Kamloops city council votes to overturn mayor's decision, immediately reinstating acting CAO

Mayor unsurprised by vote

Kamloops city councillors voted Thursday in favour of immediately reinstating acting CAO Byron McCorkell to his active duties after he was summarily suspended earlier this week by Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson — an outcome that came as no surprise to the mayor.

Council called a special meeting to address Hamer-Jackson’s unilateral decision to suspend McCorkell, who was tapped to lead the city earlier this month after CAO David Trawin stepped away on personal leave.

In a news release issued Thursday evening, the City of Kamloops said a resolution to return McCorkell to his role as acting CAO and community and culture director was passed in an 8-0 vote.

“City council and staff welcome CAO McCorkell back to his active duties, where, during his long tenure, he has consistently demonstrated excellence in leadership, and acted with integrity and enthusiasm on behalf of the community,” the statement said.

McCorkell has worked for the city for more than 25 years.

Mayor not present for meeting

Seven councillors were present in person for Thursday’s special closed council meeting. Coun. Kelly Hall joined virtually.

The news release noted Hamer-Jackson was unable to attend due to personal reasons, and as such, was not included in Thursday’s vote.

Hamer-Jackson previously said he had a trip to Las Vegas booked for the Easter long weekend.

When reached Thursday night by text message about the outcome of the closed council vote, Hamer-Jackson told Castanet Kamloops he heard news reports Wednesday indicating what council would decide.

“They obviously knew how they were going to vote prior to the meeting,” Hamer-Jackson said.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday, councillors and the city made it clear they did not support the suspension of the CAO, noting council holds authority under the Community Charter to overturn the mayor’s decision.

“They all ran as individuals before the 2022 election,” the mayor said. “[I] wonder if they would have ran as a slate of eight, how successful that would have been?”

Hamer-Jackson spinning tires

Hamer-Jackson also claimed various councillors were in a conflict of interest while voting to reinstate McCorkell because they have family members who work at the city — a claim he also raised earlier in the week, which was addressed by the city’s corporate officer.

Maria Mazzotta told Castanet Kamloops on Wednesday she held no such concerns.

“I have advised the mayor repeatedly that I do not have any concerns around conflict of interest for those members of council who, in the past, may have declared conflict on matters relating to their family members,” she said.

This claim was also addressed in the Thursday evening statement from the city and council.

“The mayor’s suggestion that some councillors would be in a conflict of interest and unable to participate in this matter because their family members work for the city is without legal merit,” the statement said.

“In a situation involving the pecuniary interest of a family member or other conflicts, individual council members have an obligation to recuse themselves. That is not the case in this instance.”

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