During his four years as Penticton’s mayor, hardly a week — and sometimes even a day — went by when Andrew Jakubeit wasn’t in the news. Then, after chairing one final council meeting following his defeat in the October 2018 election, he was gone.
In the seven months since, Jakubeit has kept a low profile and refocused on his family businesses: Groove V Productions and The Grooveyard record store.
“In the mayor’s chair, I really didn’t have time to focus on it because my schedule was so erratic,” he said.
“It’s not Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. It’s 24-7, and that’s quite taxing on a person, so to sort of be free of that is enlightening in some respects.”
With his suddenly flexible schedule this past winter, Groove V produced and live-streamed 400-plus games for Hockey TV, including every Penticton Vees home date and the bulk of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s contests in B.C. The company also did some corporate work and one-off events in the city.
Still, the adjustment back to private life hasn’t always been easy.
“Pouring 10 years into the community on council and having that come to an end — and an end not by your choice — that’s hard,” said Jakubeit.
“When you look at a relationship and you break up with the other party, life goes on quite quickly and easily. When the other party breaks up with you unexpectedly, it takes a while to get over it.
“And there are still times where I kind of wake up and scratch my head like, ‘I can’t believe this happened. What went wrong?’”
Since leaving office, Jakubeit hasn’t watched or attended a single council meeting. The first time he even delved into a council agenda package was in May to find out more about the possible return of Ironman to Penticton.
He’s reluctant, however, to critique the current group in office.
“My only comment or concern about council is having only one member under 60 isn’t an accurate representation of what our community is comprised of,” said Jakubeit.
“But, having said that, we all want our community to prosper and be the best it can be, and everyone’s working hard to do that.”
Jakubeit is pleased with the engagement process and the staff he helped install at City Hall, and is confident both pieces are serving the community well. There are times, though, that it’s hard for him to be out of the loop.
“I do miss being in that inner circle, so to speak. Having said that, I’d been there for 10 years, and, especially as the mayor, you lose your identity. You walk into a room and you’re not Andrew. You’re Mayor Andrew. So to regain part of your identity and get part of your life back, I enjoy that,” he said.
“I miss the people I worked with, but not the drama that comes with the job.”
Jakubeit’s family also enjoys having him out of the limelight, a conclusion driven home in May when police in Kelowna arrested a man for threatening the mayor there in an online post that said someone should “put a bullet” in him.
“I think people on social media don’t realize the impact their words have. What bothered me was people that I knew fairly well, who I was in their circle, would post negative comments about council or myself oblivious to the fact that I would see it. And it’s like, ‘Why would you post that? You wouldn’t say that to my face. Or why didn’t you just ask me to get the facts?’” said Jakubeit.
“I think people feel because you’re in public office you’re a target and that’s part of the job, and I think certainly criticism of one’s actions and words is one thing, but crossing the line into making threats or physical harm or financial harm is different and completely offside.”
Still, there’s a chance Jakubeit will run for office again in the next municipal election scheduled for October 2022.
“If I came back, I’d consider (running) as a councillor, because you can still be involved, but after the meeting you go back to your daily life and you’re not that focal point as the mayor would be,” he explained.
The decision will be based in part on how the city is doing and who else has declared at that time.
“I want to see our community move forward, and if there are no good candidates, I might consider it,” said Jakubeit.
“But if there are strong people there, I’m happy to say I put my time in and I’ll move on.”