LETHBRIDGE: Country 95 News spoke with each member of Lethbridge city council, six months in to their new term. Last week, we counted down five reasons things are changing under the new group. Here's the recap.
Number 5: they have the experience to back them up
From the mayor to the newest-elected Lethbridge council member, seven out of nine aldermen have sat on council before.
Ald. Ryan Parker, with 12 consecutive years on council, is the longest serving of the group. While he may have the most council experience, e says the energy that five 'new recruits' bring to the table are helping him see things in a new way as well.
"Everyone says that we have a lot to teach the new people, but I think the new people have a lot to teach us - whether questioning, or looking at things with a different perspective," he says.
Having spent nine years on council, Ald. Tom Wickersham has seen several different groups come through. And while he recognizes this year's circumstances have slowed certain processes down, he's sees this group has a certain 'something.'
"I think it's taking us a little bit longer to gel and work together because of all the issues within the community,' says Wickersham. "But do I believe that we will be focused and we will accomplish great things for the city, I do. We've got a great group of people elected and I'm proud to be part of that group."
Tragic circumstances shadowed the earliest part of this council's term, when newly elected alderman Bob Babki died of a heart attack just days before the swearing-in ceremony. It was months before residents could elect a new alderman to take his empty seat - Jeff Coffman officially joined the new group February 1st. Now, just three months since they got started as a whole group, Jeff Carlson - who has one three-year term on council leading in to this round - is joining the call to move on.
"We've got some really great new council members with some fresh ideas and fresh ways of looking at things," he says. "I'm really excited to work with them on moving forward."
Number 4: they have a bucket list of new solutions
Whether they'll pass or fail the test of public support remains to be seen, but this group has several ideas on how to improve going forward.
Most council members, for example, support opening a debate on making council an official full-time job.
"When I was on council before and they said it was somewhere between 15 and 20 hours a week, that was probably true. But I would say it's more than a part-time job at this point," says Ald. Liz Iwaskiw, who first served on council from 2004-2007.
Mayor Rajko Dodic agrees it's time Lethbridge opened debate on the issue.
"When you look at the time commitment for the committees that they're on, and also the events that they will attend in the community, then it's definitely close, if not already a full-time position."
Ald. Joe Mauro adds that a full-time council could do more for this growing city.
"If you have six members of council full time, maybe pay them a little better so that they do the job 8 hours a day so they're here, they're doing their work, they're behind the scenes, asking questions, getting more information."
But this group's list of solutions is not just related to debates they're planning to have. It's also measures they're already taken. In response to criticism that the previous council held 'secret meetings,' this group has made efforts to change that public perception.
Ald. Liz Iwaskiw introduced an idea to publicly list the time and place of each private council meeting, typically held before each public council meeting, at the top of the agenda. Ald. Jeff Carlson joined the movement by changing the way the