Vernon now has three people running for mayor this fall.
Erik Olesen is the latest, joining Victor Cumming and Darrin Taylor.
Olsen is a 26 year old who operates Mac’s convenience stores in Vernon and Salmon Arm.
He was the NDP candidate for last year’s provincial election in the riding of Kelowna Lake Country, and was recently chosen as the new president of the North Okanagan- Shuswap NDP federal riding association.
“The decision to take a run for Mayor of Vernon doesn’t come without carefully looking at all aspects of what that means to lead a city and understanding the dedication needed to be successful,” says Olesen in a news release. “It also needs to be supported and I am happy to say that no matter who I talk to the idea of a younger candidate entering the race has peeked interest in the community. I have also been encouraged and supported by many already in the community to run for Mayor based on the drive, passion and leadership ability I can bring forward.”
Olesen says his career in management for the last 10 years and now as an operator of 2- 24hr convenience stores has him daily dealing with multiple issues that residents are talking about.
“I am extremely proud to say that Vernon is in need of much needed change this coming municipal election and that change needs to start with the Mayor.
“I have had the ability to watch, like many others, issues in Vernon progressively become uncontrolled. My campaign team understands the focus I am going to be tackling this election and ways we are going to get those messages across to the residents of Vernon.”
Olsen says the city is ultimately dealing with 3 major issues that residents want immediate results for; the homeless situation, the drug addiction situation and housing affordability.
“These 3 issues can only be tackled by putting yourself into the current situation which I have done. Apart from my business dealing with these issues daily I have spent time over the past few months touring Turning Points buildings and seeing first hand the situation we are facing.”
Olsen says he understands the frustration from business owners and the strain it puts on being successful.
“I also understand that the issues are hitting every part of our city so we need to have a proactive approach to building solutions and that needs to be inclusive of all in those decisions; residents, business owners, leaders working directly with the most vulnerable, interior health, Turning Points, Upper Room Mission and pushing the provincial/federal leaders in our community to work at securing funding for our community.”
Olsen, who is a Vernon resident, also wants to focus on continued improvement of infrastructure to create an appealing city that encourages economic growth, work on recreation in the city and most importantly have the ability to work all of these ideas into a budget that does not create a huge download to the taxpayers.
Olsen says he’s spent the better part of the last 10 years being involved in politics through running for MLA in 2017 or running for City Council at the age of 18 in Ottawa.
“I have also been part of 7 campaigns where I found myself in roles that worked directly with candidates seeking municipal, provincial and federal seats. I am also a very active member of the community and always looking for ways to give back.”
Olsen says his young age should not be considered a negative.
“My goal during this campaign is to show the residents of Vernon that they can put their trust into someone who has their best interests at mind, who is knowledgeable in issues facing the city, who is devoted to feet on the ground rather than behind a closed door, who is willing to work as a team with City staff and councillors to move the city into the future.”