1. Please tell us about a team project that illustrates your leadership skills. What skills do you think make you well suited for a role ...

2014 Kelowna Election - Take your time to know more about the Councillor Candidates: Charlie Hodge


1. Please tell us about a team project that illustrates your leadership skills. What skills do you think make you well suited for a role on City Council? 

What specifics can you cite that show your ability to exercise good judgment to solve problems?
I was a newspaper editor/assistant editor for a decade and regularly made key editorial decisions under constant deadline pressures, in addition to leading and managing a newsroom of reporters and photographers.

I am a skilled, trained listener and interviewer, understanding not only how to gather information but also how to quickly dissect through a plethora of data to find the key components and details of importance.

2. What has been your experience in working with conflicting, delayed or ambiguous information? Please describe how you dealt with it.

The scenario I am most proud of is spearheading Council’s decision to defeat the CD-21 project.
While on Council from 2008-2011 we sometimes received conflicting, delayed, or ambiguous information from senior staff, staff, developers, project coordinators, and occasionally residents or businesses. 

However, I always researched and asked questions until I had enough vital data to make an informed decision. 

A classic example was the CD-21 – the proposal to build several high-rises downtown all along Abbott/Water Street, blocking much of the view of our gorgeous waterfront. 

After a ridiculously lengthy delay in being able to do any research (largely due to waiting for a ruling by the Ministry of Transportation and Highways), council members were finally allowed to gather new information regarding the proposal. During research I talked to numerous business and property owners in the affected area who were either opposed or had not been properly informed about the plan. 

I eventually convinced enough Council members the City needed to embrace an overall, overarching downtown plan first - and not a plan that simply helped the bottom two blocks.

Defeating the CD-21 ultimately led to another key project which I encouraged – the widening and revitalization of Bernard Avenue.

3. Please describe a project you were involved with in which everything and everyone seemed to lose sight of the central purpose. What was your involvement and how did you contribute to the eventual outcome?

Years ago while a strategic planner and consultant in the environmental world, I was invited to Ottawa to participate in drafting Canada’s first Environmental Protection Act. It was a large gathering of ‘stakeholders‘ including government, NGO’s, industry and environmentalists trying to reach consensus on issues within the new act. It was pretty intense. Aside from crafting the act part of my role was to help as a panel moderator and conflict resolution worker between the various environmental groups gathered. There were numerous organizations involved from totally radical to environmental-lawyers, all with their own agendas and egos. 

After days of endless discussions and negotiations some grew impatient and wanted to hold a protest, including Greenpeace. My job was defuse the situation, remind everyone of the big picture, and insure we stay focused in order to have an impact now that we were finally at the decision making table. 

Things became very heated; however I kept the majority of other groups focused on creating the Act. Greenpeace respectively (but begrudgingly) stepped down and no protests were held. The Act still needs a lot of work but I am proud of being a part of it.

4. Please list your top three elections issues and comment on what you hope to be able to achieve on each issue in the upcoming council term:

My three issues revolve around transparency and accountability at City Hall, providing experience - especially with intergovernmental issues, and encouraging business and clean technology growth.

1) Transparency and accountability at City Hall begins with Council taking back the leadership in decision making - and even more so in the decision making process. Council must set Kelowna’s basic destination - and senior staff then advise the best routes to take. That is not currently happening. I do not believe Council is running the ship and have not for a long while. The recent debacle at Cedar Park is an example.

2) Experience: The next few years will see a needed increase in vital discussions with municipalities and governance bodies such as West Kelowna, Westbank First Nations, Lake Country... not to mention dealings with the Provincial and Federal governments. With six years Council and five years on Regional District I have lots of inter-governmental experience on various levels, and enjoy it.

