Vassilaki city's new mayor

Colton Davies

UPDATE: 9:30 p.m.

The mayor's vote in Penticton was expected to be a three-horse race, but it was 72-year-old John Vassilaki who ran away on the ballot.

With 5,144 votes, Vassilaki essentially doubled Jason Cox (2,621) and incumbent Andrew Jakubeit (2,564). 

Vassilaki served four terms on city council from 2002 to 2014, before losing to Jakubeit in the mayor's race by more than 2,100 votes in the 2014 municipal election.

He said he learned from perceived mistakes in his previous mayoral campaign, which he said was more focused on what he'd done in the past instead of what he plans to do moving forward. 

"People wanted to be not only involved but be informed as to what each mayoral candidate had to say and what they were gunna do for the community. And whether they really meant from the heart what they were saying... I think that's what did it for me this time around."

Vassilaki owns Tiffany's Boutique Mall on Main Street and said he's been working eight-to-10-hour days up until now, but said he's going to make his new mayor's role his full time job.

"I'm not gunna go to city hall one or two three days a week for a couple of hours a day, I'm gunna be there most of the day and I'll return every phone call."

Jakubeit served six years on city council before serving the past four as mayor. He was disappointed, and talked about the Skaha Park waterslide debacle from early in his mayor term — something he has repeatedly admitted regret to.

"I think a lot of people were hung up... That sort of was the achilles heel and really probably hurt things. And unfortunately, the mayor's a lightning rod and everyone focuses on the mayor as if it was his idea or his plan, when it's really all of council. But that's politics," Jakubeit said.

"I can look back and be proud of some the things we accomplished in the past 10 years... And I'm proud of that. And the irony of that is the next council's success is probably going to be on a lot of the policies and procedures and engagement that we've instituted this term.

"If Jason wasn't there or I wasn't there, would this have been a different race? But the people who voted, they've spoken."

Past Vassilaki, Penticton voters also stuck to experience among the councillors who were elected — whether that be in municipal experience or community experience.

Voted in was former city mayor Jake Kimberley (4,909 votes), incumbent Campbell Watt (4,566), former school district staffer Frank Regehr (4,386), longtime realtor Julius Bloomfield (3,449), previous councillor Katie Robinson (3,101) and incumbent Judy Sentes (2,772).

Among the council newcomers, Kimberley — the oldest member on council at 80 — was a Penticton councillor from 1986 to 1990 and mayor from 1990 to 1996 and 2005 to 2008. Regehr was SD 67's top financial manager for 22 years. Bloomfield, meanwhile, a Naramata resident and realtor of 26 years, ran for mayor in Penticton in 2011 and finished second, 146 votes behind Dan Ashton. Robinson served on council from 1990 to 1999 and again in 2013 and 2014.

Watt and Sentes are the only two incumbents at the council table, Watt entering his second term on council and, for Sentes, her fourth. The third incumbent who was seeking re-election, Max Picton, was defeated, finishing more than 400 votes back of a council seat. Picton was the highest vote-getter among Penticton council candidates in 2014, with 4,251 votes.

The four school trustees elected were incumbent Shelley Clarke (4,599 votes), Tracy Van Raes (4,156), incumbent Barbara Shepherd (3,762) and James Palanio (3,503).

ORIGINAL: 8:45 p.m.

John Vassilaki has been elected mayor of Penticton.

The prominent businessman and former councillor edged out incumbent Andrew Jakubeit and four other challenges.

He will be joined by Julius Bloomfield, Jake Kimberly, Frank Regehr, Katie Robinson, Judy Sentes and Campbell Watt around the council table.

More to come...

- Colin Dacre

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