An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WHAT’S THE JOB of the deputy mayor? What is he or she supposed to do?
The answer is, as little as possible. That’s because the mayor’s job is full time, and there should be very few times when the mayor isn’t at work.
The backup position used to be called “acting mayor,” which was more accurate than “deputy mayor.” A deputy mayor has no power except when the mayor is away, sick or otherwise unavailable and someone is needed to sign cheques, cut ribbons or chair meetings — though, technically, the deputy assumes all the duties of the mayor.
The ad hoc nature of the job is why it rotates among councillors month by month.
Kamloops councillors took it upon themselves at last week’s controversial team-building session to discuss altering the duties of the deputy.
Supposedly, Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson isn’t crazy about attending public events but he told me he just feels uncomfortable taking credit for the work of others. For example, he arranged for external relations manager Tammy Robertson to accept a B.C. Reconciliation Award in Victoria because she did most of the work on that file for the City.
But since event organizers wanted a political representative, staff sent Deputy Mayor Dale Bass as well.
Here’s something both the mayor and councillors need to understand: the mayor is the one people want representing City Hall at public events. Not the deputy mayor, not a fill-in councillor, and not a member of staff.
No slight on them; it’s just the way it is. You don’t send in the backup goalie when the first stringer is available.
Anyone other than the mayor is second best and, even, a disappointment. It’s about the mayor being the top elected representative of the City and the face of local government. Credit to others is handed out during the mayor’s turn at the microphone.
And you know what? It’s a highly enjoyable part of the job.
So, embrace it, and forget about messing around with changing the job description for the deputy mayor.
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 email@example.com.