CBC Kamloops, Sept. 9, 2014
You’ve heard him as Mel and Josh, you’ve heard him during our Coffee with the Armchair Mayor segment, and mostly people know him as just Kamloops’ Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is never one to shy away from how he really feels about something, especially when that something is politics.
The former mayor of Kamloops and the man behind the blog armchairmayor.ca is returning back to politics.
He’s running for a seat as Director of Area P on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District — known as Rivers and the Peaks.
For more, Mel joined Shelley Joyce in our Daybreak studio.
Listen to the interview on the CBC Kamloops website.
SHELLEY: Hello, there. Did we get you up early to come and talk to us? You were already up early.
MEL: I was already up and at ’m. Country folk, you know.
SHELLEY: Feedin’ the horses. What exactly is this position you’re seeking.
MEL: Well, it is, as you say, it’s the position on the Board as Director of Area P which is one of the Electoral Areas in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District. It’s quite a big area, not the biggest in the district by any means but it takes in the area roughly from, say, McLure over to Heffley and Whitecroft, Pinantan, Paul Lake, Pritchard north, along the south Thompson, up to Black Pines and McLure, so it’s a pretty big area that needs to be looked after.
SHELLEY: So what is it about looking after this area that appeals to you?
MEL: We live there for one thing, and have lived there for quite a number of years, since I left City Hall, actually, and we just like that lifestyle, there’s something a little bit different about it, it’s a special quality of life. Electoral areas are the creation of the provincial government to bring democracy to rural areas of British Columbia, they came in in the 1960s along with regional districts so Electoral Areas provide a means for people living between municipal boundaries to have a say in what happens to their communities. And I’ve got some experience, I think I’ve got some leadership abilities and I look forward to being the voice for them, for Area P, on the regional district board. Besides which, I kind of miss politics.
SHELLEY: Oh, really? (laughing) Well, tell us about that. Has it been a sort of gaping hole that you’ve been trying to fill with other things?
MEL: I wouldn’t say it’s a gaping hole but, you see, the thing about politics is, the difference between being in the media, and I’ve had two great opportunities in life, well, aside from my family, to be involved in politics and to be involved in community life. Being directly at the table gives you an actual opportunity to influence the outcome of what happens in communities for the better. And it’s just a little bit different, it’s an extension, I often say that media people and politicians are very similar in that they have similar aspirations for bettering their communities.
SHELLEY: Anything you want to see changed?
MEL: Here’s the general situation in Electoral Areas, and I’ll be specific to Electoral Area P. It’s made up of some wonderfully diverse communities and they all have particular aspects of them that are attractive but they also have particular things they need. For example, some communities go through water-boil advisories every spring — they don’t like that. They’re priority is water, and other communities have as their priorities fire protection, and some are working on that, some have worked successfully on that, and have already established or are in the process of establishing. The regional district director is their contact point at the table in regional district, and even beyond to federal and provincial, so it’s important that that person is consultative and is in touch with those communities to help them through the process because ultimately the communities can make a lot of their own decisions but they need the resources to do it.
SHELLEY: What’s going to happen with your blog?
MEL: Ah, interesting question. I’m going to start a different blog for the campaign, I don’t want to use The Armchair Mayor as a campaign blog because it’s become somewhat of a community portal and I want to see it continue. If I didn’t continue with The Armchair Mayor News and just set up a separate blog, I’d hate to see that, I mean as you know I’m kind of a one-man news team there and if I left it I don’t know that it could continue but it does have a lot of good contributors so it’ll carry on. It’ll have to change for a bit because I don’t want to see it turn into a political blog.
SHELLEY: Now, you sat on the TNRD board for six years when you were mayor, from 1999 to 2005. What did you learn from your time there that you’ll sort of apply if you’re elected.
MEL: I certainly learned about the workings of the regional district system but I also learned about the value of co-operation with very diverse interests, I mean you have to learn to get along and there are always differences of opinion and I had some with the various Directors over some matters but overall, you work them out, because you’re working at two different levels, you’re working on one direct with your communities and with your Electoral Area and you’re along working with other Directors in a co-operative manner to make sure things get done and sometimes sometimes Electoral Areas have to team up together to get certain services in place.
SHELLEY: So, give us your pitch. Why should people vote for you?
MEL: Well, thank you, I hope that I will find support because I have the kind of experience, I think, and the kind of track record in community, I’ve always been involved in community, and I think I have a feel for how the political systems work and how to get things done. I certainly have a passion about things to do with the regional district and Electoral Areas, and I’ll work very, very hard to make good things happen.
SHELLEY: I know you do, Mel, thank-you so much for coming in.
MEL: Thanks a lot.
SHELLEY: Armchair Mayor Mel Rothenburger running for Director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District for Area P.