Christian focusing on five issues

After one year at the helm of the Tournament Capital, Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian is seeking re-election.

“Serving in this capacity has been a tremendous honour,” Christian said while surrounded by a group of supporters during his announcement and nomination filing at city hall on Wednesday.

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While he has only been mayor for a year, the 64-year-old is far from a political rookie.

Christian served as school board trustee, school board chair, city councillor and mayor for a combined 25 years, along with nearly four decades in public health.

Asked about transitioning from councillor to mayor, Christian noted the day-to-day obligations of being the city’s top politician and having to manage council — one he touted for its diversity, but a little slow to assess facts.

“You have to be somewhat authoritarian in terms of getting on with the business that needs to get done,” he said. “The little bit of the ogre that has to come out from time to time.”

Christian has identified five issues critically important in Kamloops: building relationships, controlling taxes, affordable housing, downtown revitalization and dependable infrastructure.

While his platform around those pillars will be released in coming weeks, Christian said he also wants to build on relationships with the Thompson-Nicola school board, Thompson Rivers University, Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and Interior Health.

He also wants to meet with NDP cabinet ministers to ensure the province understands the city’s needs.

Christian pointed to “modest” tax and utility increases — about two per cent in 2017 — while making improvements to transportation infrastructure and policing

Asked if he would commit to keeping taxes around that rate, Christian said picking a number without facts would be shooting in the dark.

“But I’m going to tell you this, I am going to work hard to make sure that any increase is justified and serves the needs of the citizens of Kamloops,” he said.

Christian called connecting downtown commercial areas part of his “vision” and wants to shepherd planning to revitalize the Tranquille corridor.

He noted council’s approval of six affordable-housing projects and emphasized the importance of maintaining affordability for the city’s most vulnerable.

Christian also stressed the importance of ensuring city infrastructure accommodates growth and climate change.

“I want to continue to focus investment on active transportation and I’d be remise if I did not mention that, last year, we experienced a lot of complaints about snow removal, a lot of complaints about potholes — and we can do better,” he said.

“And I commit to the citizens of Kamloops, if I’m elected, that I will push for those improvements.”

He said that means working with the city’s public works department to make sure it has the best equipment, scheduling and operators, though he added it is unclear if it would result in spending more money.

Christian is on Facebook (Ken Christian for Mayor), has a website (kenchristian.ca) and is on Twitter (@KChristian8).

He can be reached by email at kenchristian@telus.net.

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