by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent
If you’re looking for the Coles Notes version of it, here is goes: Morinville will have a new Mayor come October (which, of course, means Lisa Holmes has officially announced she will not seek re-election for the Town’s top job). Barry Turner is eyeing that position though—well, maybe. Some on council have decided they will run again, and some have decided they will not. Two councillors have expressed they are still undecided.
In less than five months, Morinville residents will make their way to polling stations to decide who will serve in our local government for the next four years. In this community, there will be seven seats up for grabs: one mayor and six councillors.
Election day is October 16. Under Alberta’s LAEA (Local Authorities Election Act), the rules that mandate how and when local governments are elected, those interested in running for council must make their intentions official on Nomination Day. This year, Nomination Day falls on September 18.
With four short months to go before Nomination Day, Morinville’s current council members are no doubt reflecting on where they see themselves the day after the election. So, naturally, we decided to ask them.
Lisa Holmes. “No, I will not be running again,” said Holmes in an interview. “I’ve had seven years of public life, and now it’s time to take a step back to be with my family.” In additional to her role on Morinville’s council (in which she has served two terms), Holmes is also the President of AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) and sits on several high-profile Boards, such as the Capital Region Board. She has two children and said, “my time with them is very valuable.” The Mayor addressed rumors she would perhaps be making the leap into federal politics (taking a run at the soon-to-be vacant seat of Conservative MP, Rona Ambrose, who has announced her forthcoming retirement); however, Holmes said it is simply not true. Instead, she explained, she is looking at options for a career in the private sector and anticipates making an announcement on that in the coming weeks.
Barry Turner. “I am definitely running in the next municipal election, [and] I am very seriously considering running for the position of Mayor. I will make a decision on that over the next several weeks,” said Turner who, by the end of this term, will have served as a councillor in Morinville for a total of 16-years (he’s had five terms in office: first from 1995 to 2007 and second from 2013 to present day). “I bring a significant amount of experience to the table, and understand the mechanisms of local government and how to manage them to make things happen at the Council level,” he said. Regardless of whatever decision he makes—councillor or mayor—Turner said he can be a strong voice for moving progress forward on community priorities. “Morinville needs a leader that serves its Council and serves the community first and foremost,” he reflected.
Nicole Boutestein. “I am definitely running in the [election this] fall,” expressed Boutestein, who added,“I love our community and feel that we are at an important turning point as we near the 10,000 population mark, and I want to be part of this milestone.” The Councillor also remarked that she believes being on council means more than taking responsibility for the Town’s services such as water, sewer, roads, or sidewalks; “it’s also being there for the residents wholeheartedly. I am now and will continue to be committed to the position if re-elected.”
Brennan FitzGerald. “I am not seeking re-election in the Fall,” explained FitzGerald, who has already publicly announced that he will be moving on from his passion for politics in the Fall. Instead, he will pursue his passion for business. Reflecting on his four years as a member of Morinville’s Council, FitzGerald praised the Town’s Administration for the role they played in Council’s successes. “I respect them so much,” he said, “they are amazing. Without their guidance and support, we could not have been as effective as we were, and will continue to be until the end of our term.”
Rob Ladouceur. “I haven’t made a final decision yet,” remarked Ladouceur who expects to take the summer to decide whether or not he will run again. After the Councillor makes his decision, he said he would prepare an announcement “likely in August, at our first meeting back, or in September.”
Gord Putnam. “I am not running again and let the Mayor, Council, and senior leadership know this about a month ago,” explained Putnam. “As soon as I made that decision, I canceled my planned trip to Ottawa for the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Conference, as I wanted to save the Town any expenses that I felt were not appropriate given my decision.” Putnam said he has enjoyed the experience he gained on council but believes there is still work left to be done. “I want to pursue other interests and give other residents a chance to serve our community,” he said.
Stephen Dafoe. “As of right now, all three options are on the table [for me]. That includes running as a councillor, running for Mayor, or not running at all,” stated Dafoe. The councillor noted he would take time over the summer to reflect, to talk with his family and friends, past serving local politicians and community members before making his final decision; “But, I will only make my intentions known on Nomination Day,” he added. Dafoe explained his reasoning for this is to ensure focus is not shifted away from the work council still has left at hand. Between now and September 18, Council still has a job to do, he said; “I’m going to work until the final day [Council breaks for the election]. Campaigns are only 28-days.”
In next week’s edition of the Morinville News, this story continues with a reflection from councillors on the work they’ve done as members of Town Council over the last four years, and what they think is still left to do.