Accountant and former Uptown Rutland Business Association president Todd Sanderson worked closely with city councillor Brian Given to establish a business improvement area in Rutland.
And now that a byelection has been called to fill the council seat left vacant when Given passed away from cancer, Sanderson is stepping up to try and fill his friend’s shoes.
“When Brian’s seat became available, we identified a need that we needed to replace that type of person in that council seat. Someone who’s business orientated, someone who’s very balanced, very community orientated, someone who has deep roots within the community,” said Sanderson.
So Sanderson worked the phones, calling a number of community-minded business people asking them if they would consider running.
And more often than not, “they’d point the question back at me,” said Sanderson.
When he spoke with his wife, she told him running for council was a natural progression of his community involvement.
“She said if you really want to make a difference in the community, this is your next step,” he said.
Sanderson resigned as president of URBA to take a run at council. He is also a past president of the Downtown Kelowna Association and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, a former Central Okanagan Development Commision board member and was the financial agent and campaign treasurer for former Liberal Kelowna-Mission MLA, Sindi Hawkins.
Sanderson emphasized that if elected he would work as part of a team with other councillors but said what he would bring to the table are his accountancy skills.
“Perhaps they could lean on me, and they could say, ‘Todd, this is what this means for us financially, what do you think?’,” he said. “And I could give them a different viewpoint. But I would just be part of the team.”
One area of concern for Sanderson is the city’s move last year to go from pay-as-you-go financing to long term debt financing for major infrastructure projects.
“This shift to long term debt financing has far reaching implications for taxpayers now and in the future,” he said.
Sanderson said Given had encouraged him to run for council in last fall’s municipal election when several veteran councillors chose not to run again, leaving four vacancies. But at the time, Sanderson felt he had too much to do with URBA so chose not to run.
“When Brian passed away I almost felt I let him down that I didn’t run last time,” he said. “It did weigh heavy on my mind.”
And while Sanderson said he would not be simply a stand-in for Given’s views, he would like to try and bring “that balanced viewpoint that Brian did bring. Not go in and be just pro-business, not just be pro-right wing, not pro-anything.”
“I want to come in and be as balanced as I can.”
The by-election will be held Nov. 28. Nomination packages are currently available at city hall and nomination papers can be filed between Oct 13. and Oct. 23 at 4 p.m.