Hamer-Jackson tried to hire supporter for high-ranking job at city hall

Mayor tried to hire supporter

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson tried to get one of his supporters and campaign workers a high-ranking job with the City of Kamloops — including taking on some of the CAO’s tasks.

Castanet Kamloops asked the mayor whether he tried to have Deb Newby — a Hamer-Jackson supporter who worked on his campaign and was recently appointed by him to be chair of a standing committee — hired to share chief administrative officer duties with David Trawin, the city's top administrator.

“Yes. I’d asked David Trawin early,” Hamer-Jackson replied, referring to the start of his term as mayor.

“We spoke about that early on.”

Hamer-Jackson said he was concerned about Trawin’s health and workload at the time.

The mayor said nothing happened as a result of the proposal. Newby later applied for the role of executive assistant to mayor and council — a position left vacant late in 2022.

Another individual was eventually chosen for the executive assistant role.

Castanet Kamloops asked Trawin for more details about the situation. Trawin declined to comment, except to say he did not express concern to Hamer-Jackson about his workload or ask for help in that regard.

Trawin, the city's top administrator since 2012, said Hamer-Jackson approached him with concerns about CAO workload.

(Trawin collapsed in council chambers in June of 2020 and was taken to hospital by ambulance, later telling Kamloops This Week he was suffering health issues exacerbated by pandemic-related stress.)

The new executive assistant was hired through a multi-step process. A human resources committee — consisting of Coun. Kelly Hall, Coun. Margot Middleton, and Hamer-Jackson — went through a first round of interviews and all of council went through a second round of interviews before deciding on a hire.

CAOs are also typically hired through a multi-step process including a series of interviews with mayor and council.

Castanet Kamloops attempted to contact Newby, who worked on Hamer-Jackson's campaign last fall, for comment. She did not reply.

On March 16, a document obtained by Castanet Kamloops showed Hamer-Jackson had removed Coun. Bill Sarai as chair of the community relations and reconciliation committee, replacing him with Newby. The move was part of a series of changes the mayor made to the city's standing committees, resulting in backlash from council, which voted Tuesday to suspend the committees pending a review.

On Saturday, Hamer-Jackson said he decided to withdraw the controversial appointments, but said he hopes to see the appointees serve in the future on city committees.

In an earlier interview about Hamer-Jackson’s committee appointments, Newby said she assisted with the mayor’s election campaign last fall. She said she has decades of experience working for the provincial government — a background touted by the mayor in defending the appointments.

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