Three weeks after announcing he had no intention of seeking re-election, Rocky View County (RVC) councillor Mark Kamachi has found himself in court fending off disqualification.
Rocky View Forward spokesperson Janet Ballantyne and former county councillor Kim Magnuson have applied to the Court of Queen's Bench to have the Division One councillor removed from office. They claim he voted on matters of pecuniary interest and that he failed to maintain his eligibility by making inappropriate expense claims.
Yesterday, Apr. 21, was the first appearance on the application and has been adjourned until a later date.
The application states Kamachi's company, AdMaki, a full-service advertising design agency, did a substantial amount of work for the county's economic development department that did not go to tender. It states he never disclosed his pecuniary interest in the Economic Development department’s budget, nor abstained from voting on matters that involved the Economic Development’s budget.
They claim Kamachi submitted expense claims that were unrelated to his role as councillor. He has regularly placed an advertisement in the High Country News that featured a cartoon initially signed "by Mark." In December 2019, the signature on the cartoons changed to “Mark / AdMaki.ca.” Because of this, they claim he has been indebted to the county for more than 90 days and is ineligible to hold office.
Ballantyne said they had been receiving questions from residents from early on in Kamachi's term.
"They heard he had been doing work for the county and asked if this was above board when you're a councillor. So, we initially poked around a bit. We did a Freedom of Information request and got information that showed unambiguously that his advertising company, AdMaki, was doing extensive advertising work for the county through the Economic Development department."
After that, Ballantyne filed a code of conduct complaint.
"The investigator basically came back and said I'm not going to rule on this because you have the option of going to court."
A second Freedom of Information request was filed asking for information on RVC councillors' expense claims, including those of Kamachi. It was from this they came to question Kamachi's advertising expenses.
"We just felt that because they were inappropriate expenses that there are provisions that if you have expenses that aren't legitimate, you owe the money back to the county."
In January, they met with both Councillor Kamachi and RVC Reeve Dan Henn to express their concerns.
"Kim Magnusson and I met with him at the end of January, and laid out all our concerns, explained why we thought what he was doing was inappropriate, and told him at that point if he would just quietly resigned we would not say a word to anyone."
After several months without a response, the court application was filed on Mar. 25, although the court documents were only delivered to Kamachi on Apr.16, and left him scrambling to secure a lawyer.
"We just decided we had all the pieces properly lined up for the court case, that we just needed to move ahead because he wasn't taking us seriously."
She said their preference was to avoid court, and should Kamachi resign his seat before the hearing resumes they would drop the case.
About a week after the application was filed, Kamachi's column appeared in the High Country News announcing his decision to not seek re-election.
"As a full-time business owner and councillor, not to mention part-time teacher, it has reached a point where I can only manage one job proficiently," he states in the column.
Kamachi also pointed to the boundary adjustment in the fall election that will see the existing Division One become part of a larger division.
"With a realigned Division 1 and substantially more residents, I couldn’t continue to wear multiple hats moving forward. The past three-plus years have been both mentally and physically challenging. It has also been exciting and mind-bending. RVC and Division 1 continue to grow and prosper."
Additionally, he encouraged candidates to step forward.
Kamachi says the action is in the hands of his lawyer, and he's unable to comment at this time.
None of the applicants' claims have been proven in court.