Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian will not seek re-election in the Oct. 15 civic election.
Christian confirmed speculation that had been brewing for the past several months in a statement he released on Monday (Feb. 21).
His final day as mayor will be on Nov. 1.
Christian said he is making the announcement now — eight months before the election — to allow those considering running for mayor to have “a clear runway to organize and finance a solid campaign and vision for the future of Kamloops.”
“I will not endorse nor become involved in the 2022 election except to correct the record should anyone misrepresent the work of this administration,” Christian said.
Political chatter has current councillors Arjun Singh and Dieter Dudy mulling a run, while former councillor Ray Dhaliwal has teased a run online.
Christian leaves municipal politics as one of the most successful ever at the local level.
He was first elected as a school trustee in 1993 and spent 18 years on the Kamloops-Thompson board of education, including eight years as Chairman. Christian was first elected to Kamloops council in 2011 and was re-elected in 2014. In 2017 he was elected mayor in a by-election and was re-elected in 2018.
In his time on the ballot, Christian topped the polls every time, but one.
In his statement, Christian offered advice to those eyeing his office.
“To use an Olympic analogy, being mayor is more a team sport than an individual event. Your effectiveness will only be as strong as your ability to form a strong team with council, administration and, more recently, with the British Columbia Urban Mayors Caucus,” he said.
“Without the support of council, you will suffer many humiliating defeats and votes. Without the support of administration, you will see resignations, retirements, strikes and grievances. Without the support of fellow mayors, you will not be effective in important lobbying and legislative renewal initiatives.”
Christian thanked many people in is statement, including mayoral office staffers Crystal Gelineau and Jody Lewis, city CAO David Trawin and his senior leadership team and employees across various sectors of the city.
“I will admit these past two years have been difficult,” Christian said. “Leadership in times of uncertainty and risk is much harder than in times of stability, yet council and staff have performed admirably and I sense now we are approaching a period of normalization. I do note that the toxicity of complaints and commentary is wearing, but I am equally sure that it is a symptom of our time, rather than a reflection of who and what Kamloops is.
“For the most part, the snow gets plowed, the potholes are filled, Kamloops Fire Rescue gets knock downs, the RCMP arrest the criminals, the sewers are not plugged and clean safe water flows from our taps. This is the work of local governments and, while we often take it for granted, it is not the case everywhere and we should be grateful for the efficient and effective delivery of core municipal services.”
Christian’s statement was issued on Family Day and he made a point to re-commit to wife, Brenda, and children Nic, Jon and Taryn. “You have made many sacrifices over many years that have allowed me to serve the community we all love,” Christian said. “My service will now be directed to you, your dreams and your pursuits.”