Two new members and three familiar ones will form Irricana’s next Town council, after the municipality confirmed the results of the election on Oct. 19.
In a field of 10 candidates, the unofficial results confirmed Kim Schmaltz, Ton van Arendonk, Frank Friesen, Lisa McAree, and Debbie Day were the five residents who garnered the most votes in the Oct. 18 election. Schmaltz, Friesen and Day were incumbents, while Van Arendonk and McAree will be council’s newcomers.
“I’m still having the issue of it sinking in,” said Van Arendonk. “I didn’t expect it, to be honest, having that high [number of votes].
“It will be interesting to see what we can accomplish as a new team.”
The only incumbent to not retain his seat was Jim Bryson. Other candidates in Irricana included Dominic Kirchner, Madison Glass, Nathaniel Fleming and Martin Braun.
Irricana's previous mayor, Friesen, said he was glad to see some incumbents re-elected, but added it will be good to have some fresh perspectives as well.
“I think that's critical – it would have been disastrous if the whole council was wiped up and we had to start from scratch again,” he said. “We made a lot of progress with the previous council, so I think that's fantastic.
“I think new blood and ideas are always a good thing. The key is we keep the residents our number-one priority and focus.”
Van Arendonk, a first-time candidate for council, said he hopes the new council will be able to provide more transparency than the previous one. He said another of his focuses will be increasing opportunities for adolescents in Irricana.
“It’s more about the age group of 12 and older, because for the younger ones, we have multiple parks in our town,” he said. “But that youth group of 12 and older, we have basically nothing in town.”
He added one project he is working on already – and hopes to make further inroads with now that he is on council – is lobbying higher levels of government to help secure funds for a skate park in the community.
“I already got a reply from our government that I was able to get $60,000, but now I have to find matching funds,” he claimed. “I’m working on that. If that’s going to happen and we get that in, we should be able to start building something in the spring.”
Similar results in Beiseker
Just 10 kilometres north of Irricana, the Village of Beiseker also held its municipal election on Oct. 18, with residents voting in five members of council.
After the votes had been counted, three incumbents regained their seats. Incumbent Warren Wise garnered the most votes with 164, incumbent Nikki King followed in second with 149, and newcomer Les Spurgeon came in third with 147.
“I felt good about it,” said Wise, who was Beiseker’s last mayor. “I was considering not running, just because of my age, but decided I’d throw my hat in the ring again.
“The last election we had, there was no election – we had an acclaimed council. I was worried we’d run into the same thing again. As it turned out, we did have enough people running and I ended up getting the most votes.”
Rounding out the next council will be newcomer Trevor Snyder, who collected 126 votes on election night, and incumbent Karen Ursu, who managed 122 votes.
The only Beiseker incumbent to not win their seat back was Victor Lemky, who came in sixth place, just one vote shy of Ursu. The other candidate who did not win a seat was Nate Motz, who ended the night with 96 votes to his name.
“I came up just short in the municipal election... but I honestly couldn’t have lost to a finer group of people,” wrote Lemky on Facebook after the results were confirmed. “I have enjoyed my experiences the past four years. Congratulations to all the winners and wishes for continued success in guiding the Village through whatever comes along in the next four [years].”
Wise said he is excited to work with a combination of new and familiar faces around the council table.
“We’ve had a fairly static council for a fair number of years,” he said. “We got along very well and have done some good things, but getting some new blood on council is not a bad thing at all. I’m looking forward to working with them and getting some new ideas.”
According to the Village of Beiseker, the new council will be sworn in during an organizational meeting on Oct. 26. The Village’s mayor will also be selected that evening, and will be appointed by a council vote.
Irricana's council will also be sworn in Oct. 26 and a mayor will be appointed by a council vote.