UPDATE 2:50 p.m.
Penticton entrepreneur Jason Cox confirmed a pretty poorly kept secret Thursday; that he’ll be seeking the mayor's chair in October’s municipal election.
Backed by supporters from the local business community, Cox made the announcement at Time Winery — leading with public safety and crime as the top issue facing the city.
“We need to take our city back from the drug users and petty criminals who have drastically changed our town,” he said, drawing applause.
Cox said the city needs to hold police accountable for the tax dollars spent with them and determine what gaps need to be filled.
He said the mayor should be able to network with other mayors facing similar issues and “sit of the corner of the desk of the Attorney General of B.C. and make sure that prosecutions actually lead to meaningful convictions.”
Cox attacked the city’s policies on economic development, particularly economic incentive zones, calling them outdated.
“Vacation rentals in many cases are not an indication of greed, but rather necessity,” he said in a part of his speech dedicated to housing affordability.
“People who are renting spare rooms in their house are not doing it because they like to meet people, they are doing it because that's how they are affording their mortgage or rent.”
Cox comes into the race as an outsider, without experience on city council.
After the event, he told reporters his previous work as president of the local chamber and other roles have largely been about “advocacy and promoting the community.”
“And that is one of the lead roles of being mayor,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to get elected as a councillor and then start doing the job of a mayor and undermine whoever is mayor.”
Cox also took questions from reporters about his support for the ill-fated Skaha Lake water slide development, a position he took as president of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce.
He says he stands by the position, but laid the blame at the feet of city staff and council for botching community outreach.
“The miscommunication and the level of angst that grew out of the community, wasn’t even, I don’t think, about how many trees or blades of grass would be affected, I believe that it was about the politicians in the chair didn’t properly listen to people or explain what was actually going on.”
“They sat in chambers on the second floor, while people rallied in the street,” he added.
While positioning himself as a candidate for change, Cox says his campaign will be a little more focused, "people can get elected talking about change, without actually knowing what the change is they are there to present."
Incumbent mayor Andrew Jakubeit is the only other person to so far declare candidacy in the mayor's race.
ORIGINAL 12:30 p.m.
Local business owner Jason Cox has confirmed his plan to run for mayor in Penticton in the municipal election this fall.
He made the announcement to media and supporters at Time Winery early Thursday afternoon, two days after confirming his candidacy.
Cox owns the People's Soda Company on Martin Street. He was previously a business banker for Valley First and RBC. He's also a past president of the Penticton Chamber of Commerce and served on the board of director for six years.
An Okanagan resident for more than 25 years, Cox previously ran for city council in Penticton in 2011 and earned 2,967 votes — missing a seat on council by 249 votes.
More to come.
- Colton Davies