Community issues are important to Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund.
So important, he rarely misses a call, even in the shower or the bath.
“People ask me how do I answer the phone in the shower. I turn off the shower, dry off my hands, answer the phone. Baths, too. Because the calls are important and there are always issues coming up,” said Mund, who announced Friday afternoon the city will have a new mayor in November, as he plans not to seek re-election, but will, instead, run for a seat on city council.
“We have some good candidates for the (mayor’s) position. I decided through pressure from a lot of good friends and people to continue to be involved in politics and run for a councillor’s position.
“There needs to be some continuity. The expectations are that we continue to work with all of the individuals that exist in our community to continue to try and solve the problems of homelessness, development, any other issues that people want, but do it on a logical basis, not just go out and throw it to the wall and hope it sticks.”
Mund, a former Wendy’s Restaurant franchisee, was elected mayor in 2014.
His main reason for not seeking re-election as mayor, he said, was his family.
“Being mayor is a full-time job,” said Mund. “My kids are 12 and almost 14, this is the best time of their lives, and after they turn 18, they’ll be gone. My eldest may be gone soon and I don’t want to miss the time that I can spend with her, her last four years within our household. My decision was based on that.
“The mayor’s job is not 8 to 5. It continues long after. It’s like being the CEO of a big company. Your phone is always attached to you.”
Incumbent councillors Scott Anderson, Dalvir Nahal and Brian Quiring will be seeking re-election while Juliette Cunningham and Catherine Lord will step aside after the vote. Bob Spiers’ seat has been empty since his sudden death in June.
“We’re going to miss Juliette, Catherine and, of course, Bob, that’s a lot of knowledge those three individuals have,” said Mund, who was bestowed with the Good Citizen of the Year honour in 2013. “I want to continue what’s best for our community and be a part of that drive for the next four years.”
Four men – Victor Cumming, Art Gourley, Erik Olesen and Darrin Taylor – have declared their candidacy for mayor while those seeking council seats are Teresa Durning, Kelly Fehr, Sherrilee Franks, Kari Gares, Don Jefcoat and Rick Lavin.
Mund defeated Cumming by only 625 votes in a five-person race for mayor in 2014.
He wouldn’t come out and endorse any mayoral candidate, but he supports Durning in her bid for council. What he hopes for, from now til the vote, is a clean race.
“I hope there’s no throwing garbage back at each other,” said Mund, referencing heat Taylor has taken in social and mainstream media for sensitive comments made on Facebook and Twitter. “I hope there’s no mudslinging.”
Mund, himself, took flak when it came to light via the media he blew positive in a breathalyzer test in November 2017. Mund apologized to his constituents for his reading, which was 0.05 per cent.
Residents have until Sept. 14 to declare their candidacy for mayor, council, school board trustee and regional district director.
Asked if there was one thing he’s proud of during his time as mayor, Mund shook his head.
“It’s the accomplishments of the entire council,” he said. “We worked well with the other jurisdictions.”
Over the next four years, if elected as councillor, Mund said he’d like to continue working on affordable housing in the community.