Next month, Jordan Sturdy will no longer have two masters to please as he is stepping down from his job as mayor of Pemberton.
Sturdy, whose last Pemberton council meeting is to be Feb. 4, is also a rookie MLA for the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding that includes Squamish. He waited until after Jan. 1 to resign because that is past the statutory date requiring a by-election to replace him before this November's municipal elections.
Had he stepped down earlier, Sturdy speculated at least two current council members would have run to replace him, meaning back-to-back by-elections. While the cost of a by-election was a thought, his decision to remain in the post this long was mainly out of a desire to preserve continuity for the Village of Pemberton.
“It would set the community back too far and derive too much uncertainty and chaos and it wasn't really necessary,” he said. “We have a strong council and an excellent staff team. I have every confidence in their abilities for the next seven to eight months.”
The Pemberton mayor's job pays $24,000 per year while MLAs earn a base salary of $101,859. Sturdy also earns $15,300 more as parliamentary secretary for the Minister of Transportation.
Last week, the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation's Jordan Bateman and New Democrat MLA Selina Robinson criticized Sturdy's decision to remain in the Pemberton job for so long after being sworn in as MLA last June.
“This case is definitely double-dipping, and for sure there are potential conflicts that could arise,” Bateman told The Province newspaper.
Others who faced similar situations after last May's B.C. election stepped away from their municipal posts more expeditiously than did Sturdy, Robinson told The Province.
Sturdy, though, said he was meticulous in checking the Community Charter to be sure that being the MLA and mayor never put him into a conflict of interest.
As for getting two paycheques from taxpayer dollars, it was separate compensation for separate jobs, Sturdy said, adding that most mayors outside the Lower Mainland's largest cities have second jobs.
“I don't buy that, particularly,” he said of the “double dipping” claims. “If you do the job, there's no reason not to be compensated for it.
“It's fair to say there have been people who have expressed a concern about it, but usually, we have the same conversation and people will go, 'Well, that sounds reasonable,'” Sturdy said.
Doing double duty was never too burdensome, Sturdy said, as Pemberton only has about 2,200 residents and council meets only every two weeks. He said he could do the job with about one office day per week.
“If the mayor is spending five days a week in the office, God knows what they're doing,” he said.