By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Mayor Lloyd Bertschi announced Tuesday he was throwing his hat into the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC Association race. The four-term mayor is hoping to receive the nod from the PC association when they vote Jan. 28 to replace long-serving MLA Ken Kowalski who announced Dec. 9 that he would not seek re-election when the election is called this spring.
“I just think there is so much opportunity in front of this province right now,” Bertschi said of his motivation to seek the PC nod, adding in his past role as Alberta Urban Municipalities Association [AUMA] president whenever he had the opportunity to meet with ministers he felt their commitment to the province was unbelievable. “While we may have disagreed on the approach, the commitment was strong, and I would like to join the team and help move the province forward.”
Bertschi believes he has the experience and track record to do just that. “Having been in Alberta for the entire 50 years of my existence, I think I have a really good understanding of the province, and look forward to working with the government to do the best we can,” he said, adding he feels there is considerable opportunity in Alberta. “I do have a good reputation for fiscal responsibility, and that is something the province is facing right now. Although in my view it’s largely because of the capital works going on. But we certainly need to have fiscal responsibility and I bring that to the table.”
But while confident he will serve the constituency well, Bertschi accepts he has some big shoes to fill in following in the footsteps of long-serving MLA Ken Kowalski. “The one thing I clearly saw with Ken, and one of the reasons for his longevity, is the work he did in the constituency,” Bertschi said. “The number of events and things he would show up at was just phenomenal, particularly when you take a look at a riding that’s twice the size of Prince Edward Island.” The mayor went on to praise the work Kowalski did in representing and acquiring provincial funding for the constituency.
Bertschi to continue to serve as mayor
The mayor said he will continue to serve as Morinville mayor during his bid for the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC candidacy and beyond. “There’s no requirement to step down or resign or take a leave of absence during the nomination process,” the mayor said, adding with the vote taking place Jan. 28, it is really only a three-week campaign. “I can’t see there being any impact whatsoever.”
Bertschi explained should he be selected as the constituency’s candidate for the next provincial election there is still no requirement to step down until the election writ is dropped. “Once the writ is dropped by the premier, then you are required to take a leave of absence for the duration,” Bertschi said, adding who would take over at that point would have to be determined. “There’s a couple ways and we’ll have to have that discussion with council. You can have the Deputy Mayor do that or you can appoint an acting mayor.”
Until the writ is dropped, Bertschi is confident he can wear the two hats, something he has done before when serving concurrently as Morinville mayor and as AUMA president. Bertschi said the role of mayor is a part time position and that over the years he has held various positions and employment alongside serving as mayor. “I’ve been able to very clearly integrate the time required to be the mayor as well as the different jobs and careers that I’ve had over that decade,” he said, adding he has been able to make it all work out. “Probably the best example is when I was president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. In that particular role the membership is as diverse as Edmonton and Calgary all the way down to some of the summer villages such as Sandy Beach. I was able to do all of that work. It took me across the province and away from town quite often. I was able to make sure I did that work around the council meetings.” The mayor explained although the dual role caused him to miss a few council meetings, there were not many he missed. Additionally, Bertschi was actively involved in the Capital Region Board during the time he served as AUMA president and mayor. “I was able to integrate those three positions all at one time and did a very, very credible job in my opinion, and others would tell you the same,” he said.
Bertschi said with his family grown and out of his home, he feels he has the time to commit to serving the constituency. He is one of five candidates in the race for the PC candidacy for Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. The other candidates are Tim Schultz, Maureen Kubinec, Bert Seatter and David Truckey.