July 17, 2014 - 11:01 AM
VERNON - A Vernon mayor praised for building relationships between local governments feels he’s finished what he started and is letting a younger person take the reigns.
Rob Sawatzky, 62, has announced he won’t be seeking re-election this fall. He says he’s getting too old for the demands of the job and plans to spend more time traveling and being with his family.
“I think it takes someone younger considering all the evening and weekend hours,” Sawatzky says. “Taking the job changed my lifestyle and I knew it would. But it’s been three years of not being able to travel the way we used to and do the things we used to do because of the required attention of the mayor.”
He might get back into medicine — he was a physician before his time on council — or pursue community involvement at a different level, but for now, he’s got a few more months of being mayor to focus on.
“I’d like to make sure this ship keeps steering in the direction it is,” he says.
One of his biggest goals in politics was restoring working relationships with neighbouring municipalities, such as Coldstream and Areas B and C.
“Our council has done exactly that, we have a very congenial working relationship with our district neighbours,” Sawatzky says.
Another objective was to evaluate the financial sustainability of city operations, something achieved through the core services review.
Coun. Mary Jo O’Keefe describes Sawatzky as “patient, understanding and of the most conciliatory men she’s ever worked with.”
“I think the initiatives under his guidance, the water and parks review, have been hard files, people have worked really hard and they only would’ve been successfully completed under his conciliatory leadership,” O’Keefe says.
His success was one of the reasons O’Keefe wasn’t surprised by his announcement not to run again.
“He came in with a mandate to do the core review and work on the parks file, things which were dear to his heart. When those things were accomplished, he felt no need to continue,” she says.
Sawatzky says his decision was made easier with the knowledge that a “highly qualified” candidate is considering running for his seat.
“This person has years of experience in economic development, in dealing with various levels of government, is a skilled facilitator and has the energy, commitment and desire to serve our community well,” he says.
Sawatzky wouldn't say who the candidate is he is talking about. So far, the only confirmed candidate for mayor is Klaus Tribes. Coun. Catherine Lord and Counc. Mary Jo O'Keefe both say they are running in the November municipal election, but haven't said if they are running for a seat on council or for the mayor's chair.
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— This story was edited at 1 p.m. July 17 to include interviews with Rob Sawatzky and Mary Jo O'Keefe.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014