New era for council

Red Deer voters turned out in solid numbers to make their voices heard in terms of City leadership Monday.

We have a new mayor and three new City councillors to help shape the future of Red Deer – it’s indeed a new chapter in municipal politics.

Mayor Tara Veer brings much to the post – charisma, experience (three terms as City councillor), employment as a Member of Parliament assistant, common sense leadership and she’s relatable to the community.

It’s quite the achievement for someone in their mid-30s to be elected as mayor, not to mention already having served for nine years on council. But the community has always shown their appreciation for Veer. In past elections she’s been consistently one of the highest-voted councillors.

As for the newcomers on City council, it will be interesting to see how they gel with the five incumbents. It’s always a steep learning curve for newbies, as they are really thrust into the thick of things immediately – there is no delicate training period especially with the capital and operational budgets being pretty much right around the corner.

Being able to learn quickly, collaborate with others, adapt, and cooperate will be key in the foreseeable future for this council.

Lawrence Lee and Ken Johnston both bring solid backgrounds in community work and business to their roles as councillors. Handley was the sole Red Deer First member to make it onto council, so it will be interesting to see what she brings as an individual to the table after campaigning with a large group.

It would be remiss to not acknowledge the loss of Cindy Jefferies on City council. Elected in 2004, she continuously brought strong leadership and direction to council and prior to that she was at the helm of Red Deer Public school board for several years as board chair, too.

She was never afraid to say what she thought and to stand up for what she believed with. It has left a huge void on council, and we’re sorry to see her leave City politics altogether.

It will certainly be an interesting four years ahead as the City continues to go through a series of growing pains. There are many projects on the table, including the development of the Riverlands area, the north highway connector, encouraging more growth on the City’s north end and the continued issues surrounding bike lanes, a new aquatic centre featuring a 50m swimming pool, crime prevention and safety issues.

It’s always a balance of handling perceived community needs vs. what truly needs to happen for the City’s best interest.

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