Who’s in and who’s out? Morinville Council talks Election 2017

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.”

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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.

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8 Comments

  1. I’m glad to see the responsibility of Councillor Putnam for not attending FCM and putting that tax burden on the residents knowing he’s not running again. It is this fiscal responsibility that would have me vote for him again if he ran. I hope all other councilors who are not 100% confirmed to be running again will save us some money as well and cancel their trip.

    • I applaud his decision and am saddened that he won’t be seeking reelection. Hopefully others will learn to follow his example.

    • I was glad to be the one to offer kudo’s to Councillor Putnam at our council meeting and to share this with everyone.

  2. Sheldon, I too applaud Councillor Putnam’s decision on the upcoming conference, and would expect no less from him.

    Here is my take on attending.

    While I am not 100% certain if I will run again or not, I am 100% certain that I have four more months of work to do this term. I am also 100% certain that I will provide my full attention to that work.

    I do not attend FCM or any convention as a holiday. I am there to work, learn and network for the betterment of the community.

    There are those in our Canadian communities who are fully planning to run who will attend these things without spending much or any time at the actual sessions.

    I can assure you, that is not now nor has it ever been the case with me.

    To me it is better to have someone attend that will try to put in place lessons learned regardless of their time left, rather than someone who wants to run (they may or may not get in) who will sit on their ass at the outdoor patios for the majority of the conference.

    Having served on Council, you know it happens.

    Knowing the cost of attending these conferences, I do my best to bring value back to the community.

    • I can certainly respect your opinion. I have attended as well and understand the value that can be brought back to a community. I also know the value of attending seminars and being there to learn and not taking the day off to go on wine tours… I know you are dedicated and I can respect that.

      All of that being said I also know that most people who may have made a decision not to run again formally are possibly already checking out of their duties and responsibilities. Would they be as invested in bringing back the knowledge and value of a conference or may it just be a last fun vacation paid for by the taxpayer? I can’t say I know the answer but I do know that there’s lots of opportunity to learn through the term and I think a conference of such importance may be best suited to be attended during the first 1-3 years of a term as opposed to the last year regardless.

      If you go bring back value. Most importantly if you don’t plan on bringing back value don’t go. You’ve said you will bring back value. I would formally challenge everyone attending to be prepared to do the same.

      I appreciate what our mayor and councillors do for our community and in some ways I see this as a great reward for being committed to our community. The hospitality rooms proved for lots of fun but the seminars were often boring but incredibly valuable. Let’s hope it’s all seminars LOL.

      What do you think the cost of each person attending this one will be?

  3. Sheldon, not attending in the final year of a four-year term may well be something worth considering putting into a procedural bylaw.

    I’ve never consider these trips an entitlement in any way, but public perception in the final year of a term or any year of a term may be quite different.

    I’ll certainly be hitting a hospitality event or two as that is where much of the networking occurs, but the focus is always on the sessions, which are hit and miss in terms of the presenters ability to maintain interest.

    The tours that are worthwhile are the study tours, and I’ve been on several that were informative, particularly those that involved recreation centres.

    As to the cost – it is enormous. I do not have the numbers per person, but would be happy to get them.

    I know the flight was roughly $600 and the cost of registration for the early-bird rate was $937 per person. I would have to check on the hotel costs as those were booked by staff. Assuming $150 per night, you are looking at $900. All in, you re roughly $2400, not counting per diems.

    • All members of Council that have indicated they are not running again should not attend this conference at the Taxpayer expense. Gord clearly understands this. Hats off to you my friend.

      Mayor Holmes should be attending, but all her costs should be paid by the AUMA in her role as President. I know she has a lot of responsibilities at this conference in her role as President.

      If AUMA is not paying her way, the Town should not pay, as her responsibilities in the role of Morinville Mayor are zero if she is not running again.

      Clearly councillor Fitzgerald should not be attending on the Taxpayers dime.

      Those incumbents playing the game of “I’ll let you know” should not be attending the FCM Conference at the Taxpayers expense. This is where Stephens idea of a procedural bylaw falls short. Either you are committed to serving another four years, or you are not.

      Let us know before we send you on a $4,000 convention four months before you “may or may not” run again. I disagree you should attend because what you learn next week will make you a better member of council for the next four months.

      The council does not sit for 6 of the 8 weeks of July and August. And once the “writ is dropped” the council does not sit for the 4 weeks before the election.

      After this conference, there are a maximum of 4 council meetings for you to extol us with the new found wisdom from this conference. Certainly not enough time for this Council to make significant decisions.

      Do you believe the taxpayers should send an uncommitted incumbent to this conference at a cost of $4000?

      If so, should I be able to attend this conference at the taxpayer expense because I may or may not run this fall?

      What of all the other folks that want to run this fall? Should we pay for them to attend as well? If you are in the “undecided” camp, you clearly believe they should.

      Those incumbents that are committed to run in the next election, Nicole only, should be allowed to attend as she is clearly committed to being on the next council.

      Our decision on election day may change her desires, but that does not excuse her from attending this conference to expand her education to serve our Town going forward.

      I believe if you are only committed for the next four months, the taxpayers should not pay for any member of the current council to go on one last conference with the “team” for one final get together to celebrate “our” achievements.

      Maybe it’s just me.

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