NEW START - Five new City councillors were elected during Monday’s municipal election, with only one incumbent from the previous council remaining. Mark Weber/Lacombe Express

Lacombe City council welcomes five newcomers to the table

In this election, 3,419 people out of 10,000 eligible voters cast ballots - a 34% voter turnout

Lacombe City council will look remarkably different moving ahead post-election, with only one incumbent – Rueben Konnik – remaining.

Otherwise, newcomers Don Gullekson, Thalia Hibbs, Cora Hoekstra, Jonathan Jacobson and Chris Ross were all elected to sit at the council table.

“I will say that I was hearing a desire for change; but I’m not sure I heard it quite like this,” said Hoekstra, referring to the results. “I assumed there might be two or three incumbents with three new.

“But I was thrilled with how many people in the community did stand up and say, ‘I’d like to run.’ So the citizens did really have a robust slate of people to choose from,” she said.

“I’m also humbled by the very convincing number of votes I did receive.”

Hoekstra said she believes residents wanted a whole variety of voices around the table, with a mix of ages, both women and men, a variety of occupations. “It’s very exciting.”

Jacobson said he was hearing a desire for change while he was on the campaign trail.

“When I was knocking on doors for the last four weeks, the two things I heard the most were about property taxes, and there was also a really strong current of a desire for change,” he explained.

He said he’s looking forward to getting to work with his new colleagues – getting to know them better and understanding what everybody’s strengths are as they move forward into their mandate, and how they can work best as a team.

“(It’s also about) getting together and synthesizing what everybody heard on the campaign trail and really getting more of a grasp of what the citizens want and making a plan for implementing what’s possible,” he said.

Thalia Hibbs said that she was hearing that people were really wanting to see change.

“They were really resonating with the ideas that I was bringing forward – so I do think there was an overall desire for things to be shaken up a little,” she said.

“It’s an amazing group of people that Lacombe has elected, so it’s really going to be amazing just to get to know all of those individuals better and form our team going forward.

“There’s going to be a lot of learning there,” she said, adding her several years of school board experience and leadership will also be a benefit as well.

“I really do like working together with people and getting them to reach their potential so that’s probably one of the biggest things that I’m looking forward to.”

Chris Ross said he is excited to start exploring opportunities with economic development for Lacombe in particular.

“I was relieved, and very, very excited,” he said about learning the news he had garnered enough votes to land a seat on council.

“I’m sure it will be an eye-opener,” he said, adding he looks forward to the learning processes that will go along with it.

“I’m always of the competitive way where I don’t want to lose out to surrounding communities,” he said, adding that it’s a part of a successful business sense to be on the competitive side. “I’d love to start calling corporations myself, but you have to work as a team, and respect administration’s due process,” he added.

“I knocked on about 1,000 doors and took the time to engage in conversations, and it was extremely consistent – about a 95 per cent average – that people were saying, ‘Yes, we need to have something of a change; some fresh ideas’. That was consistent,” he said.

Don Gullekson noted that he heard the theme of a desire for change during his campaign as well.

“There’s lot of change with the CEO also – we will have a new one again,” he said, referring to the departure of Dion Pollard.

“People did say they wanted change, and that they wanted the City to become more flexible when it comes to our development,” he said.

“For example, even with renovations and things like that for commercial lots, to be be more helpful – I think that’s the biggest thing right now. I think people are being chased away, is what they are saying.

“So change was the biggest theme for sure. Let’s get in there and see if we can make it more attractive, and more desirable for people to come here,” he added, referring to development and business growth.

“I think it’s something for us to address.”

Meanwhile, he’s pleased with the mix of people on council – several new perspectives are onboard and he anticipates a positive, strong dynamic. “It’s going to be a real change in how things are done in council I think.

“It’s going to be very exciting, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Lacombe also landed a new mayor in Grant Creasey following Monday’s election.

According to the unofficial results, he garnered 1,964 votes compared to 1, 417 for his competitor Peter Bouwsema.

news@lacombeexpress.com

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