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EDITORIAL – Council, staff, detractors must remember who elected the mayor

Reid Hamer-Jackson. (Image: CFJC Today)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THERE’S ONE MORE THING that has to be said about the storm surrounding Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson. Let’s set aside all the closed meeting stuff for a minute and talk about where things go from here.

The City’s news release on Friday, officially from council but sounding more like a memo from staff, may as well have been headlined, “We’re the boss and you’re not.” It laid out who’s allowed to talk, who’s not, and who’s allowed to do what, and who isn’t.
Basically, it laid down the law to the mayor.

If the council and staff are serious about “bringing this unfortunate distraction to an end,” here’s something to keep in mind.

You — council and staff — did not elect the mayor. Reid Hamer-Jackson owes his job to the voters, who want him to speak and act on their behalf and to do what he said he’d do.

Certainly, there are rules to follow but just because you might not like his style doesn’t mean he’s wrong and you’re right.

Never in the City’s history has a mayor been elected based more clearly on the community’s desire for change.

Council and staff have an obligation to listen to what the voters have said and to work with the new mayor on what can be done within the boundaries of the job. So how to move forward?

Council and staff, suck it up and prepare to meet the mayor half way. Newbies, you don’t get a mulligan. Find a really good mediator, lock yourselves in a room with the mayor and don’t come out until you have a plan.

No more council delegations to the mayor’s office. No more sniping and coy remarks. No fighting it out in the media.

As for Internet haters, get over yourselves. And social agencies, give the mayor a clear signal that you’re ready to work with him.

Bring this “unfortunate distraction” to an end.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (9358 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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.

13 Comments on EDITORIAL – Council, staff, detractors must remember who elected the mayor

  1. “Never in the City’s history has a mayor been elected based more clearly on the community’s desire for change.” Ummm… no. He was elected by a mere 31.4% of ballots cast, which amounts to about 10% of eligible voters. Most Kamloopsians voted for what can be called “status quo” mayoral candidates. Vote-splitting is how RHJ got elected.

  2. Debbie millar // December 12, 2022 at 5:33 PM // Reply

    Well said ,100%

  3. Julie Viskovich // December 12, 2022 at 4:28 PM // Reply

    Well said! I commend you for standing up for the citizens of Kamloops! It’s been appalling and disgusting what we’ve been reading on social media and seeing in the news. We were losing faith until reading your article. Thank you.

  4. I am so surprised (sadly) that our new councillors would have so quickly and easily been swayed by the status quo protectors. 32% voted for the mayor. We decide if he goes, not council and/or staff. The incumbents should have never allowed this to happen.

  5. I have wondered if only one council had ran for Mayor if the outcome wouldn’t have been different. And is RHJ an one trick pony, there is more to running a city than a single issue. On the other hand I thought for years when it came to the relationship between Council and staff, the tail wagged the dog. I don’t get the impression RHJ is going to be easily wagged.

    I do take exception to how Council is being painted. I do believe Council wants to make the next four years productive. Council wasn’t out to Lynch RHJ but try to make it work. Like any successful committee (and that what Council is) there has to be give and take from everyone. Everyone digging their heels in is a recipe for failure.

  6. I would also like to commend Mr. Rothenburger for speaking up publicly with direct criticism. The only local journalist with the courage to do so.

  7. Thanks for putting this into well crafted words Mel. I have been (much to the chagrine of my poor wife) shouting this to the tv and newspaper for the past few days. If the detractors think they can force the proper words from the Mayor’s mouth then get used to a pretty ugly council term. I know that RHJ is usually willing to meet people half way. It seems that many on council and staff are not of similar mind.

  8. What gets me is the abhorrent behaviour displayed by at least five, perhaps six councillors who pre-election were, at least philosophically, aligned with RHJ thinking. Those councillors should have refused to be swayed by the CAO decision for a close door meeting. They should have stood their ground instead of capitulating to falsities, jealousy, petty egos and parochial interests. Those people have already displayed the wrong-est attitudes to have for a governing body in a modern era.

  9. Having worked with in the city system for many years, I can attest to the “Status Quo” attitude by senior staff. I voted for change and expect our mayor to make that change. I hate bullies and it seems to me that is exactly what our councilors and senior management are. Wake up folks. After so many years of ho hum leadership and walking the “safe line” it is time for major change and if staff can’t make that step maybe is it time for a change within. I am fed up with newbie councilors being slapped on the wrist for speaking their minds. A few years ago, I asked a new councilor why she voted against an issue she knew well. Her reply was, I was told to vote with everyone else as they knew best. Turned out she was right, and the senior councilors were wrong.
    It is refreshing to see our mayor stand up and be ready to lead in a new direction.

  10. Robert George // December 12, 2022 at 7:46 AM // Reply

    I wish the new mayor of Kamloops the very best.

  11. Sadly enough, what we saw happen last week demonstrated an unhealthy level of maturity by a group of grown men and women. Shame on them. They acted like a lynch mob and a bunch of spoiled brats.

    The first time I met our new Mayor in person, he approached me, asked if I was John Noakes and he said that he was glad to meet me. He extended his hand to shake mine. That first meeting took place on the Rivers Trail as Moira House was under construction.
    He and I talked openly, man to man, about a number of things. A priority for both of us was public safety as well as putting people inside a steel cage to offer treatment for them. I called the place a death trap if there was ever a fire on site.

    Change is seldom easy. Sometimes change involves the way things are done by managers and agencies who should be accountable for how public money is spent.

  12. Good one dear editor. I am glad I see similarly as you do.

  13. Ken McClelland // December 12, 2022 at 5:19 AM // Reply

    Well said. The “that isn’t how we do things around here” attitude of Council and staff needs to end. RHJ was not elected to maintain status quo, as that obviously isn’t working. It has become very clear that the knives at City Haĺl and around the council table are out for the Mayor, and already were even before the election. Too bad, so sad for you. Learn to deal, or move on, as apparently you picked the wrong guy to attempt to whip into shape. Yes, he has plenty to learn, however throwing what looks very much like a temper tantrum from both staff and council is not a good look. Time to put egos aside and move forward for the good of those that elected you, and that employ you.

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