With the 2017 Municipal Election now behind us, I want to thank all those who participated in the democratic process, either as candidates or as voters.
The democratic process is central to our free society. It provides accountability as well as the opportunity for the whole community to express their views on the performance of city council.
I want to congratulate our newly-elected City Councillors Belinda Crowson and Mark Campbell as well the incumbent members of Council who were re-elected: Jeff Carlson, Jeffrey Coffman, Blaine Hyggen, Joe Mauro, Rob Miyashiro and Ryan Parker. We have a strong, progressive new team, and I'm optimistic that City Council will lead and respond to issues in our community.
Councillor Liz Iwaskiw was unsuccessful in her bid for re-election, and I want to thank her for 10 excellent years of service on City Council. She was a strong Council member who was always forthright, effective in debate and quick to support initiatives that would enhance our community. I appreciated her leadership in advocating for women's involvement in politics. She encouraged community pride through her support of the Cheers 4 Lethbridge community initiative.
Councillor Iwaskiw co-sponsored the curbside recycling resolution that was approved by City Council. She was a passionate representative for Council on the Lethbridge Police Commission. She supported literacy through her service on the Lethbridge Public Library Board. She took the lead on enhancing the lighting of City Hall, an initiative which continues to foster and enhance community spirit. We will miss having Liz on Council, and we wish her the very best.
I look forward to working with members of the new City Council on several immediate priorities. We have our work cut out for us. Our first priority will be to establish a process for selecting a new city manager due to the upcoming retirement of our current City Manager Garth Sherwin in early January. Another priority will be to collaborate on a strategic plan for the next four years that reflects our community's priorities.
We'll also begin to prepare for the important process of developing and approving a new multi-year operating budget in the fall of 2018. Community growth is a blessing as well as a challenge when it comes to developing a new operating budget. There is a desire in our community for major new facilities such as a performing arts centre, a convention centre and a third bridge across the Oldman River. At the same time, building new facilities puts upward pressure on taxes, so we will have challenging decisions during the first year of our term as Council to ensure that we live within our means.
Garth Sherwin will be retiring after a career of more than 32 years in public service, all of it with the City of Lethbridge. Garth is widely respected, and he has had an exemplary career, so I and my colleagues on Council offer him hearty congratulations.
I also want to publicly thank Garth for the courtesy he extended to City Council by providing more than three months' notice of his planned departure. This allows the necessary time for Council to plan and develop a process for choosing his successor. Hiring a city manager is one of the most important tasks for any city council, and I am confident this process will be smooth and seamless.
As City Council's only employee, the city manager's role is to lead the entire municipal organization, ensuring that it carries out direction from Council and continues to provide a high level of service to our community.
Our new City Council will be sworn in this coming Monday, Oct. 23. Our responsibilities are spelled out simply and clearly in the Alberta Municipal Government Act:
- To provide good government
- To provide services, facilities or other things that, in the opinion of Council, are necessary or desirable for the municipality
- To develop and maintain a safe and viable community
A great deal has been accomplished during the past four years during the term that is now ending for the current City Council. I am confident this momentum will continue with the new Council. We can't wait to get to work!
Mayor Chris Spearman
October 20, 2017