September 08, 2016 - 11:30 AM
KAMLOOPS - The mayor of Kamloops says he is fundamentally against the idea of paying for a municipal byelection should he be elected as the MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson in May 2017.
“Money in the bank shouldn’t determine if you can run,” Peter Milobar says. “It’s a slippery slope.”
Milobar announced earlier this week he is running for the B.C. Liberal Party nomination in Kamloops-North Thompson.
Byelections are part of the democratic process, Milobar says, and forcing individuals to pay for them would create a barrier for those seeking different political offices.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation suggests the Kamloops mayor cover the cost of a municipal byelection in the city should he be elected provincially.
B.C. director Jordan Bateman says the former Penticton mayor and current Penticton MLA Dan Ashton set the gold standard.
Ashton wrote a cheque for $32,000 in November 2013 to cover the cost of the Okanagan city’s byelection to replace him. Bateman would like to see Milobar do the same, or pay at least a portion of the expected $120,000 price tag for a Kamloops byelection.
Bateman says if Milobar doesn't at least contribute to the cost the mayor will face questions about his financial conservatism.
“I think he’s opening himself up for a lot of criticism from the public,” Bateman says.
Milobar isn’t worried about Bateman’s criticism.
“I’m more concerned about what the constituents... have to say than Mr. Bateman,” Milobar says. “If (the byelection cost) is a deciding factor, that’s for the electorate to decide.”
Bateman says holding a byelection to replace Milobar as mayor isn't the only option.
In Langley, Peter Fassbender was the sitting mayor when he won his seat in the legislature, he says. After winning the seat in Victoria, Fassbender took a leave of absence from spring 2013 until the end of the year. On Jan. 1, 2014, he resigned and the city had no mayor until the municipal elections in the fall of 2014.
In the future, Bateman suggests the fixed dates of the provincial and municipal election be moved closer together, so similar situations aren’t an issue.
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