March 23rd, 2017

Former colleagues remember Len Mitzel’s dedication to public service; longtime area MLA dead at 71


By Medicine Hat News on March 20, 2017.

NEWS FILE PHOTO Former Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Len Mitzel is shown in this undated file photo.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com  @MHNGillianSlade

Len Mitzel, former Progressive Conservative MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, has passed away at the age of 71.

“It’s a very sad day. Len was someone who was absolutely committed to public service,” said Rob Renner former PC MLA for Medicine Hat and environment minister. “He took his job very, very seriously. His leadership, particularly in his own community, will be severely missed.”

A man who was “dedicated” to the province and his constituents, and had “endless energy,” is how Adair Prouty, his assistant for eight years, described him.

“I felt very, very sad (on receiving the news). I knew how passionate he was about everything,” said Prouty. “It’s a loss to all of us.”

Mitzel was first elected a PC MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat in 2004, taking over from Lorne Taylor. He served two terms until 2012 when Wildrose candidate Drew Barnes was victorious. Mitzel was the constituency president during Taylor’s tenure as MLA.

“I knew him very well. He was such a decent man. He cared about people, cared about his family,” said Taylor. “A really honest, honourable person.”

Taylor last saw Mitzel in January when he learned he was battling throat cancer.

Mitzel lived with his wife, June Cole Mitzel, in Etzikom. The museum in Etzikom is a prime example of Mitzel’s dedication to public service.

“Len was so proud of that museum and it’s really a lasting legacy of his efforts,” said Renner.

Until 2012 Mitzel served as the Alberta Government’s director on the board of the Port-to-Plains association advocating for increased trade and transportation routes from Fort McMurray through to Texas and Mexico.

“His dream was to see Hwy 41 become a second north south corridor through Alberta,” said Renner. “Maybe that will come to be some day. I sure hope that when we look back at it in years to come that we will say, ‘Len Mitzel was the one that spearheaded that and worked so hard to see that happen.’”

Although Renner and Mitzel did not travel much together, to and from Edmonton, they were often at the same community events in this area.

“I give Len a lot of accolades for that because it was much more difficult often times for him to attend some of the Medicine Hat community events and then drive back to Etzikom than it was for me when I literally just had to go across the street,” said Renner.

Prior to serving as MLA Mitzel spent 15 years as councillor in the County of Forty Mile and for 12 of those years as reeve.

Last summer the Forty Mile Rail line began shipping grain from Foremost to Stirling, a project Mitzel was very much involved in. Addressing the needs of agricultural producers who felt they were not getting the service they needed. Capital was raised locally through shares and after many years of planning, the rail line was moving grain.

“He wanted to see that happen and it did happen,” said Prouty.

Politicians, journalists and others who worked with Mitzel expressed condolences on Twitter.

 


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