Ed. Note: the following is a statement Castlegar Councillor Florio Vassilakakis posted on his Facebook page, re=published with his permission:
I have taken a few days to think about the surprising events that have transpired during the last week in Castlegar.
Mayor Tassone appears to have been under extraordinary personal duress, and that is regrettable. We are all struggling under the pressures of this pandemic and the impact on our families and businesses. We all have had to make decisions about how we conduct ourselves, and as civic leaders we do bear additional responsibilities. I’m sorry the mayor doesn’t feel well enough to fulfill his duties, but some of the reasoning casts aspersions I’m not comfortable with.
His decision, while unfortunate, appears to be his alone. We are public servants, and we can have vigorous disagreements about policy and are expected to have challenging debate. Framing disagreements as “bullying” suggests that the mayor takes little or no responsibility for his own positions or decisions. Each one of us on council must be held to account. Laying blame on others (or the media) for scrutiny or one’s inability to build consensus is neither leadership nor productive.
I believe that the community understands very well that we are elected to look out for their interests and make difficult decisions. It is not easy and we are all under the microscope. Our families, too, feel the pressures. I sympathize with Mayor Tassone and acknowledge that public life is not easy on any of us. I’ve been voted down on numerous occasions and I’ve had to humbly accept the will of the majority in council. We don’t do it for the money, but for love of our community – to see it grow and prosper. No one can deny that each of us has genuine passion to make this a better place.
While Mayor Tassone paints a grim picture of council dynamics, I would argue that we were tremendously successful in finding consensus on some very difficult issues, often with passionate debate. Disagreement and working through problems to achieve consensus for the common good is what democratic politics is all about. It’s something to be celebrated, not excoriated. I thank the Mayor for his years of public service and hope that he can take this time to look after his health.
I am committed to continuing my role and responsibilities as a councillor for the City of Castlegar. I think it’s time we turn down the temperature, the name calling and any allegation of personal bias, and get back to doing the people’s work on behalf of the citizens of Castlegar.