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Vassilaki running for mayor

Penticton Councillor John Vassilaki announced Thursday that he plans to run for mayor in the upcoming election.

The longtime city resident and councillor provided the information to a crowd of around 70 people gathered in front of city hall.

"I want to put my experience as a 12 year councillor, a 50 year businessman and a leader second to none who is not afraid to speak out on your behalf to be your new mayor," he said.

One of the primary reasons for his decision is he believes the current situation at city hall is not working very well for anyone and has to change.

"We have lawsuits for example, the Eckhardt Avenue properties, the loss to the PHA and incorrect tax notices," he said. "These are costing our taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and no one is being held accountable for these mistakes. This has to stop and it has to stop now."

In addition, he is concerned about the independence of committees being taken away, for example the fiscal review board and the SOEC board.

His goals are to stand up for Penticton whether at the council table, at the RDOS or with residents one on one.

He further has a five point plan on how to make changes at city hall, make it more transparent and more accountable.

"I think we all want a city hall that listens, councillors that are independently minded and empowered, that work hard to keep taxes and electrical rates low and to keep our streets and parks safe and clean," he said. "I am going to take the politics out of politics."

Most importantly, he concluded, is the power has to come back to city council, rather than in the hands of non-elected officials.

Vassilaki was peppered with questions from the media and members of the public following the announcement, among them if he was unhappy with current Mayor Garry Litke.

His response was that Litke is still his friend and that he was unhappy with what is happening at city hall, not with any one individual.

Litke's response to the announcement was that he was a little disappointed that someone would announce a candidacy based on negative experiences and experiences in which he, Vassilaki, played a role.

"I would hope to see a mayor who has some vision for the city of Penticton," he said. "But what I heard appeared to be a power struggle, taking more power away from city staff and giving it to council, that seemed to be his platform."

Vassilaki will be opening his campaign office at 575 Main Street, when regulations permit.

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