New aldermen settling in after whirlwind two months
By: Matt Durnan
| Posted: Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 12:23 pm
Airdrie’s newest aldermen, Candice Kolson and Darrell Belyk have been City council members for almost three months now, after being elected on Oct. 21, and both agree it has been a whirlwind experience.
Kolson had a busy debut on council as she sat on the Finance Advisory Committee, spending numerous late nights deliberating over the City’s budget that was approved on Dec. 16.
“It’s been very busy, we had some late meetings and weekend meetings but it’s been really good,” said Kolson. “It’s definitely something that I’m happy I decided to do.”
In her time away from council, Kolson manages the Airdrie Farmer’s Market and has experience with budgets, but says that a City budget is on an entirely different level.
“It was a pretty steep learning curve for me, but we have some great community members who sit on that board and they made it a lot less overwhelming,” said Kolson.
Belyk was voted on to council last October in his second time running, and though he said his first few months as an alderman have been quite taxing, he felt prepared to take on the challenge.
“I went through the campaign and election process in 2010, and I had spoken with Aldermen Kelly Hegg and Fred Burley and they gave me a lot of good advice on what to expect with this job,” said Belyk. “It was definitely a lot to take on in the first few months with the budget but things are starting to calm down a bit now and I’m starting to settle in.”
For Belyk, the settling in process has been almost surreal, as he says he’s still trying to come to grips with the fact that he really is a part of Airdrie City council.
“My inbox is a lot more full now,” he said. “What you don’t realize coming in is that you’re an alderman everyday and everywhere you go. I have people coming up to me and saying ‘hi’ and asking me questions a lot more than I thought I would, I’m still trying to grasp that concept.”
Kolson says she has also been taken off guard by the response she has seen from the public.
“I had never really specifically placed how important the job we do is to other people,” said Kolson.
“It’s really neat to see how excited some people are and how closely they’re following what we do.”
Both Belyk and Kolson are finding their way in council meetings in terms of when and where to speak up and when to listen.
“City staff has been great with providing us with information on everything we discuss so that we’re well informed before making decisions,” said Kolson. “For me, it’s important to really study and know every angle on something before I contradict it, but if something stands out to me, I’ll certainly speak up.”
Belyk has enjoyed working alongside his new colleagues, while soaking up as much information as he can.
“They (council) have been great to work with and I’ve enjoyed learning more about them and the job,” he said.
“Peter (Brown) has been so helpful,” said Kolson.
“He’s been great about keeping an open door and being as accessible to myself and council as he is with the public.”