The Pitt Meadows mayoralty campaign heated up this week over the matter of attendance.
Incumbent mayor John Becker is claiming that his challenger, Bill Dingwall, has missed 50 meetings during his first term as a councillor.
“In the last four years, I’ve missed only two days of city council due to personal reasons. Bill has missed 50 council meetings to be on holiday,” Becker said is a video interview.
“Some residents asked me what our respective attendance records looked like, and I didn’t want to guess, so I had staff do it. But I was surprised at just how many he had missed when the staff report came in,” said Becker.
He called it the worst term attendance record in the history of Pitt Meadows.
Dingwall, who presented before Becker, responded after that Becker’s comments were an inaccurate attack on his work ethic, and “a sad part of Pitt Meadows politics” during this campaign.
Dingwall said a councillor could be away for one day of council business, and miss a special meeting, a closed meeting, and a regular meeting, which inflates the appearance of how much council business has been missed.
He said special meetings are typically a formality, required before council can go into a closed meeting. They have no agenda items, and last about two minutes.
These special meetings made up 21 of his 50 absences, according to a city report.
According to city records, Dingwall has been at 86 out of council’s 94 regular meetings; 24 out of 27 council-in-committee meetings, which are generally used to present information about issues; and 112 out of 130 closed meetings.
Dingwall has missed 12 per cent of the meetings, while Becker has missed three per cent, said the city report.
Dingwall said residents don’t have to take anyone’s word for it, they can simply go online and look at the videos of council meetings, and find that he is most often in attendance.
He said he has flown back to Pitt Meadows from vacations in order to get to meetings, he said.
“As mayor, there is clearly a different expectation around attendance,” added Dingwall.
This and other issues could be discussed at an upcoming all candidates meeting on Monday, 7 p.m. at the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre.