Mayors deciding if they’ll run for re-election
July 14, 2020, 1:48 am
Rob Paul - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
It’s an election year in Saskatchewan and this fall residents of the province will be able to exercise the right to vote that democracy gives them.
Municipal election day will be Monday, November 9 for all cities, towns, villages, and RMs across Saskatchewan.
It may still be four months away, but mayors throughout the area are beginning to make decisions on whether or not they’ll run for re-election this fall while reflecting on what a strange year 2020 has been with the Covid-19 pandemic as Saskatchewan continues to reopen.
Having served two terms as mayor after six years as a councillor, Moosomin Mayor Larry Tomlinson has yet to make a final decision on if he’ll run again this fall.
“Honestly, it’s too early to know,” he said. “I haven’t really thought about it. I’ve got lots of things I’d still like to see done, especially in infrastructure. Whether I hang on for the next term to see if it gets better or not, I guess I’ll have to see.
“We’ve done a lot of work, but there’s a lot to be done yet. I’d like to see the rest of the infrastructure fixed in this town.
“That’s been what I’ve concentrated on the last few years,” he said. “I think it got left too long with nothing done and now it’s just piling up and it needs to be done. I’d like to see a lot more of it done. Whether I hang on to do it or not, I guess that’s another question.
“If I do hang on, and I may hang on, we’ll see,” he said. “I’ve just got lots I’d like to see done and the only way it’ll ever get done is if I hang on and do it.”
Tomlinson credits the town staff for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic that has made a tough situation much easier.
“It’s been a little different and difficult at times,” he said. “The crew has been really good. We’ve got a really good public works crew and a good office staff. They’ve all been really good and it’s actually been fairly easy to manage and they’re doing lots of work. That’s all I can ask for.”
Although he’s unsure if he’ll run for re-election, Tomlinson says, he does want to ensure that Moosomin continues to develop.
“Moosomin is considered a little bit of a hub,” he said. “And we’ve got to keep growing it that way.”
With nine years as a councillor under his belt, a by-election in 2018 led to Esterhazy Mayor Grant Forster taking over as mayor and he says he still has more to accomplish as he plans to run again this year.
“I definitely will be running for re-election,” he said. “I’ve only had not quite two years yet in this term, so it’s still fairly new, but I have full intentions to be running again.
“When I ran for election originally, I just wanted to help bring the town back around. We had gone through some struggles with different things going on. I felt we needed some guidance and leadership, which I felt I could provide.
“I think in the two years we’ve made some progress, but we have a ways to go yet. There’s still a few things that we need to take care of and we need to bring ourselves back to where the town is functioning well and without issue. We’re pretty good, we’re almost there, but we’re not quite there.
I’ve just got to continue on because I think I’m able to help and get things done,” he said. “We have a good future in this town and I have some ideas of where we need to go and I just want to hopefully see that through. That’s my intention.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a bizarre experience, says Forster, but he’s proud of the way the residents of Esterhazy have responded to the precautions.
“It’s been a little bit easier than I anticipated,” he said. “People have reacted well to all the regulations we’ve been given. I mean, yeah there’s some that don’t understand and need to ask questions to find out why things are being done. But for the most part people have been very very good and it’s just made it that much easier for us to continue.
“We’ve done what we’ve had to do because of the regulations. We had to do some unpopular things, like shutting down facilities, but people understood that and were willing to work through it.
“From our standpoint, I think we’ve done well as a town and we weren’t impacted as badly as other places which helped us. It really wasn’t as big of a concern in the end from a municipal standpoint.”
After serving nine years as a councillor and 20 years as mayor, Rocanville Mayor Daryl Fingas says this will be his last term as mayor and he won’t be running this year.
“I don’t plan on running again,” he said. “I’ve done 29 years on council, it’s time. It’s been good, it’s a good pastime that keeps me busy. Different things come up and I’ve always been interested in all the things that go on around town, especially recreation. There’s been expansions at the mine, and lots of stuff going on in town that comes up. It’s just been something to keep me busy.
“For sure I will miss it. I hadn’t planned on running in the last election. I had said I was going to step down and on the last day of nominations there weren’t any for the mayor and we were short on the council. So, I approached Stan Langley and we talked it over and said we’d run again, but only for a year or two and now it’s four years later. Hopefully this time there will be nominations.”
With Covid-19 not hitting Southeast Saskatchewan as hard as other sections of Canada, Fingas says, things have felt as close to normal as they can during a pandemic.
“It hasn’t been too bad to be honest,” he said. “There’s been a lot of things that had to close down, so we haven’t had to deal with a lot of stuff. But now it’s slowly opening, we’re probably about the same as every other town in the area, we’re just slowly getting back into things.
“The government has allowed us to open things and it’s really getting back to normal. The whole area it almost seems like normal, but you just have to be careful, wash your hands, and practice physical distancing.”
It’s been 27 years on council for Redvers Mayor Garry Jensen, having served as a councillor since 1993 and then serving a four-year term as mayor, but he says he won’t be running for re-election this fall.
“After 27 years on council, it’s time for someone new,” he said. “I won’t be running for re-election this year.”
“I wanted to see the town grow. Our kids grew up here, went to school here, and some of them still live here. You just want to see your community grow. I take pride in this whole council and the employees.”
For the most part, Jensen says, although different, being mayor during Covid-19 hasn’t been stressful thanks to those around him.
“It’s been good, we have a good council and staff,” he said. “Everybody has done their part so it’s been good. It’s been different, but it’s not like we’re in Winnipeg or Regina or some of those bigger centres.”
With 20 years on council and two stints as mayor (1997-2000, 2014-present), Carlyle Mayor Wayne Orsted isn’t sure if he’ll run for re-election this fall.
“I haven’t decided yet,” he said. “Right now I’m leaning towards not running, but we’re still a few months away.”
“I’ve spent 20 years on council when this fall comes. I’m thinking it’s time for somebody else to take over the seat.”
The Covid-19 pandemic may not have hit Saskatchewan like other places, but its impact has been felt, says Orsted.
“It’s still impacted the community with the amount of businesses that have had to close down,” he said. “Even though it hasn’t hit the area, it’s still impacted the employment situation and we’re just trying to get through that.”
Mayors of additional towns have been contacted. Not all were available for comments this week. Watch for their comments in next week’s World-Spectator.