By David F. Rooney
The 2014 Revelstoke Election Mayors’ Forum proved to be a periodically tense affair, occasionally punctuated by humour played before an audience of more than 120 people at the Seniors’ Centre on Tuesday evening, October 28.
The forum was moderated by the City’s respected elder municipal statesman, former Mayor Geoff Battersby, and saw another former Mayor, businessman Mark McKee, pitted against incumbent Mayor David Raven. There is no love lost between these two men. The third candidate — admittedly inexperienced wannabe-mayor Michael Brooks-Hill — provided the humour.
Each candidate was given five minutes to talk about himself and what he hopes to accomplish as mayor.
David Raven, who has been mayor of the last six years, described himself as a quiet person with no ego who doesn’t like to go to big parties or be the center of attention. He also said he doesn’t like to share his accomplishments or strategies with other people.
Raven also made some bizarre and, for a local municipal election, unprecedented allegations: he said he had never made a backroom deal or accepted free skis. These might just have seemed to be odd non-sequiturs except for the context in which they were made: a political forum in which his opponents were a hard-charging, can-do former mayor and a young and inexperienced newcomer. Given that context, that sly innuendo was pretty clearly intended to poison the political well.
I asked McKee about Raven’s insinuations and this is what he had to say:
“If someone were to ask me if I do backroom deals I’d say, ‘Yes. Absolutely.’ I’ll sit down and negotiate a deal in private, with Council’s knowledge, and then I’d take it to Council and get it approved. That’s what I did with the ski hill. We — me and the City’s CAO — sat in a room at the Hillcrest with the guys from RMR and negotiated for 10 or 12 hours and at the end of it I reminded them that it wasn’t carved in stone; I still had to get it approved by Council. They said, ‘Mark we understand. You’ve told us this time and again. We get it.’ Getting beyond my enthusiastic comment, is that really doing a backroom deal? If the negotiation is done with Council’s knowledge and approval, as this was, then it’s really a negotiation.”
As for the “free skis” comment, which had many people scratching their heads, Mark told me that me that some money is set aside by the City to provide Mayors and Councillors with a gift in appreciation of their service to the community.
“When I stepped down they (the City) told me there was something like $600 in there and they asked me what I wanted. I told them I wanted a pair of skis from the hill and they obliged and that was that.”
Raven’s comments were odd and I don’t recall anything as vicious in the 2002, 2005, 2008 or 2011 campaigns. Nor do other long-time residents and political observers. In fact, one respected former Mayor had never heard of anything like this before.
For his part, McKee kept his cool and did not respond to any of Raven’s remarks while Brooks-Hill kept people smiling and used his wit to make people smile and laugh.
I am not going to go into the whys and wherefores of the event and who said what to which question from what person because you can watch the candidates on the video below, judge them by their answers and make up your own minds.
And please do not forget to vote. Advance polls take place on November 5 and November 12. Call City Hall at 250-837-2911 for details and Election Day is on Saturday, November 15.