Penticton mayor takes leave for election campaign

Dan Ashton steps away from duties at council and regional district to run for the B.C. Liberals

Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton

Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton

It may only have been a coincidence that the Vees were in a must-win playoff game at the SOEC monday night, but Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton also chose that night to begin his month-long leave of absence.

At an in-camera meeting on Monday, Penticton city council accepted Ashton’s notice of an unpaid leave of absence, freeing him up to begin campaigning full time as the B.C. Liberal candidate for the Penticton riding as soon as the writ was dropped on Tuesday — and attend Monday’s hockey game instead of council’s regular meeting.

Coun. Garry Litke will now be sitting in the centre chair as acting mayor until May 14, when voters go to the polls to decide Ashton’s fate. Litke said that his term as acting mayor is only up to that point.

“We’re not making any decisions one way or the other,” said Litke. “We will likely have a council meeting on May 15 and we will decide what to do from that point forward.”

Council already has a regular schedule of deputy mayors in place, with councillors taking on the position in a monthly rotation, but Litke said they decided to step outside that system in order to create more stability.

“I think we all talked about what’s most important in the next 30 days is stability for our council and for the city, so we felt that having one person in the chair was probably the best thing,” said Coun. Helena Konanz.

“We are trying to differentiate between the two, deputy mayor and acting mayor. There is still the possibility that the acting mayor may not be able to carry out duties, and there will still be the requirement for that month-by-month schedule to kick in,” said Litke. “But for now it seemed that there was a necessity to have some continuity for the entire 30-day period.”

Area A Director Mark Pendergraft, vice-chair for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, will take over Ashton’s duties as chair of that body.