Mayor Larry Jangula says the candidates’ focus on their political careers, not city business, has caused discord and promoted electioneering
Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula has accused the three incumbent council members seeking to replace him of “electioneering” during City Council meetings.
Jangula says Erik Eriksson, David Frisch and Bob Wells should focus on city business, not their political careers.
“I have already seen signs of electioneering at our council meetings and it is causing a distraction,” Jangula told Decafnation in a written statement.
“Not to mention that it is most unfortunate that these councillors are focusing on their political careers and not on city business, especially at this time of year when important matters like budgets, taxes and service fees are being decided,” he said.
It’s unusual for incumbent council members to challenge a sitting mayor, unless decisions or personalities have caused a major disagreement. It’s open season, however, if the incumbent mayor is retiring.
But Jangula says he hasn’t decided whether to seek re-election.
“My energies are being focused on the issues that impact the community and the taxpayers,” he said. “I will decide at a more appropriate time if I will be seeking re-election and I have no further comment on this matter at this time.”
No obvious disagreement has occurred, although some council members have privately criticized Jangula’s handling of meetings, especially citizen presentations. Jangula got embroiled in a social media firestorm last year over an email reply to a citizen that was widely regarded as condescending and sarcastic.
It’s more likely the three candidates suspect Jangula will step down and are jostling early to build support.
“I am very disappointed that members of my council have decided to start their campaigns in March, a full eight months before the Oct. 20, 2018 municipal election,” Jangula said. “One of the mayoralty candidates, Erik Eriksson, actually started last October, a full year prior to the election.
But Eriksson says the long lead time gives voters a chance to evaluate candidates.
“I announced my intention to run for mayor one year ahead of the election for two reasons,” he told Decafnation. “One is to give people lots of time to evaluate my readiness to serve as mayor.
“The other reason (as I’ve been telling people on the doorstep) is there’s a lot of doors to knock on. ”
Jangula also criticized council members not running for mayor but who are already supporting a colleague.
“I am very concerned when certain councillors are publicly endorsing other councillors for the position of mayor, which is already causing disharmony and discord at our council table,” he said.
Council member Doug Hillan last week announced his support for David Frisch’s campaign.
Frisch, however, rejects the mayor’s criticisms, and says he is focused on city business.
“I have been working for changes to improve housing affordability, transportation options, and downtown vitalization since I was first elected 3 1/2 years ago,” he said. “My focus on council remains the same and my run for mayor echos these principles.”
In regards to council member’s distractions, Frisch said it’s possible that his positions are gaining more attention now, and “that bothers other members of council.”
“But disagreement is nothing new. In fact, disagreement is the foundation of a full discussion and council is the place where issues are debated and, ultimately, decisions are made,” he said. “I look forward to being a leader who understands this and doesn’t shy away from difficult issues or attempt to silence or discourage views which oppose my own.”
Councillors Mano Theos and Rebecca Lennox have not responded to Decafnation’s enquiries about which of the three mayoralty candidates they might support.
Wells said his candidacy for mayor has not distracted him from making effective decisions.
“I can only speak to my focus on getting things done,” he said. “I respect the mayor and city councillors and I think we work well as a council even when we disagree.”
Wells told Decafnation that since being elected in 2014, he has “worked hard to learn as much as I could to make the best decisions possible and will continue to do so.”
“I have not found announcing my candidacy for mayor to be a distraction for me to make effective decisions,” he said. “As someone that loves budgets this is my favourite time of year, and I’m compelled to be prepared and engaged at all meetings.”