Only days after telling the Western News he would run for re-election, Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells apparently changed his mind, as did a current town council member who’s now running to replace him.
Wells withdrew on Friday from the race shortly before the 4 p.m. nomination deadline, and Coun. Sue McKortoff then switched her candidacy from councillor to mayor.
In an email this week, Wells said he’d been “agonizing” over the issue for months, and decided for certain Thursday he would not run again, then alerted McKortoff, who had told him previously she was considering taking a shot at the top job.
“I was certainly not going to just retire without having a strong, qualified replacement. I believe it was my duty to ensure that the town will keep moving forward under strong leadership,” he said.
Although he acknowledged some have suggested it was a pre-calculated move to keep the incumbent mayor’s name on the ballot as long as possible to deter others from running against his eventual replacement, Wells denied that accusation and added “there are no facts to back it up.”
McKortoff confirmed via email she told Wells in the spring she was interested in running for mayor if he was not. So when Wells called her Thursday, “I had new papers to fill out and a letter of withdrawal to write, which I did, and took to the town on Friday afternoon.”
Well said his decision to step down “became a lot clearer” at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September
“This position that I so enjoyed was starting to become more like a job. At the convention I found that I was starting to get a bit cynical which is not what I wanted. The position was becoming more of something that had to be done rather than something I was excited about,” he said.
The incumbent also noted that new four-year term for elected civic officials in B.C. also dissuaded him.
“I hold the office of mayor in the highest esteem and it was truly my pleasure to serve the Town of Osoyoos for three years as a councillor and six years as the mayor. I am grateful to the citizens for this opportunity,” he said.
Two others, Doug Pederson and Ray Vandenberg, are also in the race for mayor, while nine others are running for a spot on town council.