Kaslo village council has upheld its decision to replace Mayor Greg Lay as its Regional District of Central Kootenay representative following calls for his reinstatement.
In December, council voted three to two to replace Lay, who served last year as the Kaslo rep on the RDCK board, with councillor and former mayor Jim Holland. Lay was named the alternate. Holland previously served as the village’s director and was also Lay’s alternate.
However, last month resident John Addison appeared before council, asking them to reconsider. He brought with him a petition supporting his position, although it’s unclear how many names were on it.
“As supporters of Mayor Lay we have had many discussions about this divisive action of council and whether this is an unjust, unfair, or unwarranted action,” he said. “Simply stated, we want this action reversed and Mayor Lay reinstated as village rep on the RDCK board.”
Addison asked for written responses from each councillor explaining their decision. Immediately afterward, councillor Rob Lang introduced a motion to name Lay as Kaslo’s RDCK rep, but found no seconder.
Lay, however, pledged to attend all regional district board meetings regardless of his position “because I feel I need to be fully informed.” He was in the gallery at both the December and January meetings.
While councillors Molly Leathwood and Suzan Hewat haven’t commented publicly on their reasons for supporting the change, it’s believed it has to do with Lay’s busy schedule and council’s desire for more reporting back from the regional district table.
“I don’t believe the switch was necessarily due to some major failing by the mayor, but simply because there was an option that would better serve the representation of Kaslo at the regional district,” Holland told local media in an email.
“The mayor is very busy and has a full plate with all his duties and personal life’s demands, and a change to this appointment is, to my mind, primarily to spread around some of the obligations.”
A review of RDCK board minutes shows Lay attended all but two regional district meetings last year, missing the May 24 board meeting and a special meeting on July 30 that Holland attended in his place.
Lay acknowledges the change has been controversial, “but such controversy is not uncommon in Kaslo politics.”
“Unfortunately it has created yet more divisiveness in the council and the community,” he said in an email. “My approach to surviving politics in Kaslo is to do the best I can with each day to foster the well being of the community. Many citizens support my actions — enough to get elected as the mayor — others don’t. Such is the life of elected officials.”
Regional district appointments are made annually by council. Although municipalities often name their mayor to the post, there are many exceptions. Municipal directors receive a monthly stipend of $1,006, plus $316 per board meeting, and are reimbursed for travel costs. Alternates receive no stipend and are only paid for attending meetings in the director’s absence.
• The Village of Kaslo is advertising for someone to succeed longtime administrator Rae Sawyer, who is expected to retire in September. The application deadline is February 14.