With just under six weeks to go before the municipal election, Lethbridge city council held its last scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
The marathon session in council chambers started off somewhat sentimental, with councillors and the mayor wishing each other well and thanking the community ahead of what was likely their last council meeting together after four years.
“I just want to wish each and every one of you, wherever your paths may go, all the best of luck,” Coun. Ryan Parker said in his opening remarks.
“It’s been an absolute honour to represent the citizens of Lethbridge in this form and in this venue,” Coun. Jeffrey Coffman said.
Coffman, who has served three terms on council dating back to 1995, is one of two councillors that have announced they are not seeking re-election, while Mayor Chris Spearman announced his retirement back in January.
Blaine Hyggen is running for mayor, while the remaining five councillors have not yet publicly confirmed their intentions for the Oct. 18 municipal election.
“It’s a 24-7, 365 job. It never ends,” Coffman said. “Whether you’re here, whether you’re at the grocery store shopping or out mowing your lawn, people will stop and talk to you.”
Coffman said some of his highlights include the change of the budget process and the process to hire city managers.
With at least a couple of empty seats to fill, Coffman said prospective candidates should know what they’re getting themselves into.
“Know your job, (understand) the relationship between the city manager and the organization, and always bring your A-game,” Coffman said.
“Dedicate yourself to the role (because) it’s a long four years, but you can accomplish a lot in that time.”
Rob Miyashiro, who is finishing his second consecutive term on council, is moving on from city council to seek opportunities at a provincial level.
“What I’m going to miss the most I think about council is working on some projects and getting things done with my colleagues,” he said. “I’ll miss being in the know about what goes on in the city.”
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Miyashiro said between having a spot on council and a full-time job outside of city hall, his last four years have been tiring.
“People need to know that council is not easy,” Miyashiro said. “People need to know that you do need to be prepared for everything. You need to be prepared for the amount of reading, the amount of public engagement.”
However, he feels the group accomplished some great things in the community during its time together.
“We’ve tried to do the right thing, especially for the people that don’t have a voice, and I’m really proud of some of that work that we’ve done,” Miyashiro said.
Spearman, who is also finishing his second term, tried to avoid sentimentality. Rather, he focused on some of the larger accomplishments of council.
“The ATB Centre is a tremendous legacy, the downtown park ‘n’ ride is a legacy, the work that we’ve done on the airport I think will be an economic stimulus legacy,” he explained.
“There have been a lot of legacy projects that have been approved by this council, and we got a lot of external funding to support those projects so the impact on taxpayers has been minimal.”
Spearman also expressed his wish that Lethbridge portrays a positive image to both residents and those outside the community.
“When I hosted 22 mayors in this city, they hadn’t heard good things about this city,” he said. “When they toured the city and saw all we had and all we were doing, they were very, very impressed.”
The municipal election takes place on Oct. 18, with advance voting available on Oct. 1.
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