Pearce steps away from political arena

Following a long political career, Mike Pearce was defeated in his re-election bid for Penticton council

  • Nov. 21, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Mike Pearce casts his ballot in Saturday's municipal election.

Mike Pearce casts his ballot in Saturday's municipal election.

The buck stops here on Coun. Mike Pearce’s political career.

But the longtime Penticton politician says he has no qualms about setting aside his role on municipal government, after losing his bid for re-election by 242 votes on Saturday.

“I’m proud of what I’ve did. I had 18 elections, and I’ve only ever lost three. So I’m not really upset,” he said Monday, adding he wouldn’t change the way he voted. “I’ve probably been the most vocal on council and spoke my mind. That’s what I’ve always done.

“I don’t have any regrets. Obviously I wasn’t successful, but that’s why we have seven people.”

Placing eighth out of 19 candidates put him in the top half of the pack, but not high enough to retain his seat among the six at the council table. As the only incumbent to be unseated this go around, Pearce said he was likely targeted by voters for his stance on several high-profile issues to arise in Penticton of late: championing the city’s application for a provincial correctional facility, grappling with ongoing South Okanagan Events Centre deficits and, most recently, suggesting the city embark on a deer cull program to combat ungulate over-population.

“There’s other ways of handling it, but that was all members of council unanimously, if I recollect correctly, deciding we should proceed the way Kimberley is going and the way the province will allow us,” he said of the deer issue.

“If you look at some of the issues I’ve had to tackle, I was the point-man for a lot of things.”

Looking back on the last term of council — his return to politics after sitting as mayor from 1999 to 2002 — Pearce said he feels the highlights were reducing the SOEC deficit to $1.5 million from $2.2 million annually, taking taxes down a notch and curbing municipal spending.

“Reducing the number of staff in City Hall, although that hurts families, I’m sorry for them but we just had too much staff there. Reorganization of service delivery mode and clamping down of productivity of existing staff was and probably will be the next phase. I won’t be there,” he said.

There will be two new faces on council for Mayor Dan Ashton’s second term, and Pearce mused that the dynamic of council will be affected by his departure.

“I suspect my dominance, in some respect, is going to be missed there,” he said. “I think we’re in safe hands. I think Dan did a great job. I think he came a hell of a long way in the last three years from where he was. He has a different kind of leadership.

“It’s not as aggressive as mine, and he builds consensus, and there’s nothing wrong with that kind of leadership either.”

As for the future, Pearce said he wants to take some time to think about what he’d like to do next, which could very well include embarking upon a list of a dozen or so invention ideas percolating in his head.

“Politics is a hobby of mine more than it is my living. That’s not that big of a decision. I have a bunch of inventions in the design stage, so I might go on to developing those,” he said. “That’s life.”