By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Mayor Paul Krauskopf announced after Tuesday night’s Council meeting that he would not seek re-election in the Oct. 21 General Municipal Election. The mayor made his brief announcement, had a press release circulated to media, and asked that he not be asked any questions after the meeting.
The mayor’s battle with cancer began July 6, 2010 when he was taken to the emergency department with constipation problems. The next day a CT scan revealed he had colon cancer, and surgery the following day removed a 24-centimetre section of his colon. Over the next year, the cancer had spread to two lymph nodes in his pelvis. His oncologist gave him six months to live or an eight per cent chance of living five years if he began chemo treatments.
Over the past three years battling cancer, Krauskopf has continued to serve on Council, taking on the chair of mayor when former Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi stepped down due to work commitments out side the community. However, recent reflection and discussion with family and his doctor prompted Mayor Krauskopf’s decision to retire from municipal service after 15 years.
“After the recent FCM Conference in Vancouver I came to realize that the cancer battles I have lost over the last three years were taking their toll on my body and my health, but [I] believe I have not lost the war yet,” the mayor wrote in a letter distributed to the press June 11. “Upon return and conferring with my wife Linda and my doctor I made the decision. Although my doctor told me that being on Council gave me purpose to carry on, he totally supported my decision, as did Linda. God has spoken and given me direction, and as always I put my life in his hands. I have faith.”
Mayor Krauskopf went on to thank his Council colleagues for their support over the years and for giving him the honour of being Morinville’s mayor for a year. Krauskopf also thanked Chief Administrative Officer Debbie Oyarzun for keeping him on the straight and narrow, and Directors Claude Valcourt, David Schaefer, Kerry Dawson and Greg Hofmann for their ongoing support. The mayor’s letter went on to praise the Town’s staff for being friendly and always making time for him.
Krauskopf also praised the residents of Morinville for 15 years of support and encouragement, and for letting him know “directly about the good and the bad in a respectful and knowledgeable manner and not through negative and nasty comments.”
The closing paragraphs of Mayor Krauskopf’s letter show regret in making the decision as well as hope for the continued growth of the community he has lived in his entire life.
“There are many things happening and many more things to come in the future of Morinville,” the mayor wrote. “It was my wish to be a part of that. [The Highway] 642 plan, Coeur de Morinville, Economic Development, hotel, major commercial, residential growth, Highway 2 corridor, Cardiff interchange (I still have not given up) including Ray Gibbon Drive extension, Regional Recreation Master Plan Parks Plan, affordable housing, and many things I may have forgotten or haven’t been brought forward yet. It is an exciting future for Morinville and residents should be excited about the opportunities that Morinville will experience. Looking at everything in a negative way makes that difficult. Stepping out of the box and looking at the big picture and there it is – the bright future for Morinville.”
The mayor continued his letter saying he believed Council had slowly yet effectively dealt with improvement on the community’s property taxes, and that it was important to remember to continually ensure that there is money going into reserves for the infrastructure needs of the community in the future.
“Financially, Morinville stands in good shape and we need to build on that,” the mayor wrote. “It may have been painful in the beginning, but it will pay off big time in the future. Many municipalities are now trying to play catch up at a higher cost in today’s dollars.”
Krauskopf said he hoped a future Council would consider his 2013 budget motion to allocate a portion of new property tax assessment in each current year to recreation infrastructure.
The mayor closed his letter by saying he didn’t want it to sound like a campaign speech. “It has been fun, exciting, and sometimes difficult, but I do not regret one single moment of the last 15 years,” Krauskopf wrote. “Good luck and best wishes to the new mayor and Council. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.”
Nomination Day for the Alberta General Municipal Election is set for Sept. 23. No incumbent member of Council has yet clearly indicated whether they will run for mayor this fall.