The upcoming municipal by-election has its first official candidate.
Jon McWhirter, born and raised in Cranbrook, has decided to step forward and run for a city council seat that was vacated by Tom Shypitka, who resigned over the summer to focus on his duties as Kootenay East MLA.
McWhirter, 41, has contemplated a run for city council over the last four electoral cycles, however, he said the timing was never right.
“I think working with the community through city council is a great way to give back,” McWhirter said. “It’s already given me a ton. I’ve considered it for many elections, but this is the right time in my life where I have the space and capacity to invest.”
McWhirter has lived and worked in the community in the service industry and as a small business owner. He also recently completed his degree in management and is working for a local small business.
“Over the last 20 years I’ve managed a couple of businesses in town,” McWhirter said. “I’ve owned a couple businesses, one was successful and one was not, so I’ve learned a lot through those. I recently completed my Bachelor of Management and I feel through the practical experience and the educational side, I’m able to bring a balanced approach to the issues.”
McWhirter singles out the College of the Rockies and the East Kootenay Regional Hospital as community assets, and said that it’s important to figure out ways for college grads to stay and work in the city after they graduate.
“For the last 20 years or more, [the population] been stagnant around that 18,000, 19,000, 20,000 number and I think there’s a great opportunity for growth in Cranbrook,” McWhirter said. “As the college and hospital continue to grow, you’d hope that grads from the college would stay in Cranbrook. Anything council can do to make it more appealing for industry to provide jobs that support families rather than just minimum wage or part time jobs would be huge, for me.
“That’d be the primary focus. I think secondary would be continuing to make Cranbrook a better place to live, a better place where people can meet and spend time with each other, whether that’s in the community garden or through cultural events or hockey games.”
The municipal by-election is set for Saturday, Oct. 21, with advance polling on Wednesday, Oct. 11 and Oct. 18. Voting locations has yet to be determined by the city.