It’s an election year, which usually means that the oft-used cliché “it’s time for a change” can be expected to be heard, as often as not regardless of whether any occurs.
This year, however, some changes on Neepawa Town Council actually can be expected.
The faces of the seven people who sit semi-circularly in the room at the Town Office on the Tuesday nights when Neepawa’s Council regularly meets
semi-monthly are slightly different now than when the last regular election was held.
With 2 by-elections having been necessarily held during that time, due to 3 resignations for 3 different reasons, Ken Waddell became Neepawa’s third Mayor in the past 4 years.
While Waddell and Bob Durston have traded the Town’s big chair over the years, long-time Councilor Ron Forsman sat in it briefly before leaving it vacant due to health concerns in 2011.
Election Day 2014 has been scheduled for October 22nd, and while registration for prospective Council candidates will not be open until the 30th of June, it is already available to mayoral candidates.
Mayor Waddell has already announced his desire to retain his position as Head of Council, and cites the administration’s accomplishments since his return to office.
“For the two years that I’ve been back in office, it’s been good to get the CN property to a point where we have the plan in place and it’s been accepted by Council,” says Waddell, “so the amendments to the Development Plan are going to go forward and get it ready for sale, and therefore for development
“I’m pretty pleased with the way I’ve been able to be involved, a little bit at least, with the Medical Clinic, with helping design the expansion to the Clinic and getting it built. If the Lottery goes well, the expansion will be paid for by mid-year, which is a good thing.
“And of course, helping on the housing side, to get the proposal through to Manitoba Housing to apply for the housing grant for the 42-unit senior housing.
“Those are 3 major things that I’m kind of happy to have been able to be part of.”
Waddell hopes to remain in office to see all 3 projects through to their respective conclusions, and is optimistic for a much stronger municipal administration with the recent addition of a new Economic Development Officer.
“We also now, for the first time since I came into office, have all the staff positions filled in the Town Office.”
Meanwhile, speculation has grown regarding the possible number of Councilors who do not share Waddell’s interest in re-election.
Councilor Robyn Copeland will be leaving the community in July, but hopes to remain on Council for the duration of his term, attending meetings by phone if necessary.
“It’s nothing to do against Neepawa,” says Copeland. “We’ve talked about moving back to Emerson ever since I retired. This is an opportune time; my Council term is running out, there was a suitable house available there, and it just kind of all fell into place.
“We’ve passed up several houses in the past four years, because of my commitment to Council. If nothing had come up, I likely would be running for Council again.”
Councilor Allan Drysdale has different reasons for his decision to not run again, mainly his involvement with the Beautiful Plains Museum.
“We have looked at it long and hard, and between Museum and Council, I can’t do both justice. I feel it’s easier to replace me on Council than on the Museum Board. I’m supposedly retired; I just can’t spread myself too thin. I put in way too many hours some weeks than I would like to.
“It was a good experience, when it comes to community service. With the Museum Board, those of us that have time, half of them live out of town; I’m the one that lives in town, and has the time and interest. Because I live in town, it’s handy, so the Museum is our project .”
With at least those two Council seats already expected to be available, this year’s campaign season may indeed be interesting.