Absentee councillor fires back at Campbell River mayor
Coun. Ryan Mennie says vacating the last four months of his city council seat would deprive the community of the perspective of a two-term councillor, young working father and an involved 16-year citizen of Campbell River.
He also took exception to Mayor Walter Jakeway’s statement that Mennie’s decision to finish his term on council was unethical after taking a new job in Alberta.
“The mayor’s comments that question my ethics and morals are baseless and do nothing but show our mayor’s disdain and disrespect for his fellow councillors,” Mennie said.
Mennie, the former afternoon show host for 97.3 The Eagle, will “attend” his last 10 council meetings via video conferencing.
“After careful consideration, I recently decided to take the next step in my radio career, a job opportunity in Alberta which will also bring my family closer together,” Mennie said in an e-mailed statement to the Mirror from his new home in Alberta. “It’s been a bittersweet decision as we will be leaving behind great friends and family and a community that has helped shape who we are. It’s fortunate that technology now exists to help keep those relationships intact, no matter the distance. That same technology that keeps friends and family together will also assist me in continuing to provide my perspective as a representative of the community on Campbell River City Council.”
Rather than leave an empty chair on city council for the rest of his term, Mennie feels a moral obligation to continue to provide his perspective as a working family man, experienced councillor and community volunteer.
“This is why I chose to remain on council during my family’s transition,” Mennie said. “I thank the other councillors for their comments from the June 11 meeting recognizing the contributions and viewpoint a community member of my age and current life experience has brought, and can continue to bring, to the decision-making process.”
Mennie said in a follow-up interview with the Mirror that suggestions he is staying on to maintain the current balance of power on council are groundless. In a seven-person council, losing one councillor would leave votes potentially tied, requiring the mayor to break a tie. But the mayor is not there to just break a tie vote, Mennie said.
“There are seven votes on our council and they all carry equal weight,” Mennie said. “If his decision is made at the last second after seeing which hands have been raised for and against a motion, that strategy would be seriously flawed.”
As for the controversy, Mennie recognizes that the timing of his leaving is not ideal but he believes the community would respect his decision “as well as the time and energy I’ve put into the community over the last 16 years, and would accept that my voice would continue to be an important and integral one on this current council for the final 10 meetings.”
Mennie pointed out that Campbell River taxpayers have invested more than half a decade in training him to be an experienced city councillor working on the community’s behalf.
He wants to put that investment to good use in the final months of his term.
“You may also consider my perspective one that is completely unhindered by a desire to be re-elected,” he said.