3) Encouraging business and clean light technology in our town is a no brainer and a must do. There are several components that can be utilized towards this goal including: business incentives, zoning, reductions in red tape and bureaucracy, resolving parking and transportation issues impacting business, etc. We need to complete an effective downtown plan; however we must also focus on assisting other business hubs and shopping areas especially in South Pandosy and Rutland. These areas are long overdue for appropriate attention.

I believe a key component in both our business and sustainable community’s future goals is the involvement of UBCO and Okanagan College. We must continue to create clean, effective transit from those two learning locations to Rutland, Glenmore, and the downtown area where students can find affordable housing options and social life opportunities. Like Ann Arbor, Michigan does successfully - augmenting our tourist season in the summer with an influx of students in the shoulder seasons makes total sense.

5. More about you: Please take a minute to provide some basic information about yourself.

( a ) How long have you lived in Kelowna?

I was born in Penticton moved to Kelowna at age 7 back in 1962. I have spent the majority of my adult working life here.

( b ) Education:

I went to elementary school here and graduated from Kelowna Senior Secondary. I then went immediately into journalism where I spent the majority of the next 30 years.

( c ) Jobs held in past ten years and duration of each:

I am a professional writer. The past year has been spent writing a contracted novel, a historical-fiction book based in the Kootenays. (When that is done in the spring I will complete a second contracted book). Prior to starting the historical-fiction novel I ran my own communications, public relations, strategic planning company for nearly 20 years. I still write a regular newspaper and online columns.

I also recently spent a year as public relations and marketing rep for Virtual British Columbia Tours based in Kelowna, which I found fascinating and enjoyable.

Also I was a Kelowna City Councillor from 2008-2011 and a Director on the Central Okanagan Regional District from 2009-2011.

( d ) Community groups or initiatives you have served on:

A huge number over the years, far too many to list here but some are listed on my website charliehodge.ca and some in my brochure. I have been involved in community or advocacy organizations all my life, including currently sitting on the board of KSAN and recently a Director with Pathways Abilities Society. 

I have been the guest speaker or MC for numerous fundraiser events and involved in several organizations such as Chambers of Commerce, Regatta and Snowfest Boards, tourism associations, environmental organizations, minor hockey coach, Big Brothers... And on Nov. 7 I host my 10th annual Night of the Arts awareness/fundraiser for the homeless and youth at risk.

( e ) Have you previously held elected office?

Yes, twice on City Councils and twice as Director on Regional Districts.
Kelowna City Council 2008-2011, Parksville City Council 1997-2000
Central Okanagan Regional District 2009-2011 and Regional District of Nanaimo 1997-2000.

( f ) Why have you chosen to run for council at this time?

I love Kelowna, I love being on Council, and I believe I do a good job representing the people.
I believe I can once again offer Kelowna residents experience and a voice of reason. I listen to people and have always been approachable and available. My attendance track record at council was exceptional and my preparation thorough. 

As a fulltime author I have the flexible hours and lifestyle to properly serve the public, attend meetings, and remain accessible.

6. Anything else? Is there anything else you would like Kelowna voters to know about you that will give them confidence you would make an excellent addition to the upcoming council?

I was unfairly and misleadingly labelled by 4Change in the previous election as anti-business and development, and chastised for asking too many questions. What a pile of BS.

The council of 2008-2011 was put into place just as the economics around the world went in the tank. Any plummet in local business and economy was due to that and not the council of the day. To my recollection the only business related issues we turned down was the CD-21 which was the right decision and I am proud of, and a decision by council (which I did not support) to shut down a landscaping business on Benvoulin due to a zoning conflict issue.

I am not anti-development, but I am anti-stupid development.

When I asked questions on projects I did so because staff or the proponent of a project had not provided the important information I felt I needed before making an informed decision. I will never be pushed or hurried to make a bad decision, especially one that impacts the future of my City.
Give me the facts I will give you a decision.

The public elects me to ask questions, not simply bob my head like a puppet and go with the flow. I am an independent thinker and problem solver, capable of working in a team setting but not influenced by the pressures of others.

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