News Views: Acting it out

Maple Ridge council returns to rotation of acting mayor.

Maple Ridge council, in a 4-3 vote, cancelled the deputy mayor position after six months in favour of returning to an acting rotation of members.

Mayor Nicole Read was so frustrated by the decision that she went to Facebook and wrote: “Gotta love politics. Because politics, and little else, led four members of council to quash the deputy mayor role yesterday. No discussion about its merits, how well it’s worked over the last six months, or its cost-effectiveness.”

We haven’t seen any numbers to support the value or savings to the city of having one person serve as the mayor’s full-time sidekick, a position Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson adopted in 2014.

But Read did say she has a “business background.”

That wasn’t enough, however, to convince the four councillors – Craig Spiers, Corisa Bell, Robert Masse and Gordy Robson – from voting to take the job away from their counterpart, Tyler Shymkiw.

They felt marginalized. On the outside.

Speirs said it changed the dynamic on council, and he didn’t like it.

We don’t blame him.

The deputy mayor got to conduct more city business than other councillors, and could gain a higher profile –a possible benefit come election time.

Serving as mayor gave him a broader view, Spiers said.

The mayor has to work with everybody, he added.

We agree.

And clearly the majority on council felt the same way.

Also, an acting mayor, however ceremonial, makes about $3,300 over a two-month period, on top of a councillor’s $43,000 annual salary.

Shymkiw had been getting all of the top-up, and Robson suggested that may have been an issue with some.

Read said other councillors have to be available to serve as acting mayor.

Masse said it wasn’t a problem before.

That’s good. Because whatever efficiencies a deputy mayor creates, having one politicizes the position.

And that is a distraction, not efficient.

It’s time to get back to council business.

 

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

 

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