by Phil Ambroziak

With a little more than two months before Meadow Lake residents head to the polls, members of city council are contemplating whether or not they will make another four-year commitment to the community.

“Officially, I’m still undecided,” remarked mayor Gary Vidal. “There are still a few things I’m trying to figure out before I make up my mind.”
Vidal has served on council since 2011 when he won a by-election following the departure of former mayor Darwin Obrigewitsch. In the 2012 municipal election, he held on to the role through acclamation.

“One of the biggest factors on my mind is what the other councillors are going to do,” Vidal continued. “I see this as a team thing rather than an individual thing, as I believe we currently have a fantastic group at the table.”

The mayor went on to say, even though each member of council has his or her own opinions on the various items up for discussion, they’re able to debate matters professionally enough that it leads to real results.

“My fear is to have a council that is more divided or which includes members with personal agendas,” he added. “That’s what happens in some other communities, and it seems to be a far less enjoyable experience for everyone involved.”

However, this doesn’t mean Vidal is opposed to new people throwing their hats into the race.

“Of course there are other people out there who would be excellent additions to council,” he said. “Again, my fear is we would go from a very proactive group of people to something very different.”

Vidal went on to say, however, he should know what his plan is by the time the call for nominations opens Sept. 1.

Meanwhile, one veteran councillor is happy to return.

“Definitely,” stated councillor Curtis Paylor when asked if he would be seeking re-election. “I’m pleased to announce I will run again for what will be my fourth consecutive term on council. If you really enjoy something, you do it. For me, council continues to meet that need and I look forward to continuing to help build our community.”

In the last four years, Paylor said the current council has established a vision for the community in terms of both short and long-term goals, adding much has been accomplished through the group’s ability to work well as a team.

“The completion of the west service road was a big one recently, but it’s difficult to pinpoint just one thing,” he said. “A big focus moving forward will be continuing to secure funding for our portion of costs associated with the new long-term care facility.”

Also planning to seek re-election is councillor Conrad Read. He was elected for the first time in 2012.

“It’s been a very good experience and we’ve made a lot of significant progress on things,” Read said. “I’d like to see that continue.”

A highlight for Read has been efforts to improve the city’s overall water quality through the decommissioning of the municipal water tower and the development of a new and improved lift station.

“We’ve caught up on some of the aging infrastructure, so now hopefully we can continue with some important road upgrades,” he commented.

Meanwhile, the newest member to council is in the same boat as the mayor. Kim Chiverton, who was elected last year in a by-election, said he’s still trying to decide if he wants to continue in the role or not.

“It’s a good council with good people, but I want to make sure I can make the commitment and do a job appropriate to the position,” Chiverton said.
Chiverton praised Vidal’s leadership ability, and also said he’d like to see more people consider putting their names forward.

Also on the fence at the moment is councillor Merlin Seymour.

“I’m still thinking it over – it’s not 100 per cent yet,” he said.

Seymour was also elected for the first time in 2012, and said the last four years have been productive thanks to the hiring of Diana Burton as city manager, as well as the many projects the city has tackled.

“There are still other projects I’d like to see go forward and, being a part of them wouldn’t be a bad thing,” Seymour added. “One of the reasons I might not run again however, is the amount of time it takes to do a good job as a councillor. You don’t just come to a meeting at 7 p.m. and go home by 9 p.m. There’s a lot more to it. But, I’ll know by Sept. 1 what I’ll do.”

The same goes for deputy-mayor Annette Klassen.

“I haven’t made a decision yet, but looking at my personal situation I’m quite busy with full-time employment, I recently joined the board of directors of Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Saskatchewan and our second grandchild will be arriving soon,” Klassen explained. “I also feel new blood with new ideas can be a good thing, although the current council does have an excellent mix of knowledge and no personal agendas.”

Thus far, Layne Shkopich is the only councillor who has decided not to seek a second term.

“It all comes down to work,” Shkopich said. “Since we expanded our company with the acquisition of Lamon Disposal, I haven’t been able to fully put my political cap on.”

However, Shkopich did say he enjoyed his one term, adding there’s a lot to learn when you hold public office.

“It’s a big eye-opener,” he said.

The 2016 municipal election is scheduled for Oct. 26.