City of Penticton mayoral candidates (from left to right) John Vassilaki, Jason Cox and Andrew Jakubeit waiting for results at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Mark Brett/Western News

Penticton’s mayor-elect already under scrutiny

When does a handshake become campaigning?

Update: Oct. 26, 5 p.m.

We made a mistake in the election penalties listed in this article. They are, in fact, the maximum penalties for an elections offence — which Penticton’s elections officer also mistakenly quoted and directed us to — rather than the lower penalties for canvassing at the polls. Reading lower in the section of the Local Government act, the possible offence in this case, would be canvassing or soliciting votes or otherwise attempting to influence how an elector votes, which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not longer than one year.

“It’s unfortunate that during election periods that people will often report innocent actions as offences,” said Peter Weeber, Penticton’s chief administrative officer. “I am confident the investigation will find there is no issue.”

Weeber also praised Laurie Darcus’ organization of the election, saying it was one of the best-run he has seen.


A bit of glad-handing at the Oct. 18 advance poll has people in Penticton discussing whether Mayor-elect John Vassilaki was indulging in some improper campaigning.

Related: John Vassilaki takes Penticton mayor’s chair

According to a post on Facebook, Vassilaki was observed coming out of the polling station at the Seniors’ Drop-in Centre and shaking hands with people in the lineup waiting to cast their votes.

“Under the community charter, it’s considered an election offence to be campaigning within 100 metres of a polling station,” said Laurie Darcus, Penticton’s elections officer, adding that such complaints are handled by the local RCMP.

Vassilaki said he, his wife and his mother, who recently broke her leg, were all there to vote.

“She’s a very slow walker. I couldn’t walk out of there any faster than my mom could,” said Vassilaki. “As we walked along, people were offering their hands, congratulations for running and I shook their hands.

“I never made any comments to anyone other than to thank them. Nothing else took place other than that.”

The Penticton RCMP acknowledge they are investigating an elections offence, but did not say which of the candidates they are looking into.

“The Penticton RCMP are currently investigating an offence under the Local Government Act, allegedly having been committed by a candidate. No further information is being released at this time,” said Const. James Grandy in an email response to the Western News.

“In my past experience, what happens is the RCMP take the case, collect the evidence and then present that to Crown counsel, who will determine whether they press charges or not,” said Darcus, adding that even if the complaint was made to ElectionsBC, it would typically be passed back to the local jurisdiction.

Section 166 of the Local Government Act sets out three possible penalties if a candidate is found guilty and convicted of an offence: a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to two years and disqualification from holding office for up to seven years (or a combination of the three).

“People stretched out their hand to shake it and I offered mine back. That’s as far as it went,” said Vassilaki.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Just Posted

Province proposes Salmon Arm cannabis retail outlet

BC Liquor Distribution Branch pursuing new store at SmartCentres site

Cougar attacks, kills dog in Okanagan

Conservation officer gives tips on what to do in case of encounter with a cougar.

Vernon murder suspect denied bail

One of two accused of murder will remain behind bars

Semis obstruct westbound lane of TCH near Sicamous

Traffic is moving slowly, alternating the use of the eastbound lane

Man charged in Salmon Arm 7-Eleven fire granted bail

Accused facing arson charges released with 23 conditions including a 7 p.m. curfew

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay voted into Baseball Hall of Fame

M’s legend Edgar Martinez, Rivera, Mussina also make the grade

Count reveals more eagles in North Okanagan

More majestic birds observed in annual Swan and Eagle Count

Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Heavy snowfall expected for Coquihalla, Okanagan valley

Coquihalla highway, the Connector, and Highway 3, from Princeton to Allison Pass are getting snow.

Judge annuls hairdresser’s forced marriage to boss’ relative

Woman was told she’d be fired if she didn’t marry boss’s Indian relative so he could immigrate here

Video: Runaway Coquihalla dog returned to owner

Archer, the dog found roaming along Coq. Hwy. on Jan. 19, has been reunited with owner

Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet supports charity, competition and community

Annual event raises over $6,000 for Heart and Stroke Foundation

Most Read