Alison James will be Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ new chief of staff. (UBC)

Alison James will be Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ new chief of staff. (UBC)

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps hires new chief of staff

Alison James will take over as head of strategy and operations on April 23

A University of British Columbia political science academic will be taking over the role as Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ new chief of staff.

Alison James, daughter of B.C. Minister of Finance Carole James, will begin her role on April 23.

James has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Victoria and is working on her PhD from UBC. In her academic profile, she said she focuses on transitional justice, settler colonialism, memory studies and gender.

She has published two papers on truth and reconciliation and taught a summer course on the topic at UVic.

James sits as a director for the Umbrella Society, a charity which aims to help people living with addictions and mental health issues.

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In her spare time, James also draws caricatures of Republican politicians.

In January, city council reluctantly earmarked $90,000 for a salary for Helps’ head of strategy and operations role, after she initially requested $120,000 for a senior staff position.

Helps had initially scrapped the role when she first took over as mayor but found in her second term that she could use more assistance.

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Helps said that while she knew of James’ relationship to the finance minister, her relationship did not play into the decision to hire her.

“The thing the really stood out to me was her substantial amount of project management experience. As our strategic plan has been shaped by council, there have been more and more substantial-ish projects that will be undertaken,” Helps said. “It’s a small town and it’s no secret that she’s Carole James’ daughter, but I didn’t want to not consider her because of who she’s related to.”

Helps said that in total eight resumes came in, but that James was the only one interviewed.

“Her interview was excellent, and after that I thought there was no reason to interview someone else. I don’t like to interview for the sake of interviewing.”

The two-year contract will also include 20 per cent in costs for benefits, totalling closer to $108,000 all-in. The role could be extended another two years if the initial review goes well.

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