Grand Forks city councillor Everett Baker affirmed his commitment to seek the mayor’s office in the 2022 municipal election, following a news story published last week online by Black Press, revealing he has a history of sex offences.
Baker posted a statement to a local Facebook group, Grand Forks and Region Neighbourhood Watch, in which he called the story “an obvious attack by a person or persons trying to get me to step aside from the mayoral race this fall.”
A court document obtained last week by the Black Press Media indicates Baker pleaded guilty, in 1997, to four counts of indecent assault which occurred between 1976 and 1983. There were two male, and two female complainants.
Baker, now 63, was between the ages of 17 and 24 when the crimes were committed in Vancouver.
In a brief interview with Black Press Media, Baker confirmed his plea as well as that the offences were connected to a church youth group.
In 2008, he applied for and received a pardon for good behaviour
He was pardoned for the crimes in 2008, and provided copies of these documents; however, due to privacy reasons, the Parole Board of Canada would not confirm if he had been pardoned.
According to the board, pardons (now called record suspensions) are approved when someone convicted of a crime has completed their sentence and demonstrated that they are law-abiding citizens for a “prescribed number of years.” In such cases, the crime will not be considered by the courts if there are subsequent charges for other offences.
As well, a record suspension removes a criminal record from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database.
“This helps them access employment and educational opportunities and to reintegrate into society,” a statement from the Parole Board of Canada reads.
Baker, 63, announced his bid for mayor in January 2022.
At that time, he told the Grand Forks Gazette his primary concerns were infrastructure, flood mitigation and housing.
Baker ran for mayor in 2018, losing by just 56 votes to Mayor Brian Taylor, who has since said he will not be seeking re-election in the fall. Baker became a city councillor in a 2020 by-election.
He owns a funeral home in Grand Forks, and is president of the BC Liberal Riding Association for Boundary Similkameen and has been active politically at the provincial level for many years.
In his statement posted to the Facebook group, Baker went on to say: “I owe it to the community to address this issue with them. I have always taken responsibility for my actions back then and now. I paid my debt to society, I received a full pardon and I have NO criminal record. This is obviously a move by someone trying to destroy my good reputation, and the reputation of my family.
“I have committed my life to public service and I’m not about to stop now. I hope that the community will judge me on my present contributions to society rather than my past.”
Baker pointed to his work with city officials on issues such as supportive housing, the local hospital and the senior’s care centre which was lost to flooding in 2018.
“These are the things that I should be judged on.”
Baker said his hat remains in the ring for the mayor’s seat.
B.C.’s municipal elections are scheduled for October.
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