Coun. Ken Popove pledged to make sure the community “keeps moving forward together,” as the first candidate in Chilliwack to declare his intention to run for the mayor’s seat in the 2018 Municipal Elections.
Listening carefully, using out-of-the-box thinking, and uniting the community in collaboration, were the overarching themes at his election campaign launch Wednesday morning.
Popove has been on council since 2011, was re-elected in 2014, and has been front and centre with the housing crisis in Chilliwack.
“We’re at a crossroads in Chilliwack,” Popove told the crowd gathered outside his business. “We are facing big city problems in public safety, in homelessness, in affordability, and in the tragedy of the opioid crisis.”
He vowed to work closer with area First Nations, as well as provincial and federal governments.
Maintaining “great community services, low taxes, and an unbeatable quality of life” are part of his platform if elected mayor.
He was joined at the launch by supporters like Kathy Funk, former BIA head, Coun. Jason Lum, and former Mayor Clint Hames.
“Ken is passionate about Chilliwack, passionate about business, and passionate about the downtown,” said Funk, who worked alongside him on the BIA, adding that he’s both practical and a “man of purpose.”
“Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be talking to folks about what’s important to them, and about their ideas for Chilliwack. It’s what I’ve always done as a councillor and what I will do as mayor,” Popove said.
Clint Hames said in the time he’s known Popove, they’ve discussed the challenges for the community of not dealing with homelessness, mental health, and poverty.
“He’s one of the few people that really has the vision, the understanding and the leadership qualities that are actually going to take that issue and move it forward,” said Hames. “He’s been doing a great job with that.”
Completing his second term on council, Coun. Popove has been busy on a number of files, like co-chairing the RBC Host Cup Committee.
He’s also been co-chairing the Chilliwack Healthier Community network of more than 40 health/ social service providers, which he described as the “most satisfying experience” of his public life so far.
Coun. Jason Lum, who said he has known Popove for 10 years, spoke about his character, and his tendency to thoughtfully consider the issues, and bring diverse groups together around a table.
“He’s the type of guy, while not the most polished public speaker, or a politician’s politician,” Lum said. “But he’s the type of guy who is willing to rolls his sleeves up, put his head down, and do the work.”
Popove is owner of Ken’s Tire & Wheel which he operates in downtown Chilliwack on Alexander Avenue. He opened the shop 24 years ago with two employees, and now has a staff that is five times that size.
As a business owner he devoted 11 years to working with members of the DT Chilliwack Business improvement Association (BIA), six of which as president. He’s been a huge supporter of community events, and was involved in the creation of Party in the Park, the Village Classic Car Show, Christmas Parade, and the now defunct Christmas Village.
The city councillor moved from Mission to Chilliwack at the age of 12, and has been passionate about his city ever since.
Popove helped create the Cultus Lake Beach Party in the 1980s, which in its final year raised tens of thousands of dollars to build a children’s park at Main Beach and sat on the Cultus Lake Park Board as commissioner for one term.
Popove said he is happily married to Gail and is the proud father of a daughter, a stepson, and a stepdaughter.
To date he is the only candidate to come forward for mayor.
In terms of council declarations so far Coun. Sue Attrill has said she will stand for re-election this fall, but Coun. Chuck Stam said he will not run, and is pursuing other opportunities.
Former Rotary president Debora Soutar is running for council.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz said last fall she was leaning toward running again, but has not decided yet.