By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Within a half hour of former Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi’s letter of resignation being read in Council Chambers, Morinville Councillor Paul Krauskopf was appointed Morinville’s new mayor. Krauskopf’s term runs from Nov. 13 until the next municipal election Oct. 21, 2013.
Council had the option, under the Municipal Government Act (MGA), of holding a by-election to replace Bertschi or to appoint a member of Council to the post. Councillors Boddez and Pattison voted in favour of having a mayoral by-election; Councillors Paul Krauskopf and Lisa Holmes joined Deputy Mayor Nicole Boutestein in opposing the idea. In the world of municipal government a tied vote on a motion results in a defeated motion.
As the MGA does not allow the mayor’s seat to remain vacant, Council was left with the prospect of nominating a mayor from within. Councillors Krauskopf and Boddez were nominated – the former by Councillor Lisa Holmes, the latter by Councillor David Pattison. Boddez declined the nomination citing time commitments elsewhere. Krauskopf was then sworn in as mayor and took the helm in Council Chambers.
An emotional Mayor Krauskopf had some kind words to say about his predecessor and long-time Council colleague. “I’m overwhelmed. I really am. I have some big shoes to fill in,” he said. “Lloyd and I – a lot of times we didn’t get along. But you know what? We had respect for each other and we trusted each other. And that’s what I want to have here. We need to have respect and we need to have trust. It’s the only way we’re going to get anywhere. We are in too critical a position in this town to start bickering over silly little things.”
Krauskopf said the decision Council made as to whether or not to hold a by-election to replace the mayor’s vacant chair was not an easy decision to make but he feels the public will support it.
Councillor Lisa Holmes said she was proud to be able to nominate Krauskopf. “I feel like at this point we need to go with someone who has the history and who has the knowledge base, the things that we, as new councillors, really don’t have the opportunity to do,” she said. “He does a great job on the Capital Region Board for us. I’ve had the opportunity to observe him in that role with other mayors and he is a fantastic representative for our town. I know he’s going to be fair, and I know he’s going to be really approachable. He’s very easy to talk to.”
[SUBHEAD]Reflecting on mayor’s time in office
After the Nov. 13 meeting Mayor Krauskopf had more to say about his predecessor. He feels Bertschi’s greatest legacies are the Morinville Community Cultural Centre and getting the Town of Morinville into a more efficient way of operating. “When I first started, before Lloyd became mayor, budget was brutal. It was pages and pages in a binder and we went through page-by-page, line-by-line,” Krauskopf recalled. “Lloyd took us to this point here where the budget is more open. Look at this year – two open houses and presentations tonight.”
Krauskopf said the plan is for Council to stay the course on its work. “It’s a new director but the direction isn’t going to change,” he said. “We’re going to go the same way we’re going. I respect Lloyd very much and we will be talking.”
Krauskopf’s appointment to the post of mayor leaves a vacant Council seat. Councillors voted 4-2 against holding a by-election to fill the chair. The recent by-election to fill the seat left by vacant by Councillor Ben Van de Walle drew a total of 734 voters. Council had the same opportunity to hold or not hold a by-election when Van de Walle resigned. At that time they opted to have the election to ensure Council had the odd number of members necessary to ensure motions were not defeated by a tied vote.