Following more than a month of Mayor Kathy Moore’s absence, Rossland City Council broke their silence on Wednesday.
Councillors Stewart Spooner, Terry Miller, Janice Nightingale, Chris Bowman, Dirk Lewis, and Andy Morel issued a press release critical of Mayor Moore’s decision to travel to Arizona to visit family early in April, but came short of requesting her resignation.
“We did not, and do not condone Mayor Moore’s personal decision to travel to the USA,” read the release. “Council and staff were informed via an informal email of her decision to travel, however there was no formal discussion on the matter.
“Additionally, prior to her trip, some councillors and staff expressed deep concerns about her plans; however, Mayor Moore made her own decision to travel, for her own reasons.”
Moore and her husband, both dual citizens, travelled by car across the Canada-U.S. border last month and received their first vaccine in Spokane followed by another one on Apr. 27 in Phoenix, Arizona, where her son and his family reside.
The mayor has since undergone widespread criticism for her decision to travel at a time when the Provincial Health Office is imploring residents to stay home and avoid non-essential travel.
As dual citizens, the Moores are legally allowed to travel to the U.S. without a test or quarantine, however, on the return to Canada they had a plan in place to have their COVID tests and are prepared to quarantine for 14 days.
“We are set up to quarantine at home for two weeks upon our arrival,” Moore said in an email to the Trail Times. “We have food in the freezer and several friends have been recruited to bring us fresh stuff.
“We will follow all Covid-19 testing protocols as required by the Federal government. We have been conscientious at all times. That said, it is unfortunate if my actions have diluted the essential message of personal responsibility in this crisis.”
The release said that Rossland councillors had different opinions on her actions, but collectively considered the matter and felt it imperative to express their perspective to the community.
“We share the view that as an elected official, her personal choice was not made with the community interest in mind. Furthermore, all Councillors, and the City, have taken great steps in operational decisions and messaging regarding preventative measures to help reduce the spread of COVID19 – and will continue to do so.
“Our responsibility as Councillors is to act in the broader and long-term best interests of the community.”
The mayor apologized to council and residents at their May 3 Zoom council meeting, saying, “I do regret the concern and consternation this has caused in the community, and any issues for council. I apologized to council already, and I wish to apologize to the community. Just because I was allowed to make this trip, I was wrong and I apologize for my decision.”
However, before introducing the agenda, Moore also emphasized that her decision to travel was not as a mayor but as a private citizen.
“I do want to say the issue of me travelling is really not a council issue, it was the personal decision I made, and I would welcome any of you to contact me (outside of council), send me an email or something, and we can talk about it then,” said Moore.
Council also noted that they do not have the authority to remove the mayor, and that any other types of reprimand “would only serve to be symbolic.”
Councillors were unanimous in appreciating Mayor Moore’s past leadership and her long standing contribution to the good governance of the city.
“It is our considered and shared opinion that resignation by the mayor, and the resulting by-election, would be a significant disruption to the functioning of our operations, add additional expense to the city and deepen division in the community.
“In short, while council is deeply troubled by Mayor Moore’s recent judgement, we feel it is in the best interest of the community for her to continue acting as mayor in a limited capacity for the remaining 18 months of her term.”