Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – Nov 2nd, 2018

I’m back. In multiple ways.

Sort of like a bad cold – I never really go away. Just when you think I am gone I show up again. (And again and again and…)

This is a special rebound time because not only have I returned from the political scrap pile, and column censorship, but also the one-year anniversary of my brief walk on the other side. (More on that next week).

Best of all, as an extra super duper bonus, I’m holding a huge bucket of excess Halloween chocolate left over that I must now eat. It is a tough task but I must commit to it since Tez is diabetic.

First and foremost a sincere and hearty thank you to those who actually made the effort to vote and/or take part in the municipal elections across our province. While I am still disappointed at the pathetic turnout of residents who actually did vote I am personally thrilled that enough of you turned out to help support me. There is nothing glib in saying I could not have won without you.

Later this month we will rush out the door to honour war veterans on Remembrance Day, however the best way to really show that appreciation was to exercise your right to vote. The very thing so many men and women died fighting for.

I will admit to being pleased with not just eking my way in this time. Finishing sixth makes me feel a tad more desired than my barely sliding in at number eight.

This campaign I actually collected a small committee together led by wife and best friend Tez and lifelong friend Irma as coordinator. Fred, Deb, David, Danny, Peter, Pat, Curtis, Jim, Lloyd, Rich Paulo, Louise, Hotsands, Rich, Bernie, Bettina and others look after signs, finances, delivery of flyers…I am sincerely humbled by their support in me – and your support as voters.

I admit to mixed emotions heading into this political spat. Part of me was relieved that Tracy Gray had stepped out of running for re-election as that opened up one spot for any potential newcomers. As the regular lone wolf of council (not in a bad way) I saw my job as boat rocker perhaps in jeopardy. The opening provided me with potential breathing room. However that meant losing Gray.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about Tracy since she deserves every one of them. Bright, focussed, articulate and savvy – not much gets past her. Never a second time. Kelowna has lost one of the brightest lights at Council in a long time and most residents will never know that.

Loyal Wooldridge, on the other hand, seems ready to fill Tracy’s shoes. I already enjoy his quick wit and strong analytical ability. I was not shocked by any of the actual results with Lalli, James, and Lovegrove finishing high. All would have been a great fit on council though I admit a particular twinge in the heart for my pal Graeme James not making the cut.

I drew an analogy last election to a municipal campaign being like a hockey training camp – you fight like crazy, work hard and sometimes things even get testy and nasty as you fight for that last job. However, when the camp is over to be successful the players selected by the voters to form the club have to learn to work together to win. Bad blood must be left in the corner to be truly effective and serve the best wishes of the public. The captain has been named and the eight councillors are all equally on the bench.

Four years ago I admit to not looking forward to my first meeting with Mayor elect Basran since I had openly supported Sharon Shepherd. Indeed it was a tad rocky. Regardless, Colin and I leaned on the hockey analogy for the first few weeks and eventually were good together. Today Colin and I are good friends, have a strong respect and a well earned trust for each other – something I am very proud of. Unless my radar is badly damaged, starting off strong and adding Loyal to the mix should bode well for Kelowna.

The Tom and Colin show was nasty. Nastier than many will ever know and an event many of us will be pleased to forget. Some lines cannot be re-crossed, forgotten, or glossed over.

Around the Valley things were, umm, interesting if nothing else. Wayne Carson managed to maintain his seat on regional district in area c however was thumped in his effort to win a Kelowna Council seat. Wayne was clearly trying to make a statement however no one else seem to know what that statement was.

Mayor Cindy Thorton assumes the persona of a rabbit now since her name had to be pulled from a hat in order to reclaim her comfy seat at Peachland Town Hall. When she and     Gough finished tied in votes and an official re-count found them still with identical numbers – both their names were placed in a hat and then one pulled.

I am not sure I could handle it that way.

Regardless it somehow feels like an insulting way to decided such a job, especially following an exhausting everything left on the field fight.

Also of interest were a few mayors or former mayors running for regular councillor positions such as Doug Findlater in West Kelowna. Teunis Westbroke in Qualicum Beach. It goes without saying I am tickled that my council Craig was re-elected in Coquitlam.

The changing of the election date making it a month earlier was brilliant. It was much more enjoyable and less arduous going door to door or out to events not having to battle snow or really cold weather.

Yes, life is grand in the Okanagan, and so is this basket of Kit-Kats. Hmm, perhaps this one first.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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