The race for the office of Mayor in the City of Merritt has come to an end, with former City Councillor Mike Goetz defeating the incumbent Mayor, Linda Brown, and securing a four year mandate in City Hall. Goetz will be the chair of a council that is entirely new, with the exception of Councillor Adam Etchart, who was re-elected in a landslide victory.
The City of Merritt will have a new Mayor beginning November 1, when Mayor-Elect Goetz and his new council will be sworn in at City Hall. Goetz earned a convincing win on Saturday night, garnering 859 votes compared to Tony Luck’s 700, Linda Brown at 565, and Mike Bhangu at 267. This result came as a surprise to many in the community, with Councillor Tony Luck being the perceived frontrunner for most of the campaign. Goetz said that he is pleased with the result, and looks forward to leading the newly elected City Council to a successful term.
“It feels great, I’m very happy, and I’m super excited about the council that has been elected,” said Goetz.
“I think we’ve got an absolutely strong council that covers all the aspects of what we want to do at City Hall. I’m super happy to be Mayor, and I’m very happy we have elected such a dynamic council.”
This was not Goetz’s first foray into municipal politics, with him serving a decade on City Council between 2008 and 2018. Goetz said he took a four year break from politics for personal reasons, but entered the race for Mayor earlier after a year of great personal loss in 2021. Now successful in his bid, the Mayor-Elect looks to start work as soon as possible.
Dana Egan, Paul Petroczi, Wendy Charney, Adam Etchart, Manuel Olguin, and Claire Newman will make up Merritt’s new City Council, and Goetz said he gets a “positive vibe” from his new team. Eager to get started, the newly elected local officials will now enter a comprehensive five day orientation. Once sworn in, Goetz said his priority will be flood recovery.
“The flooding funding to fix the dikes, I know there’s been some uncertainty this week about the funding and whether it was actually there or not. We need to get on that right away, and if the funding isn’t there, then we need to find out why it’s not, where it is, and how we can get it flowing so we can get this diking fixed. That will be the main thing we start doing,” added Goetz.
Now-outgoing Mayor Linda Brown says while the result was disappointing, it was not unexpected. Brown said she felt there was a lack of unity at the current city council table, citing the November 2021 flood as a main cause of contention. She also recognized the anger of many residents of Merritt with the City of Merritt around the flooding event, and said that her role as Mayor made her a target.
“We saw an implosion of Council around the time of the floods,” said Brown.
“I think council overall was part of the problem. We were not united at that point, we weren’t speaking the same language. This was a problem our staff had to deal with. I’m okay with taking the brunt end, if staff stays out of it, but I would have appreciated less criticism. Not to say that they can’t criticise my moves of things that they didn’t approve of, but I think the campaigning began around that time.”
Moving forward, Brown said that she and her husband now plan to retire, which she had put off to run for Mayor in 2018. Brown said she felt as if she wasn’t finished in public service at that time, but feels okay walking away now after the message from voters. The outgoing Mayor added that she will help facilitate Goetz’s transition into the Mayor’s office.
“I want Merritt to be successful and I want Mayor-Elect Goetz to be successful, so therefore I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get him into his new role. He’s been out of it for four years, so he’s got some catching up to do,” said Brown.
Goetz, along with Merritt’s team of six councillors, will be sworn in at their inaugural council meeting on November 1, 2022 in the Council Chambers at Merritt City Hall.