An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
COULD BE be a very interesting by-election for mayor.
Coun. Ken Christian no sooner re-confirmed this week he wants the job than he got some competition, and credible competition at that.
His challenger is Prof. Cindy Ross Friedman, who tweeted and Facebooked Thursday that she will seek the City’s top job if a by-election is called, with special emphasis on the North Shore plus a clear stand against Ajax.
There could be at least one or two more contenders, but even if it’s just those two, it will make for a fascinating race.
It’s a study in contrasts. Christian is a classic, measured and thoughtful former bureaucrat, a conservative kind of guy. Dr. Ross Friedman is an outspoken award-winning academic at TRU.
Christian, though outgoing with a good sense of humour, is reserved in comparison to the gregarious Ross Friedman.
Christian supported winning BC Liberal candidate Peter Milobar in the just-completed provincial election; Ross Friedman backed the NDP’s Barb Nederpel.
Christian is solidly on the fence on Ajax, refusing to say whether he supports it, or doesn’t. Ross Friedman makes no bones about her opposition to the proposed mine.
Christian has said several times over the past several months that he wants to be mayor whenever Milobar chooses to vacate the chair. Ross Friedman, as stated above, is declared as of yesterday.
Though they run in very different circles, both are respected, active members of the community. Both would mount strong campaigns. The debates would be great fun to watch.
But wait — we’re getting ahead of ourselves. A by-election? As stated here previously, it’s a really bad idea. A $160,000 bad idea. Expensive, and totally unnecessary.
By the time a by-election is held, it would be at least September, meaning whoever wins it would serve as mayor for barely a year before the next general civic election.
There are two alternatives, one of which isn’t much better. That’s to leave the monthly rotating deputy mayor roster in place. That’s where current councillors take turns being mayor month by month. No continuity, and not everyone could put in the full-time work that the job demands.
The other, and logical, option is for council to choose an interim mayor. Most councilors favour that option. So do most taxpayers, based on the response every time this comes up.
The holdout is Peter Milobar, who, for whatever reason, has refused to say before and during the provincial election whether he’ll force that by-election. All he has to do to avoid it is to take a leave of absence from the mayor’s job until next January, which legislatively would mean a by-election wouldn’t be needed. If he resigns immediately, the by-election is on.
Milobar is expected to make his decision known at the next council meeting or, at least, to bring it up.
Ross Friedman has already thrown down a gauntlet, though — she said on social media Thursday she wouldn’t accept a paycheque for the year that would be remaining in the term.