Vernon councillor Scott Anderson is taking a run at the mayor's chair in the municipal election, and on Thursday unveiled his mayoral strategy should he win.
Anderson says he wants to "amplify Vernon’s voice to make change at the provincial level."
"Many of the problems we face as a city are not within our jurisdiction to fix,” he said in a press release. "In the case of crime, we can enforce bylaws, but little more. Drug policy, affordable housing, the courts, doctors, health, police, even the highways through downtown are all under senior government jurisdiction. That's why it frustrates people when they look to local politicians to fix things, but they can't."
Anderson believes municipalities can use political pressure to make change at the provincial level.
He says the relationship "doesn't have to be oppositional."
"Vernon uses the so-called 'weak mayoral system'. Unlike the executive powers of a mayor in a city like New York, with which the mayor can veto council resolutions and by which the mayor holds significant power over administration, in the weak system mayors have no more real power than any other councillor. He or she is just one vote amongst seven for the purpose of voting, no more and no less."
He says that requires leadership gets to 'yes' on important issues, "and that means compromise, as well as trying to maintain a collegial council chamber in which every voice is heard."
If elected, he's asked Coun. Kelly Fehr to co-sponsor a joint motion asking the province to expedite addiction and mental health treatment… "something everyone on council can agree on. I'll be looking for those areas where most or all councillors can agree, because that's the only way we're going to get things done."
Anderson says part of the role is to boost civic pride, but he also wants to maintain regional partnerships "to keep a finger on the pulse of local government" and also to form alliances across the province similar to the Council of BC Urban Mayors.
"This amplifies our collective municipal voices, and if enough municipal voices are heard, the province pays attention," he says.
"I would be interested in talking with them, and if there is no room for us within that caucus, I will talk to the mayors of other cities across the region to discuss how we can advocate for solutions to shared problems. With council's permission I'll bring our concerns to the forefront with the province.
"Even a single council can speak with authority to the province if the voice is strong enough," said Anderson, "as when Coun. (Kari) Gares and I made motions that resulted in ... minister David Eby visiting to listen to our concerns directly, in our own Vernon council chambers."
Anderson cites Mayor Lori Ackerman of Fort St. John as an influential leader, bringing the concerns of Northern B.C. to Victoria and Ottawa.
"The current council works extremely well together, despite differing opinions and world views," says Anderson.
"This 2018-2022 term has been characterized by a lack of toxicity and a collegial atmosphere amongst councillors, and right now we have a seasoned powerhouse of a council, in my opinion. All we've been lacking is leadership."
Anderson, a local business owner, is a former captain in the Canadian Reserve Forces and leader of the Conservative Party of BC. He has an academic background in political studies and political economy.