Mayor comes under fire in Penticton

A former Penticton mayor is turning up the heat on Mayor Dan Ashton saying he should step down, following comments he made regarding NDP leader Adrian Dix last week.

David Perry said he is not angry with Ashton, as they served together on the city council for many years.

His concern is that while Ashton is a Liberal MLA candidate in the May 14th provincial election, he is still mayor of the city and chair of the regional district.

“A mayor’s position is unique as municipalities depend to a very large extent on senior levels of government for funding to help with necessary works and projects that their constituents need or want done. Every member of council is taught at some point not to bite the hand that feeds you,” he said in an email. “Ashton has said that once the writ is dropped April 16 he will step down as mayor and chair which is fair game, but until then he represents the citizens of Penticton and the Southern Okanagan.

So last week’s article wholly critical of Adrian Dix and his stance on the regional hospital did a disservice to all those residents. He was attacking the leader of the opposition as mayor and that is totally inappropriate.”

Furthermore if the NDP does win the election, Perry said political reality suggests that because of his very public criticism of Dix, the Southern Okanagan is unlikely to derive any benefit from the governing party.

In the article, by Ashton, which is on the BC Liberals website, he states Adrian Dix has been to Penticton three times in the past 10 months and hasn’t visited the Penticton Regional Hospital.

It’s clear that the premier has taken this issue head on, while Mr. Dix refuses to put forward any ideas, he states.

Dix has since visited the hospital, last weekend, following a visit by Premier Christy Clark earlier in the week.

Ashton said Thursday, Perry is playing politics and he has no plans to step down prior to April 16.

“I told everybody point blank that when the writ is dropped, I will take an unpaid leave of absence,” he said. “I will also be paying up to $35,000 for the mayoral  byelection.”

Furthermore, he said, he has claimed all along, the hospital should not be a political endeavor.

“I’ve been working on this, the hospital, for seven plus years,” he said. “I want to thank Mr. Dix for coming to Penticton, whichever government gets into power the hospital needs to be fixed.”

He also continued to praise Clark and Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid for their efforts on behalf of the hospital.

“The premier came and said she would push down fences and came back and announced it was going ahead," he said. "And the business plan, costing $2 million, is now being paid for by the government."

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