News Views: Dual role

Cheryl Ashlie’s hiring by MLA Doug Bing has drawn some criticism, given her duties on Maple Ridge council.

Doug Bing, Liberal MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows and still a Pitt Meadows councillor, has hired Maple Ridge Coun. Cheryl Ashlie to be his part-time constituency assistant.

Ashlie was his campaign manager during the May provincial election.

She will share the new role with Gay Conn, who ran for Pitt Meadows council in 2011, but was not elected.

Ashlie’s hiring by Bing has drawn some criticism, given her duties on Maple Ridge council.

Both are taxpayer roles, and some see that as double-dipping in the public purse.

Keep in mind, though, that being a municipal councillor, which pays her $42,762 a year, is considered part-time work. Most other councillors in both communities have other full-time jobs. Bing was a dentist before retiring after being elected to the Legislature in Victoria.

And Bing is forgoing his municipal salary while remaining on Pitt council, he claims, to avoid a byelection, which would cost $15,000.

Concerns have been raised regarding potential conflicts that could arise having Bing in both roles, such as grant funding or agricultural land reserve decisions.

The same is now being said about Ashlie.

No doubt there could be some conflicts, and maybe Ashlie will excuse herself from municipal votes concerning such matters.

The difference between her and Bing and their new jobs is that being constituency assistant is not an elected position. It does not require her to be in Victoria or to miss council meetings. Being constituency assistant only requires her to work in the riding.

She has shown, while on school board and council, to be an effective politician, and Bing’s choices reflect that.

Despite the ongoing controversy concerning Coun. Corisa Bell, during which Ashlie has been outspoken, she has earned enough respect and trust to show that she can perform both duties, fairly and well.

If she believes the two positions compliment one another and that her new experiences will benefit both the riding and district – or her own career path – she deserves a chance to prove that.

Politicians come in many stripes. Constituency assistant or not, Ashlie’s will not change, nor should they.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News