November 21st, 2017

Clugston expects good things from newest version of city council


By Collin Gallant on October 18, 2017.


cgallant@medicinehatnews.com
@CollinGallant

Mayor Ted Clugston says he expected some changes to take place in Monday’s municipal election, but he said it was hard to figure out who may be put on or left off the council roster.

He also said he expects a well-working group will form from the top-eight council vote-getters.

After welcoming four first-time councillors among six fresh faces in 2013, this council term only has one member with no previous council experience.

First time candidate Kris Samraj earned the second highest vote total, a notable performance, said Clugston. Voters also returned previously serving alderman Phil Turnbull and Darren Hirsch.

“It was tough to call, and kind of a surprise,” said Clugston on Tuesday. “There were a lot of guys sitting on that eighth position (throughout the night).”

Incumbent candidates Bill Cocks and Les Pearson finished in ninth and 10th positions, respectively, where the top eight secured spots. Former councillor Celina Symmonds did not run for re-election to council, but instead won a spot as a public school trustee.

“I’ve worked with Coun. Turnbull before and I thought we worked quite well together,” said Clugston. “We, of course, did both run for mayor (in 2013) and there can be acrimony there, but we’ve talked last night. I hope to talk to him soon about (committee assignments) and we’ll see how that goes.”

Turnbull and Clugston both sat on the Energy Committee in late 2013 when the two split apart on several issues, including the purchase of the Manyberries oil field and the issue of replacing low-valued gas in long-term planning.

Eventually Turnbull resigned from the committee as a protest, and the pair went head to head in the 2013 election over the issue, with Clugston winning and Turnbull placing second.

Clugston called Hirsch a longtime friend who is about the same age. The pair haven’t sat on council together, though Hirsch, a commercial banker, was recently the board chair at Medicine Hat College during Clugston’s first term as mayor.

“We’ve known each other forever and with his business background I’m sure we could work very easily together,” said Clugston.

“And Samraj, about a week ago I told him ‘you’re going to be on council so get ready.’ He was just on everyone’s radar. He seems very thoughtful, respectful, and I really think I can work with him.”

Both Turnbull and Hirsch will each serve their second terms as councillors, as will successful incumbents Jim Turner, Brian Varga and Jamie McIntosh. Robert Dumanowski and Julie Friesen are both long-term council veterans.

Next steps

Members of the next city council will be sworn in at a special ceremony on Oct. 30 — breaking with a tradition that saw the new term begin at a regularly scheduled first-Monday-of-the-month meeting.

That means regular business could be conducted at a usual Nov. 6 Monday meeting, though strategic planning and priority setting meetings may not take place until January, said Mayor Ted Clugston.

New statutes in the Local Authorities Elections Act require all those elected this year to undergo training as elected officials for such things are responsibilities, concepts and conflict of interest guidelines.

As has happened in the past, special sessions will bring all councillors up to speed on work at the city’s four major standing committees. They are development and infrastructure, corporate services, public services and utilities, which also accepts reports from the petroleum production unit.

A strategic plan is usually released early in the term. The next city budget will be presented in early 2019.


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