Council race gets 1st entrant

The race for Kelowna City Council officially kicked off Wednesday.

In front of several dozen supporters, businesswoman Tracy Gray announced her intention to run for a seat on City Council.

If the last name sounds familiar - it should. Gray is married to Mayor Walter Gray's nephew.

She said the connection is out there, but believes people will know her for her and not just the name.

"Really, I've always driven my own ship and always drummed to my own beat. More people know me for what I've done," said Gray.

Gray, 44, is the owner of Discover Wines and former General Manager of Granville Island Brewery.

She is a past recipient of the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year and a current member of the Prospera Credit Union board of directors.

She said the time was right to make the move into politics.

"I've been thinking about this a long time and everything just seems to be coming together both in my business and personally. It's just really the right time."

As for her qualifications...

"I think there's always someone who is more qualified in one area or another. Being on a lot of boards and owning your own business definitely does give you a jump start on how things operate," said Gray.

"Being fiscally responsible, managing a business, working on boards and having to work on governance is a really big issue that I think a lot of people aren't familiar with. I've had some formal training in that."

Gray pointed to three issues she believes are important for Kelowna over the next 20 years - growth, transportation and quality of life.

Part of that is her desire for fiscal responsibility, keeping both business and residential taxes low.

She believes growth, not higher taxes, can help pay for much needed infrastructure within the city.

"Kelowna is growing so every year there is more housing that is coming on board. That in itself there is more tax base that is growing because of the new residences that are being built," said Gray.

"I think we need to be fiscally responsible. It's a matter of looking at what the priorities are. A lot of the public-private partnerships are really good relationships and that's how we are able to fund a lot of the projects that are happening in town here. I think if we continue on those kinds of projects we'll be able to accomplish a lot in the city."

Gray said she has been working towards today's announcement for the last nine months and expects to spend the summer talking with constituents about the issues that face the city.

She is the first person to officially announce her intention to seek a seat on council - the first of what is expected to be a long list of hopefuls.

In 2011, a record 40 people ran for one of the eight seats on council. In 2008 that number was 36 while is 2005 it was 31.

Colin Basran has already announced he is running for mayor while Councillor Gail Given is mulling that decision over.

Veteran Robert Hobson has indicated he will likely not run again while Councillors Gerry Zimmermann, Andre Blanleil and Mohini Singh have yet to make a decision one way or another.

Voters in Kelowna will go to the polls to elect a new city council Nov 15.

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