Mayor's decision sparks mystery
Rob Sawatzky is walking away from the mayor’s job and he’s identified his potential replacement.
While announcing Thursday that he won’t seek a second term as Vernon mayor, Sawatzky took the unprecedented step of saying that he is aware of an unnamed individual who wants the job.
“I feel that this potential candidate has the full set of skills for the mayor’s role,” said Sawatzky, who declined to reveal the person’s name.
“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.”
Sawatzky, who is a retired physician, has been weighing his political future for some time.
“It was a very difficult decision to make until I became aware of a potential candidate,” he said.
Sawatzky, 62, admits he is largely stepping back because of the social aspects of being mayor.
“The daytime work is great but you owe it to the community to be out evenings and weekends,” he said of being invited to special events.
As for his term as mayor, Sawatzky says he achieved his goal of restoring Vernon’s relationship with neighbouring jurisdictions, initiating a core review of city operations and promoting economic development.
“Things have moved positively in that way,” he said of the economy. “We as a council have done what we can do.”
Sawatzky is receiving praise from his colleagues.
“He’s been such a good and patient leader but when he was elected, he made it clear about his mandate which was a core review and the parks function review and he did it,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe.
“He has been a great person to work with.”
Coun. Juliette Cunningham says she has been impressed with Sawatzky’s role as mayor.
“I am disappointed (with his decision) because I enjoyed working with Rob but I respect his reasons,” she said.
“He’s done a great job and we’ve accomplished a lot as a council with the relationship with the regional district and we’re more in control of our destiny with the parks function.”
O’Keefe admits she was waiting for Sawatzky to declare his intentions so she can decide if she is running for councillor or as mayor.
“I am interested (in mayor) but I haven’t made a final decision. There are a few people I need to talk to first but I am considering it,” she said.
Cunningham won’t speculate on what position she will seek in November.
“It’s too early to say too much. I am putting a lot of thought into the decision I make and I am not there yet,” she said.
The only declared candidate for mayor is Klaus Tribes, a former Vernon councillor.