OUR VIEW: Councillors expected to be present and accounted for
Coun. Ryan Mennie has done “many” great things for our community – both on council, in his employment and in his personal life – and for that he deserves our thanks.
Anyone offering to stand for public office and endure the subsequent abuse it opens you up to, deserves our appreciation.
His decision to remain on council, however, after he moves to Alberta to take up new employment is a disappointing one. It might be practical – do we really want to incur the cost of a by-election or operate a shorthanded council – and it might be political – the power balance on our contentious present council will shift – but Mennie’s choice just does not look good.
Campbell River has a history of this kind of absentee representation and it was not pretty. A previous councillor continued to serve on council for a significant amount of time and receive compensation even though he was living and working off the Island. A hue and cry was raised over that situation and it sent the message that the community expects our councillors to be present and accounted for. Coun. Mennie could still govern effectively via electronic media and really, what difference does five months make? But it’s not a comfortable solution, the optics are not right, again, in light of Campbell River’s past history on this issue.
When Mennie made this decision, we hope somebody pulled him aside and pointed out how well this was going to go over. If he still believed in his decision, that’s admirable – we want our political representatives to lead with conviction – but he also has to live with the criticism.