the North Shore and downtown, the patio expansion program, funding for 25 new RCMP members, new housing and expansion of the revitalization tax exemption. He pointed to The Hive building as an example of revitalization tax exemption results, something he has championed throughout the term.
“It does take that long when policy is implemented to actually see the fruits of your labour and that’s why I’m very happy to be here today,” he said.
O’Reilly said it is important for a councillor to not react to social media and local news stories of the day and, instead, focus on core responsibilities of local government. He said residents do not call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fix potholes in Kamloops and, similarly, municipal tax dollars should not be used to build homeless shelters, fix the mental-health crisis or stop climate change.
He said core responsibilities include community and neighbourhood safety (increasing community service officers and not normalizing needles at playgrounds, camping on soccer fields and feces picked up by businesses), development approvals (policy to make the process more efficient), recreational facilities (ice sheets, a new pool and Kamloops Centre for the Arts) and transportation (emergency exits, line-painting and potholes).
O’Reilly’s campaign managers are Pejril and Jasmine Devick.
Devick said O’Reilly has gumption to follow through on big ideas, noting O’Reilly became focused on the future of Kamloops when he had a son.
“I’m really excited to have someone who is closer to my age demographic running for council with some experience under his belt now,” Devick said,
Pejril said he has known O’Reilly since he was a kid. Similar to his backing of Dudy for mayor, Pejril said he has volunteered to help O’Reilly because the incumbent councillor’s morals and ideals are similar to his own.
He said he appreciates the way in which O’Reilly has made change, taking issues to the committee level and working through the process, rather than yelling and screaming about problems.
Lake — a former city councillor, mayor and MLA — said he is supporting candidates who want to take the city forward in a positive way. He said there has been a tendency to try to solve every problem, adding that O’Reilly’s comments about the role of local government make sense.
“Let’s be really good at the things local government is supposed to be doing,” he said. “Work with other levels, but let’s not try to solve all the problems and alleviate other levels of government their responsibilities.”