The County of Forty Mile No. 8 did not receive any submissions for county council representing Division 7 (Bow Island) in the October 2021 Municipal Election.
Municipal Affairs since has issued a ministerial order to the county ordering council to select a date for a byelection which has been set for Feb.14, 2022.
Nominations are now being accepted until noon on Jan.17 for interested individuals who feel they have the time to dedicate and a passion to help current council members shape the next four years for the county— making our community a better place to live, work and play.
I am writing this article to explain the rewards and duties of being a county councillor so that anyone contemplating running for council can do so in confidence. Some people run for council thinking they can change the world if they get elected, but that is simply not true. There are six other councillors whom they have to work with to make decisions for the betterment of the county as a whole. That is part of the reward when you have seven minds come together with the help of the CAO and his or her staff to make a decision that solves some of the issues the County has endured.
There is a need for councillors to come prepared for meetings well informed, having read agenda items and reports and any other materials sent to them from the CAO. Making informed and balanced decisions are the backbone of being a good councillor and an effective leader. As a councillor and now the reeve of the county, I’ve always encouraged questions as there is never a bad question. I’ve also slowed down the meetings if I could see the new councillors struggling with the information or discussion or procedure— it’s been my purpose to get everyone up to speed as fast as possible as we work together as a collaborative body. It is my hope that future councils will adopt this procedure as you always get more done when everyone works together. While there are two regular council meetings a month, council members also sit on various committees, attend conferences, lobby other levels of government, and interact with various stakeholder groups. Council’s role is governance which is setting policies, bylaws and procedures and setting the strategic vision and direction for the municipality. Council is also involved in the budgeting and approval process and gives guidance to administration on the level of service provided to our ratepayers. The operations of the county are managed by the CAO which is the only employee of council and ensures that the policies and programs of the municipality are implemented. Some councillors explained that when they needed help, the community and county rallied around them. They thought by giving back they could represent their resident’s concerns as a county councillor, which turned out to be very rewarding for them.
Some comments from former councillors were,
• Be prepared to dedicate time for committees it’s a big part of the job.
• Make sure you are aware of the commitment (day and evening meetings)
• Personal agendas are not acceptable on the public stage, keep your mind open and fair.
• There will be times your decisions will not be favourable even to friends and neighbours.
• Being on council is not a personality contest.
• Discuss your interests with your family, you will need their understanding and support, otherwise it will be a long four years.
• You will be a member of council and all groups will hear your words as a councillor.
• Some of your friends will lose faith in you, but remember its not your fault, decisions are made as a council not an individual.
So, if you are a people person and feel you can contribute your ideas to a group of people, with the understanding that not all your ideas will be realized but they will be heard, and your interest lies in bettering the county as a whole, then I encourage you to send in your nomination papers, which are available at the county office in Foremost or downloaded from the County website at http://www.40mile.ca, before nominations close on Jan.17 . I also encourage others to think about running four years from now as there will be some divisional councillors retiring from public service. If interested we welcome you to our public meetings to see how our meetings are conducted or feel free to reach out to any one of the current County council members with any questions.
Craig Widmer, Reeve