September date likely for Penticton byelection

Penticton council will decide July 2 on a date for a byelection to replace Mayor Dan Ashton

It’s going to be at least early July before Pentictonites find out when they will be going to the polls for a mayoral byelection.

In a report delivered to council on June 17, corporate office Dana Schmidt set out three possible timelines, resulting in an election day on either Sept. 7, 28 or Oct. 19. These timelines were examples, she said, chosen to avoid scenarios where voting day would fall on a long weekend.

Coun. Helena Konanz wanted to know why council was waiting for the July 2 council meeting to consider the matter, rather that setting the process in motion immediately. Acting mayor Garry Litke explained that they had only just received the information, and he presumed the other councillors would like time to consider.

“We’ve been thinking about this so long, wouldn’t it be nice to just decide?” said Konanz. “I thought that is what we were doing tonight. I personally want to get this done as soon as possible.”

The need for a mayoral byelection was triggered earlier this month when Dan Ashton was sworn in as Penticton MLA on June 11 and delivered his resignation as mayor of Penticton the next day.

“This gives us a couple of weeks to think about the projected dates and the ramifications of each, and whether they conflict with other events in the community,” said Litke. “There is even the opportunity to consider another date, these are only examples.”

Litke, who plans to run for mayor, has said previously that he would like to see a new mayor in place in time for the  annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention on Sept. 16. That would indicate the likelihood of a Sept. 7 election, with a nomination period running from July 23 to Aug. 2.

Litke will have to resign as councillor to run for mayor, and said the decision council makes in two weeks will determine if and when his resignation takes place. His resignation would leave Penticton with only five sitting councillors, one more than the four needed for quorum.