EDITORIAL – What kind of a mayor will Kamloops get on September 30?

(Image: CFJC Today)

An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

LETTERS OF RESIGNATION have been received and, tomorrow, Kamloops City council will set Sept. 30 as the date for a by-election to choose a new mayor and two councillors.

It will cost City taxpayers $120,000 and questions remain about whether the whole thing is necessary. However, Kamloops voters can take comfort in knowing their city is likely to get a mayor who at least won’t embarrass them with scandals.

That sounds like faint praise but when the experiences of some other Canadian cities are considered, it’s no small thing. Many Canadian cities have put up with bad mayors, Toronto’s Rob Ford being only the most notorious example.

In his book Mayors Gone Bad, author Philip Slayton examines a litany of failures in the top civic job, among them Peter Kelly of Halifax, Gerald Tremblay of Montreal, Gilles Vaillancourt of Laval, Joe Fontana of London and Susan Fennell of Brampton.

Even the revered and unscathed Hazel McCallion, who retired as mayor of Mississauga in 2014 after serving since 1978, comes under critical scrutiny from Slayton.

Various mayors have faced conflict of interest allegations, some have been charged with fraud, one was implicated in a sex scandal, another (Ford) had drug problems.

Slayton acknowledges the theory that Western Canada has been lucky with its mayors in comparison to Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. Gregor Robertson of Vancouver, Don Iveson of Edmonton and Naheed Nenshi of Calgary are often cited as examples of “mayoral goodness.”

And, while Slayton isn’t totally impressed with their respective achievements, it’s certainly true that they’re popular, ethical mayors.

Kamloops has had 39 mayors since it was incorporated in 1893; whoever wins the by-election will be the 40th. There have been good ones and bad ones, progressive and status quo, one-term and multi-term mayors. Some have been involved in nasty internal fights, some have been leaders and others followers.

But they have one thing in common: they’ve taken the job to serve the people of the city, not themselves. They don’t show up in books about mayors gone bad.

Mel Rothenburger is a former Kamloops mayor. He can be contacted at

About Mel Rothenburger (6473 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

8 Comments on EDITORIAL – What kind of a mayor will Kamloops get on September 30?

  1. Not embarrassing us with scandals is one thing, being a good and effective Mayor of the City is quite another………don’t see the two frontrunners as equal to the task.

  2. It is a matter of perception/perspective…I personally find the bureaucratic leviathan known locally as the “City” to be scandalous enough. I doubt we will get a mayor and a council with enough resolve, guts, gusto, vision, etc. to put an end to the self-serving interests of said “ode to mediocrity and waste”.

    • You definitely don’t know me, do you? Or maybe you have some perception of me that is based on misinformation? You need to contact me to go for coffee: Anyone out there, actually…

      • I am still trying to get over the Dieter Dudy wound…is not an easy recovery…plenty of relapses…the only person I would unreservedly support would be anyone wearing boxing gloves entering City Hall…

  3. Pam Trarup // June 26, 2017 at 6:45 AM // Reply

    We had 39 mayors since incorporating in 1993! Good article, but a little proofreading, please.

  4. Now if people would get out and vote.

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