A former Kamloops councillor is eyeing a run for mayor in next year’s civic election, on Oct. 15, 2022.
Ray Dhaliwal, who was elected in a 2016 byelection and served until October 2018, when he failed in his re-election bid, told KTW.
“It’s 90 per cent positive, yes,” he said, noting there are plenty of issues that need addressing. “Still my original plan was safety and security and good-paying jobs for young people, which I’ve created for these youngsters myself.”
Dhaliwal was criticized in the past for a perceived lack of commitment on council. However, he said he has hired good young people to help with his security-related businesses, leaving more time for political life.
Other names are floating around in political circles, leading to speculation that next year’s mayoral race may be one of significant interest.
Although Mayor Ken Christian — who was elected in a 2017 byelection and again in 2018 in a landslide victory — would not speak about his future with KTW at this time, he has long been rumoured to not be seeking another term as mayor.
Christian said he will make an announcement at a later date.
However, two councillors are said to be mulling mayoral campaigns: Dieter Dudy and Arjun Singh. Asked whether they plan to run for mayor, however, neither councillor would confirm such speculation.
Instead, both indicated plans to seek another term as a city councillor.
“I don’t really know,” Singh said when asked if he is planning to run for mayor in 2022.
“I’m running for council for sure and I’ll let the mayor make his decision as to what he kind of wants to do. We’ll figure it out from there. I think that’s as far as I’ve thought about it, right?”
“For now, let’s say that I’m running for council,” Dudy replied when asked the same question.
“I’m not going to say one way or another until the mayor says what he wants to do, but for now, let’s assume I’m running for council.”
Dudy ran for mayor in 2011, shocking political pundits when he almost upset incumbent mayor Peter Milobar (now Kamloops-North MLA), losing by a mere 235 votes — 9,391 to 9,156. Dudy was then elected to council in 2014 and 2018.
Another former councillor, Nancy Bepple — who served from 2008 to 2014 — said she is “very interested in the possibility of running” due to three issues: affordability, livability and jobs.
One family she knows left Kamloops due to affordability issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s a tragedy,” Bepple said, noting the people were involved in community events and helped make the city a better place.
“Going forward, I think those are three things we have to really keep in mind.”
As for those on council, it appears most will seek re-election.
Coun. Denis Walsh recently told KTW he will run again, despite initially leaning toward not seeking re-election.
Walsh said council’s decision to proceed with a pilot project in Riverside Park involving commercial rentals helped change his mind.
It appears most of his council colleagues are also planning to run again in 2022, with many of them citing unfinished business due to a tumultuous term during which they have jumped from crisis to crisis.
These crises included the fatal Snowbirds crash, the Parkcrest elementary fire, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation’s announcement that it had discovered the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
“I just feel that we haven’t really had a chance to do everything we wanted to do,” Dudy said.
In addition to Walsh, Dudy and Singh, others on council who have confirmed re-election bids are Dale Bass, Sadie Hunter, Bill Sarai and Kathy Sinclair.
Mike O’Reilly said he has not yet decided.
Councillors spoke to KTW about their plans, weighed in on the bizarre term that has been and looked ahead to the future.
Sinclair said the ground has shifted a lot since the beginning of the term in late 2018.
Sinclair had previously won a seat in a byelection in 2017.
She said she wants to continue learning and being of service to the community.
“It’s been a very different role from the one I signed on to do in 2017, but I think, without exception, all of us on council currently have been readjusting and are taking our roles pretty seriously, myself included, and responding to crisis,” Sinclair said.
“It’s not a lot of fun the way things have been going lately, but just the idea of being of service to people in our community and people in our city as we recover through some pretty challenging times.”
Hunter said, at this point, she doesn’t see why she wouldn’t run because she remains invested in the community.
The first-term councillor said she would like to continue work on economic development if elected for a second term and continue to ensure underrepresented people get a voice at the table.
Hunter also said it would be helpful to have continuity on council. However, she noted the next municipal election is 16 months away and many variables remain unknown, which could lead to a change of heart in the future.
“That said, you just never know what can come up, right?” Hunter said.
“If you were to ask us at the beginning of the term if we were going to deal with wildfires, floods and a pandemic? Nobody could have predicted any of that, right? There’s always a caveat.”
Sarai said he is planning to run again.
The first-term councillor said the first two years of the term were positive, noting the pandemic handcuffed exciting local initiatives, such as the proposed performing-arts centre, the referendum for which was cancelled.
Sarai said despite the pandemic, council kept taxes low and was prudent with money.
Coming out of the pandemic, he wants to be around for the recovery.
“There’s a lot of stuff I want to see come through and I think the COVID era really restricted our council to really shine,” he said.
Bass is also planning to run again and wants to see implementation of ideas outlined in the new North Shore Neighbourhood Plan.
She wants to see upgrades to the Ord Road/Eighth Street/Westsyde Road/Batchelor Drive intersection.
In addition, she hopes the performing-arts centre issue will be revisited in the next term.
“This term didn’t turn out to be what any of us thought it was going to be,” Bass said.
“I remember just a couple months into the term, talking to [City of Kamloops culture manager] Barb Berger. She said, ‘Oh, we’re going to get so many great things done in the next four years,’” Bass recounted.
“Then, let me think, a jet dropped out of the sky into Brock, a school burned down, a pandemic hit, the economy started to tank here, tourism died and now this month we have the discovery of all the bodies over on the reservation. Every time we start to get something going, another unexpected thing happens.”
O’Reilly said at this point, he has not thought about whether he will run in the next municipal election
“It’s really been unprecedented things that have been happening,” he said. “I haven’t even had time to think of it.”
Meanwhile, the rumoured mayoral hopefuls on council are positioning themselves as the voice of reason and the voice of the people.
Dudy, a farmer by trade, said he believes he is of value on council for his reasoned approach to decision.
Singh, the longest tenured city councillor whose resume includes provincial and federal boards, stressed the importance of working in collaboration with the community.