As expected, veteran Kamloops Coun. Arjun Singh will run for mayor in the Oct. 15 civic election.
Singh confirmed his candidacy for mayor at a press conference outside Kamloops City Hall on Friday morning (March 4).
Singh topped the polls in the 2018 civic election, amassing 12,203 votes (11.25 per cent of the vote) to finish first among the 21 candidates seeking eight seats. He was first elected in 2005, failed in a re-election bid in 2008, then was re-elected in the 2011, 2014 and 2018 elections.
Singh, the city’s longest-standing city councillor — having served for 13 years — announced his mayoral bid “with a lot of excitement and a bit of butterflies.”
Singh, 52, flanked by wife Marsha, mom Manju, one-year-old doodle and campaign team members, said Kamloops supported his immigrant family and he wants to give back. He said residents have had a difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic, including isolation and polarization, and he wants to set a tone to “reunite.”
“You can tear things down, you can divide, but the best way to public policy is to unite people and to work together and to be collaborative,” Singh said. “And that’s something that I’ve really believed in all my years on city council, and I really want to take that into the race for mayor.”
Singh touted his experience and network. In addition to four terms on council, Singh was acting mayor in 2017 during the wildfires, served as Union of BC Municipalities president and is currently on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board. Singh is also a RunClub coach — RunClub founder Jo Berry is on his campaign team — and Rotarian.
He said he believes in “strong teams.”
Singh has been criticized by some for being a fence-sitter of sorts on issue, of wishing to please everyone. He called that a “strength” and said he has been a “diplomatic conciliator on council,” for which he makes no apologies.
Asked, however, if he is prepared to make tough decisions that might be unpopular, Singh said some people don’t like him and pointed to difficult decisions during his many years on council, including Ajax mine, pesticides and council pay.
“I’m very comfortable with that, but I also think that one of the superpowers of local government is we agree and disagree respectively,” he said.
Singh said he plans to have at least 100 face-to-face conversations with community members during the campaign and release five to 10 “bold ideas,” the details of which will be revealed later.
One issue Singh has been passionate about is climate action. Asked how he will balance pricey climate action initiatives with increasingly financially strapped households, Singh acknowledged pressure on residents from rising costs.
He said “a lot of funding” is coming from provincial and federal governments, noting Kamloops needs funds to match in order to qualify.
“I really believe that we’re short-changing our children’s future if we don’t invest now,” he said. “So, I would rather find other ways of economizing, beyond economizing on something so important.”
Kamloops businessman and former city councillor Ray Dhaliwal said he will also run for mayor, while Coun. Dieter Duty is rumoured to be considering a run.
Singh said he welcomes other candidates, but hopes to see a positive campaign. He said he is banking on his record and ideas. In addition to Berry, Singh’s campaign team includes Peter Cameron Inglis, Tania Cameron Inglis, Pat Davies, Bonnie Klohn, Nathan Lane, Dan Neviille, Terry Rogers, Chris Sellmer, Tricia Sellmer, Bryan Strome, Paula Schmidt, Pat Tomlinson and Jason Wassing.
Berry — founder of Boogie The Bridge — has never worked on a campaign before. She said she was spurred to action this time because she believes in Singh’s message.
“He’s a very concurrent leader,” Berry said. “He’s the same person at the grocery store as down the street. He is very consistent and very true to his values.”
Tricia Sellmer told KTW she believes Singh has the skill set, commitment, leadership and integrity to be mayor. The local artist also noted he supports the arts.
Singh holds a master’s degree in professional communication from Royal Roads University and a certificate in dialogue, deliberation and public engagement from Fielding Graduate University.
He manages a family-owned apartment complex.
Singh’s campaign website is arjunformayor.ca.