New mayor in town

Colin Basran cheers with supporters Saturday night at the Coast Capri Hotel after being elected mayor of Kelowna.

Colin Basran says his youth was an asset and his ethnicity was irrelevant in his successful bid to become the next mayor of Kelowna.

The 37-year-old former journalist-turned-realtor became the city’s youngest mayor-elect in convincing fashion, winning about 56 per cent of all ballots cast to easily defeat former mayor Sharon Shepherd.

“I think that Kelowna, like other cities in our country, is ready to embrace the next generation of leadership,” Basran, who won 18 of the city’s 19 polling stations, told reporters at his election night headquarters at the Coast Capri Hotel.

“As far as being the first person of colour (to become mayor), it says a lot about Kelowna that we’re an inclusive city and it doesn’t matter, the colour of your skin,” he said. “I hope Kelowna voters voted for me because I was the best candidate to move our city forward.”

Basran is an Indo-Canadian who mentioned often during the campaign that his family came to the Kelowna area a century ago. He was on city council for one term before deciding to run for mayor, and his campaign drew endorsements from some high-profile members of the business and development community.

“This is an honour and a privilege that I will not wear lightly as we build upon the positive momentum and keep Kelowna moving forward,” Basran told several hundred cheering supporters.

“It’s time to tell the world about Kelowna, not just as a place of unlimited appeal for recreational and tourism opportunities, but also an extraordinary place for innovation, socially and economically,” he said.

All four incumbent councillors who were seeking re-election — Luke Stack, Maxine DeHart, Gail Given and Mohini Singh — were re-elected. Also elected from the field of 32 council candidates were Brad Sieben, Tracy Gray, Ryan Donn and Charlie Hodge.

None of the candidates from TaxpayersFirst, a new civic party which pledged a four-year municipal tax freeze, were elected.

“I’m delighted, ecstatic,” outgoing mayor Walter Gray said of the overall results. “There’s good continuity from the existing council.”

Some Basran supporters said they were impressed by his focus on trying to promote Kelowna as more of a high-tech centre.

“He’s trying to create more of a community that supports young professionals,” said Reid Schretlen, a 31-year-old video technology entrepreneur.

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