Norm Brigden resigns from Merritt city council
Merritt city councillor Norm Brigden will be stepping down from his position as a councillor.
Brigden announced his resignation, which will be effective May 31, at a regular council meeting Tuesday evening.
Elected on Nov. 19, 2011 with 1,028 votes, Brigden said he has accepted a job with a forest-based company in Nanaimo and as a result, will be unable to complete his three-year term as a councillor.
“It is with some regret and anticipation that we make the move,” said Bridgen. “I regret that I didn’t see this coming, but this is an opportunity that one doesn’t really pass up.”
Brigden, who served a previous full-term as a city councillor, said he is looking forward to the new challenges of his position with Coastland Wood Industries where he will be involved in marketing and sales.
“It was a surprise, and it will be a change for me and my wife [Deanne Parise], but we are looking forward to it,” he said.
Brigden makes the move after 32 years with Aspen Planers in Merritt and said it wasn’t a decision he took lightly.
“My big regret is not being able to finish my term, but I’m a believer that you should be living in the community if you are a councillor,” he said.
Mayor Susan Roline, who had received a verbal indication of his intent to resign two weeks ago, wished Brigden the best and said she would miss having him around the table.
“It was a surprise [to hear of his resignation]; we didn’t have any earlier indication that he would be leaving,” said Roline to reporters after the meeting. “It’s disappointing to lose a council member, but we support him in his opportunity.”
The city will now need to prepare for a byelection to fill the vacant council spot, and Roline says they will aim to hold it on Sept. 15. This date takes into account the fact that the city will need to name election officers, hold a nomination period and allow 30 days for campaigning. Roline said she also took into account the fact that many people will be away during the summer.
Roline said it will cost the city $15,000 to hold a byelection, almost the same cost as a regular election.
“You need to go through all the same steps even though there will only be one position,” she said.
Despite the cost to the city, Roline said there is no penalty for a councillor to step down early — likely because not many people would be willing to run.
Roline says she will be encouraging younger people to consider running for the vacant spot on council.
“This will end up being a two-year term, so it will let people get a taste of what it is like before we switch to a four-year term after the next election,” she said.
Until the byelection, there will be six people at the council table (five councillors plus the mayor), which could make decisions difficult in the case of a tie, Roline said.