By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Monday’s noon nomination deadline saw two names brought forth for the position of Morinville’s next mayor. Three-term incumbent Mayor Lloyd Bertschi is being challenged by one-term Councillor Joseph Trapani. Both Bertschi and Trapani earned their respective seats on Morinville Town Council by acclamation during the 2007 municipal elections.
For incumbent Lloyd Bertschi, who was first elected to Morinville Town Council in 2001 and who has also served as president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), the decision to seek re-election was an easy one.
“I’m still enjoying the position,” the mayor said Monday afternoon. “I believe that I still have a good vision for the community as to where we want to go, and I want to bring that forward.”
The incumbent believes that taxes are one of the key issues affecting Morinville over the next term and beyond.
“I think one of the biggest issues facing the community over the next period of years is diversification of our tax base,” Bertschi said, noting there is a need to increase the residential and non-residential split. “While every measurable that we have right now shows we are very sustainable in our current path, over the long term we know if we’re going to get a handle on our property taxes on the residential side, we do need to diversify by attracting non-residential businesses to town.”
But while he realizes there are things Morinville’s next mayor and council need to change, Bertschi said he feels Morinville has done a great job in other areas, including the maintenance of its existing infrastructure, something Bertschi said he would carry forward if given a fourth mandate.
“There’s absolutely no point in moving forward with new facilities or infrastructure if we’re not maintaining our existing stuff,” Bertschi said. “And certainly we’ve done a great job with that.”
The mayor said his track record on infrastructure and other areas is clear and that he has been a big advocate of public safety, replacing virtually every fire truck at Morinville’s disposal, with another one set to arrive in October. Additionally, Bertschi said Morinville has increased the number of RCMP members during his term of office as well as shifted from bylaw enforcement officers to peace officers.
“The whole change from bylaw officers to peace officers in town has created some controversy in the short term, but over the long term it’ll certainly create and maintain safe community living,” Bertschi said. “It’s been a change of focus and we’ve doubled the force.”
Opposing Bertschi is Councillor Joseph Trapani, a man who said he is looking to make a number of changes in Morinville and to take a vastly different approach to the mayor’s chair than his opponent.
“I’ve been on council for the last three years and I’ve been a municipal manager for the last nine,” Trapani said, noting he feels the time served on council and around municipal matters provides him with a solid understanding of how municipal government and politics works. “I realized that we have a mayor that’s been there for the last nine years and really not much happened in Morinville. Our prices of taxes went up, we’re paying more for water – and we own the water line – and that kind of stuff.”
Trapani said he does not like the way his opponent runs council, referring to Mayor Bertschi’s approach as “me, myself and I.” By contrast, Trapani said he would seek an agenda that puts the priorities of the citizens of Morinville first over those of its politicians.
“Lloyd is always basically trying to make himself look good for the simple reason he’s looking for provincial backing and becoming an MLA or MP,” Trapani said. “That’s the only reason he’s around.”
Trapani said his approach to running council would be more of a grass roots approach that would see Morinville employing sounder budgeting and greater fiscal management practices, while providing the town with more municipal services and greater economic and tourist development than it currently has.
“I want to see a stronger Morinville in the world,” the councillor said, adding he’d also like to see stronger partnerships with communities closer to home. “I want to see more talk instead of arguing between our fellow partners in Sturgeon County. And I not only talk about Sturgeon County themselves, but Legal, Redwater, Gibbons and Bon Accord. [and] how we work together.”
Trapani is council’s current representative to the library board, a municipal service he said he is passionate about. The mayoral hopeful said he is disappointed that promises made over the past nine years to expand the library have remained unfulfilled and that even promises to provide additional shared accommodations have not been realized.
Voters will have the opportunity to select their next mayor Oct. 18.
Editor’s Note: Municipal politicians have until noon on Tuesday to withdraw their nomination papers.