Smithers’ deputy mayor will be throwing her hat in the ring to make it permanent.
Gladys Atrill told The Interior News Feb. 1 that when the byelection to replace Taylor Bachrach is announced she will be running to become mayor of Smithers.
She said she has no plans to make a formal announcement, but with her decision having been made, she sees no reason to be coy about it.
“It feels kind of funny to make an announcement without the byelection, so I haven’t gotten so far as to have an official announcement, but I am trying to share with people when they ask me that it is my intention to run for mayor when the byelection is called,” she said.
Atrill took over the role as acting mayor at the end of August when council granted then-mayor Bachrach a leave of absence to focus on his federal election campaign. When he became MP-elect for Skeena-Bulkley Valley on Oct. 21, 2019, he formally stepped down.
Atrill was first elected to council in November 2014 and was reelected in 2018.
Active in many volunteer roles, Atrill is the marketing director and a driving force behind Tourism Smithers, which promotes tourism within the town and surrounding area. She said she does not know at this point exactly how, if she wins, it will affect her role with the tourism society.
“My intention is to sit down with my board chair and figure out next steps forward,” she said. “I want to make sure that Tourism Smithers always stays in good shape. Technically it doesn’t change, but in reality it will change because the role of the mayor is more prominent.”
Atrill is also chair of the Northern BC Tourism Association.
She said she hopes her time on council and in her various volunteer roles will put her in good stead to win the byelection.
“At the end of the day it is always up to the electorate to decide who they want in those roles and one has to be okay with that decision-making and I am,” she said. “I’ve attempted to do a good job the time I’ve been on council, I’ve been very available, I’ve been very committed to the job and I will remain committed to the job. I care very deeply about Smithers, it’s my home and I want the community to be healthy for a long time going forward and I’m willing to do my part to make that happen.
If Atrill loses the election, she will be off council entirely.
“When you run for mayor in a byelection, you kind of have to make your peace with that,” she said.
The Town is holding off on the byelection while it awaits approval of a $12.8 million grant application they made to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to build a new Library/Art Gallery. The Town requires a referendum to approve its $1 million share of that project and wants to run the byelection and referendum concurrently to save money.
Atrill said they are expecting an announcement within days or weeks at most.
No other candidates have made their intention to run for mayor public.
Files from Thom Barker