The look of City council has changed after three newcomers were elected to the post during Monday’s election.
And Mayor Morris Flewwelling had an unexpected fight for the top job as candidate Hilary Penko garnered just over 6,200 votes. Flewwelling won with 8,100 votes.
Newcomers Dianne Wyntjes grabbed the third spot on council with 7,783 votes while Chris Stephan came in fourth with 7,259 votes and Paul Harris took the eighth position on council with 6,449 votes.
Councillor Tara Veer was the top elected councillor receiving 10,311 votes followed by Cindy Jefferies with 9,278. Councillor Lynne Mulder garnered 6,857 votes while Councillor Buck Buchanan took home 6,800 votes. Councillor Frank Wong received 6,733 votes.
Former Councillor Gail Parks narrowly missed a spot on council with 5,902 votes and Jeffrey Dawson garnered a distant 4,202 votes and finished 12th, failing in his comeback bid.
“I am so humbled and I look forward to the next three years,” said Wyntjes, adding she would like to see council out in the community more talking with citizens.
Councillor Paul Harris said he is not only proud of the campaign he led but the fact he landed a spot on council without using signage.
“If I would have started the campaign with signage I would have gotten a higher spot,” he said. “So yes, I do think it hurt. But if I would have had to change in the middle, it would have hurt my campaign. So it was still the right decision to make.”
Meanwhile, Flewwelling said Penko’s showing surprised him.
“That sends a strong message to me,” he said. “The message to me is that I think the electorate is looking at younger people.”
Flewwelling said he is looking forward to his last three years in municipal politics.
“I’ve been on council for 12 years and mayor for six and I think that after being mayor for nine years, it’s really incumbent of me to step aside,” he said. “If I haven’t sung my song and done my plans than I need to step aside.”
Flewwelling added there are a few issues he would like to tackle over the next three years.
“Obviously the financial challenges that are ahead of us are huge. This budget will be without a doubt the tightest and toughest budget that I’ve ever encountered in all the budgets I’ve done,” he said. “Here again we’re looking at the balance of costs and services and we’re looking at making sure that everything remains affordable in Red Deer.
“There’s no use having recreation and other services if they’re not available to people. And we want to keep the utilities in good order.”
Penko said her run at the mayor’s chair was a positive experience.
“I am so happy that I did this. It’s probably one of the more challenging things I’ve ever done in my life, but at the same time, one of the more rewarding,” she said. “The people that I’ve met – it’s just been amazing. I was really happy with Red Deer before I did this. I’m even happier now.”
Penko said if anything, her experience has made her want to be more involved in what the City does.
“I suspect I will be far more involved than I have been in the past,” she said.