No April Foolin'

No April Foolin’

We managed to create some controversy along with our fun last weekend with many people forgetting that it was April Fool’s day. The prank with the Penticton Western News and Peach concession operator Diana Stirling involved a mock interview with me claiming (among other things) that Penticton was no longer ‘Beaches and Peaches’ but rather ‘Wine and Dine’, so the iconic Peach on the Beach would now become a grape. I did receive a few messages from those not finding my participation or comments funny, so for those who took them as genuine I do sincerely apologize.

The incident did remind me of what it is to be a community leader and the example we set for others with our words and actions.  For example, I got caught jay-walking the other day by a woman whose young son recognized me from a school visit and was quick to tell her what he just witnessed. It was a small reminder that you never know who is watching and how a role model should act.

Another time while still a councillor, I was walking the downtown market on a Saturday morning and I noticed a small crowd, so I walked over to see what was happening. There was a ceremony taking place to christen a new cenotaph and after it was over, I was called out by one of the people there for my casual attire and not attending in a suit and tie. While I was the only Councillor in attendance and just one of only 30 people that took time to show respect and honor for our veterans, the focus was on fulfilling expectations of what a Councillor should wear.

I agree that public scrutiny is part of the job and there is no “off” switch being on council. Public figures are expected to represent the community and maintain a higher standard of professionalism and decorum. It`s easy for elected officials to lose their identity because we sometimes get so concerned about being politically correct or not offending anyone that our message and actions become very corporate or non-committal . It is refreshing when a politician speaks candidly, but you can’t always do that when dealing with the public and protecting the interests of the City. Society sometimes places unrealistic expectations on elected officials; because we can’t be all things to all people.

Last weekend was a big hockey weekend in the City. Before going to game two of the Vee’s playoff game, I welcomed  special needs players, coaches, and their friends and family to the Peach City Special Needs Hockey Tournament at the SOEC. I was told an inspirational story that just before the  local Upper Deck Vee’s took to the ice for their first game, an audio clip of Vee’s coach Fred Harbinson’s pre-game pep talk to his team was played. In the clip, Harbinson spoke about the pride his players should have to be wearing the jersey and be representing their community, as well as the loyal fans who believe in each and every one of them. The Upper Deck Vee’s coach didn’t have to add a word as the audio clip had clearly inspired his team give it their best. When news of the audio file pep talk made its way back to Harbinson, he showed where his heart is by walking into the Upper Deck Vee’s dressing room as that same audio clip was being played before their next game and finished the speech in-person.

That little gesture made the kid’s year and is a shining example of how community leaders can positively impact others around them. It is an example of what makes Penticton so great, it is our people, their character, and their pride in our community and each other.