With the byelection quickly approaching, it is important for voters to become familiar with the people that are running to fill late Coun. Claire Newman’s position at city council.

Michael ‘MJ’ Phillips is one of the four candidates running for city councillor.

Phillips was born and raised in Lytton, B.C., Phillips moved to Merritt in 2018.

Previously, Phillips had run for city council in 2022. “I’ve been studying politics for almost 20 plus years, I’ve read the Constitution Act cover to cover… I read laws, I’m one of these people that likes to read, learn, and not go just take things for granted,” said Phillips

“In understanding how a system works, you have to understand how the details work and how much time and energy and teamwork there is in actually going and working to get good resolutions for the community,” he added.

Phillip’s main priorities are water and sewer; and flood mitigation. “The community and the infrastructure has to come first,” said Phillips. “These are the highest priority things we have
to deal with, we’re expanding and we have to look down the road, how far we’re gonna have to expand and upgrade infrastructure.”

“The community and their needs come first and my personal ideas and beliefs come second,” said Phillips. “I’m willing to go a step back and

say my ideas can sit on the backburner until hell freezes over until these
issues are resolved.”

Some of these ‘backburner’ ideas include what Phillips calls a central- use facility. The facility would function as a multi- use building which can be used as a hockey arena, theatre, concert venue, office space, gym, restaurant, library, museum and rental space.

The central-use facility would utilize solar and wind power, and LED lighting to reduce costs of powering the four storey building.

“We’ve got all these building that are all over the place, that are all aging, so I’m looking at the unconventional idea of what would it cost to save us money for tax dollars on the other side,” said Phillips. “The conventional says ‘no, we should wait until the

building starts falling apart,’ I’m saying what we should do is start looking at the curve of expenses, when the expenses go up, we need to look at replacing it before it gets out of hand.”

Phillips has estimated the cost of the building to be approximately $50 million and believes Central Park is an optimal location for the building. “We have multiple baseball diamonds, they rarely are being used, except for maybe five times a year, maybe a week if that, where it’s in full use,” said Phillips.

Phillips also wishes to increase transparency in the municipal government. “There’s a lot of things happening but not a lot of things are publicly talked about, you have to go the Merritt Wire or Facebook groups to find out
what’s going on,” said Phillips. “Transparency to me is like, let’s just put the information out there so we can save ourselves a ton of money from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and taking office workers away from their actual job of dealing with real issues that are at hand, dealing with the people in the community businesses and so on and so forth.”

In a closing statement during his interview with the Herald, Phillips stated the following: “If you vote for me, I am going to be taking this job seriously. I’ll be reading every piece of paper that’s sent to me. I won’t be coming unprepared to the meetings. I will be absolutely prepared and I will have questions, and I will want to take questions from people in the community to go and see if we can get answers.”

The Herald will be interviewing all candidates prior to the byelection on April 20.