By Carlie Connolly
Cypress County reeve Bob Olson stepped down last Tuesday and resigned from council, citing an impending move from his ranch near Jenner into Medicine Hat.
The surprise announcement came just prior to county council’s yearly organization meeting in Dunmore and means not only a new reeve, but also an impending election in Ward 9.
Olson himself didn’t attend the meeting but told Medicine Hat News later Tuesday that the decision was very hard to make.
“It was a very, very tough decision,” said Olson. “The people there are tremendous. I was really sorry to go in this morning and say goodbye.”
Olson won’t meet residency requirements to hold office after the sale of his ranch closes in January. He decided rather than stay on for two more months he preferred to step down before the organizational meeting rather than take on board assignments he wouldn’t be able to fulfill.
“I didn’t think it was appropriate to be part of it,” he said.
At the meeting, first-term Coun. Richard Oster was elected reeve by a council vote.
“Bob did a fantastic job and he left some big shoes to fill,” said Oster, who represents Ward 7 (Seven Persons north/Desert Blume).
“I’m going to try and carry on with his values, right and wrong, and make sure everybody has a chance to speak. We have a good council so I’m expecting a lot of good things to happen.”
Oster said Olson would have likely been re-elected as reeve had he stayed on.
The County will have to hold an election within 90 days to fill the vacant seat.
Deputy Reeve Darcy Geigle was also nominated for the reeve position. He was re-elected as deputy reeve after a tie vote with fellow nominee Gary Lentz and the winner’s name needed to be drawn out of a hat.
Olson was first elected in 2010 to represent Ward 9 (Jenner/Suffield), where he has owned a ranch since 1976.
Previously Olson downsized his operation in 2009 and sold an oil tank hauling business, giving him enough time to devote to council work, he said.
Last year he was unopposed in his re-election bid, and said he loves the area and was proud to represent it.
“I’ve lived all my life in Jenner, and this will be an adjustment,” said Olson, adding that politics will take a back seat to recertification process for his recreational pilot’s license.
“I’ve got absolutely no plans right now.”
Oster, the retired owner of Arts Excavating, was first elected to council in Oct. 2013, beating former deputy reeve Brad Betcker to represent Seven Persons North/Desert Blume.