Okanagan Coquihalla Conservative candidate and Penticton councillor Dan Albas has requested a leave of absence from city council until May 3, the day after the upcoming federal election.
Albas said he wants to focus on his current campaign to replace retiring MP Stockwell Day.
“Basically, I have asked council to grant me a leave of absence to pursue (the seat) wholeheartedly and focus on it,” Albas said. “I have spoken with (Mayor Dan Ashton) and have asked him to relieve me of those duties, including being the chair of the emergency protective committee, and make arrangements for some of the other councillors to cover some of the other council roles.
“I have also asked them to withhold any payment or at least inform me the amount of the remuneration so that I can pay it back to the city.”
Albas said he doesn’t think it’s fair for the taxpayers of Penticton to be paying him as a city councillor when he cannot put his full efforts into the position while also campaigning — door-to-door all this week — for office as a member of Parliament.
“I am still taking emails and phone calls and helping people where I can,” Albas said. “But in this case I’ve spoken to the mayor and he has encouraged me to pass on a lot of the names to him and he will work it out with council for who can handle it.
“What I really appreciate is that Mayor Ashton has said the council is a team approach and we are willing to work together as a group.”
Council will vote on the leave of absence request at its Monday meeting.
Albas does not have to resign as a councillor if he becomes the riding’s MP, however, it is very unlikely he wouldn’t. Because 2011 is a provincially mandated municipal election year, if Albas does step down it would be up to the rest of council to decide whether to hold a byelection to replace him or just wait until the new council is elected on Nov. 19.