Close to winning four years ago, Victor Cumming hopes to land the mayor’s job in Vernon this time around.
Cumming, 63, an economist and volunteer, finished second to Akbal Mund by only 625 votes in the 2014 municipal election. He has announced he is again throwing his hat into the ring for the Oct. 20 vote.
“It’s my passion for working on integrated community development, that’s my profession, that’s my practice and I want to focus on my own region and community,” said Cumming on his decision to seek election.
“Many others strongly encouraged me to run again, based on what they see as my demonstrated skill set. It’s about doing locally what I’ve done regionally, provincially and across Canada.”
Born in Golden and raised in Naramata, Cumming holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics and geography, and a master of arts in rural planning and development. He has taught economic development for Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, and his consulting firm provides economic development, planning and operation assistance to local, regional and First Nations governments across Canada.
In 2014, Cumming’s platform talked about how Vernon’s diverse economy is a positive and how he wants to come up with new approaches to address the infrastructure deficit in Vernon.
“This time, I’m more focused on attainable housing,” he said. “It’s a really critical issue. If you’re in the top 40 per cent, housing isn’t an issue. If you’re in the bottom 60 per cent, yeh, it’s an issue. Safety is another big issue, I don’t need to say much more than that. It’s been on the front pages. Community safety is an issue that has really accelerated in the last three or four years.
“Business and economic development continue to be really significant and will be in the next three years, particularly with a dramatically changing international environment. Infrastructure continues to be key. The city is putting significant efforts into restoring old infrastructure and there’s infrastructure that needs to be fixed that’s not operating well.”
Cumming said he was an unknown entity in the 2014 race but still finished second behind a more well-known candidate in Mund. Being so close then, along with plenty of encouragement now, convinced Cumming to take another crack at the mayor’s chair.
“Four years ago, if I’d been way back it would have been an indicator to let this idea go,” said Cumming. “I was a new face when I ran four years ago. I came from relatively unknown to doing well with someone like Akbal who is extremely well known.”
Candidates for mayor and council will again be running for four-year terms in the October vote. Cumming said that’s not a problem for him.
“I’m now 63, at the end of my career, and this would signal a shift,” he said. “It’s the right time for me. Doing the mayor thing is a full-time job, I recognize that and will give it that respect.”
Mund has not publicly declared if he plans to seek re-election in October. Former Mayor Wayne Lippert and painter Art Gourley have declared their intentions to run for mayor.