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Municipal Elections 2014  

Somer: Fiscally focused platform

A Kelowna council hopeful said he wants to give back to the public by bringing fiscal responsibility to Kelowna if elected.

Deker Somer is the former vice president and director of finance of the BC Grape Growers Board. This is his first attempt at politics.

Somer says his platform is "to offer my life experience, ability to get the facts, and do the math through a Housing First lens." He says Kelowna residents already pay too much for housing and that is bound to increase in the future. 

"The City of Kelowna has a guideline that no more than 30 per cent of income should be spent on shelter. Many families exceed twice this amount and when, not if, interest rates increase, this may pose a serious problem for the city," he said in a release.

Homelessness and mental health are also issues Somer wants to tackle.

Citing a study done by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Somer says that every dollar invested in stable housing is returned two-fold in the form of lower costs to society. 

"This return on investment is tangible and sustainable going forward. On a pure cold business decision, not investing would be the question!" he said.

Somer also sees low-hanging fruit in the structure of city staffing.

"The operational need to have 256 managers earning more than $75,000 and only 92 employees should receive the value for money test," he said.

No friend of a tax-freeze, Somer says he thinks people don't understand that the provincial and federal government have been giving up tax dollars to municipalities over the past several years. To then freeze those taxes would handcuff Kelowna's ability to invest in itself in the future.

"New joint projects and initiatives are often funded this way. This has not been explained very well in the past." 

On another note, Somer envisions Kelowna and BC as a place where residents and tourists should be allowed to enjoy a beer or a glass of wine on the beach or at the park. 

"We have a world class wine industry yet we give tourists a huge fine when they enjoy a glass of our finest in one of our parks with a family picnic," he said. "All other world class wine regions allow this. Council should work with the Government of BC and get this fixed promptly. We should be offering a warm welcome."

Somer has also volunteered with the Crisis Line and the Community Policing section of the Kelowna RCMP.

"Working for the citizens of Kelowna would be the natural extension of this service to community," he said. "Please vote for the candidates of your choice. Let’s do better than a 33% turnout!"

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