Pemberton has had more than eight years with Jordan Sturdy at the helm, a run that will come to an end sometime in February after he declared his intention to resign last week.
Normally, a small-town mayor deciding to focus on their other job isn’t the kind of thing that will capture the attention of many outside the community. It’s a little different when their other job happens to be as an MLA for the current Liberal majority provincial government.
Within days of making the announcement at last week’s council meeting, Sturdy was faced with criticism from B.C. NDP local government critic Selina Robinson and Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation director Jordan Bateman in an article published by the Vancouver Province. Both said that Sturdy was “double dipping” by having taxpayers pay his salary twice, while others in the Liberal caucus refused municipal paycheques or resigned altogether upon being elected last spring.
Robinson, who left her position as councillor in Coquitlam after winning a seat in the legislature, was quoted as saying that if others in the party were unwilling to collect municipal salary, then “…clearly, there are some members in his own caucus that must think Mr. Sturdy is double dipping.”
Among other Liberals, former Penticton mayor Dan Ashton covered the cost of a byelection for his replacement last year while Peter Fassbender took an unpaid leave as Langley mayor before resigning this month.
What makes Sturdy’s situation different compared to the others is that he’s leaving an elected position in a relatively tiny community, not a large municipality.
The mayor of Pemberton makes $25,000 a year, which is less than half of what Robinson collected as a Coquitlam councillor. The workload for the mayor of Penticton or Langley is certainly more exhausting, and Sturdy has shed some of his municipal commitments to lighten his ‘to do’ list.
But whether or not you agree with Sturdy’s decision to continue serving both roles until now, he’s certainly been busy as mayor since being elected MLA. Announcements of the Pemberton Music Festival and downtown community barn, the signing of an agreement to bring an independent school and potential recreation facility to town, major progress on the Friendship Trail river crossing — all of it has taken place since last year’s vote, and Sturdy has been present in the decision-making process for each initiative.
Will you remember Sturdy’s final months as mayor as controversial or constructive? We think it’s likely the latter.