This is the fourth in a series on my experiences as the mayor of Kamloops from 1999 to 2005. I offer it for the interest of anyone who cares about civic politics and our community, and who might be wondering — as we approach a civic election Nov. 15 — what really goes on in City Hall. The series is archived under the City Hall category.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS — LIFE AT CITY HALL
Chapter 4 — ‘Kamloops At A Crossroads’
“Well, he’s pretty smart. He knows a lot about the community. So why not?”
— Jacob Rothenburger, 9, on his father’s candidacy for mayor, June 16, 1999.
Those words are among my most cherished memories of that first campaign. At my announcement in Calvary Temple, Jacob was approached by a TV7 reporter who stuck a microphone in front of him and, camera rolling, asked what he thought about his dad running for mayor.
It was golden stuff for the evening news. Funny part is, my campaign manager Barb Duggan had seen it coming, and spent a few minutes coaching Jacob, who had turned nine only a few days before, just in case he should be approached by reporters. But when it happened, Jacob ignored all Barb’s gems about the need for change, and his father’s qualifications, and used entirely his own words.
Going into that announcement, I was pretty nervous. Not nervous about my speech, or the announcement itself, but nervous about whether anyone would show up. I spent the previous couple of days emailing everybody I could think of to encourage them — beg, practically — to come for an announcement about the upcoming civic election. Committee members had done the same.
When we filled the hall, I was immensely relieved. As I took the podium, there in front of me were family (Jacob spent the entirety of my speech playing with an action figure), friends, supporters and media, and it energized me.
I had decided to use St. Andrews on the Square for the announcement because it had fairly recently been saved from the wrecker’s ball and restored, no thanks to some members of the incumbent council. I saw it as a symbol of renewal. (Peter Milobar used the same venue when he announced his candidacy for mayor this year.)
I’d put a lot of thought into my speech, and as I delivered it I felt every word very strongly. I was running for mayor, I said, because things needed to change at City Hall (shades of Barack Obama).
“I have a vision for Kamloops, to draw this community together, to restore this city’s leadership role in the Interior of British Columbia,” I said. Read the rest of this entry »