Rob Sawatzky is reflecting on his three years as Vernon mayor before turning the job over to Akbal Mund Dec. 1.

Sawatzky prepares to leave mayor’s chair

Sawatzky has met with mayor-elect Akbal Mund, but he’s unwilling to publicly provide advice

It’s a series of never-ending goodbyes.

Rob Sawatzky remains Vernon’s mayor until Dec. 1 so there are still daily meetings, phone calls and e-mails. But with every one, comes a new cycle of people wanting to bid farewell before he departs.

“As each milestone in duties passes and meetings pass one by one, the reality sets in that this will soon end,” said Sawatzky, who decided to retire from office after one term instead of seeking re-election Nov. 15.

“It’s pretty cool because you spend so much time with people who are part of your duties and routine. It’s all about relationships.”

He’s already thinking about the hole that will be left in his life once he vacates the mayor’s chair.

“I’ll miss the professional staff and council members I work with. We spend a lot of time together. Even the media is part of that,” he said.

He is also grateful towards the community.

“I appreciate the opportunity they gave me to do community service.”

But there is little sentimentality for four-and-a-half hour meetings and 12-hour work days.

“That was a new phenomenon for me. It’s hard on the back and the concentration.”

Sawatzky also won’t miss the attacks fired towards him by members of the public.

“That’s a very difficult thing. My personality is serious and to try hard and to have people criticize you when you are trying your best is difficult,” he said.

“You can’t satisfy everyone. You must be confident that you did your best for the right reasons.”

Sawatzky admits he lost his cool during a public hearing on the visitor information centre.

“If people hadn’t seen me at other meetings, they would say he’s not receptive and calm,” he said.

“I regret the hearing because it was a misunderstanding. The public came thinking it was a hearing about the visitor centre (location) when it wasn’t. It was about rezoning the property.”

Furor also erupted over the decision not to maintain a contract with the Okanagan Landing Volunteer Firefighter Association. While the city insisted that it was a legal issue that must stay in-camera, some residents accused council of not being transparent.

“ I would have much preferred that we could have released all of the details around the Landing firefighters’ contract issue. The correctness of council ‘s decision would have then been obvious to everyone,” said Sawatzky.

If there was a commonly heard criticism of Sawatzky’s time as mayor, it was that he wasn’t seen enough at community events after-hours.

“You have to allocate your time,” he said, adding that he was at more than 100 charity events a year.

“If the most important part of the job is glad-handing, you are taking away from the legislative component of the job. There is a balance you need to find.”

When asked what his single-most important achievement was while mayor, Sawatzky becomes bureaucratic and points with pride to processes established to address strategic infrastructure and transportation.

“You can’t have an $8 million shortfall in the community’s assets and consider your administration is anything but a failure,” he said, adding that the behind-the-scenes work and long-term plans trumps photo-ops.

“You better prepare the meal before you put any gravy on.”

Sawatzky has met with mayor-elect Akbal Mund, but he’s unwilling to publicly provide his successor with any advice.

“He’s been elected by the public to lead and he has to put his own stamp on it. If I’m not willing to be in the position, I won’t be saying anything,” he said.

After Dec. 1, Sawatzky plans to resurrect a passion for travelling, and he may ultimately return to his medical profession in Vernon.

“I don’t want complete brain rot to set in,” joked the 62-year-old.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon protest draws close to 40 people

Earth Strike Vernon holds peaceful rally in support of Wet’suwet’en people and land

Vernon gas station lowers price nearly 20 cents/litre

Super Save Gas at 25th Avenue and 43rd Street selling regular gasoline at $1.09.9

Vernon’s Fulton Maroons fall in Valley final; earn berth to B.C.’s

Princess Margaret Mustangs of Penticton beat Fulton in Senior Boys AA Basketball final

Vernon science centre hosting anti-bullying workshops

The presentations are geared for children and parents and set for Pink Shirt Day Feb. 26

Okanagan flavour to BC Senior Men’s Curling final

Kelowna/Comox rink takes on defending champs from Duncan/Nanaimo

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Kelowna Firefighters douse suspicious hedge fire

A 30’ section of cedar hedge burned prompting an RCMP investigation.

Kelowna RCMP make arrest in fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Elijah Beauregard

An 18-year-old woman is in police custody facing a manslughter charge.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Most Read