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Former Barrhead councillor seeks Athabasca seat

Edith Yuill is one of nine council hopefuls in Athabasca
Edie Yuill
Edith Yuill is hoping her experience in government will be a big selling point for voters when they go to the polls Oct. 18.

ATHABASCA – Experienced, dedicated and progressive — those are three qualities Edith Yuill is hoping voters will take into account as they go to the polls Oct. 18 to decide who to elect to Athabasca town council. 

Yuill is one of nine candidates to put their names forward for one of the six councillor seats around the table, and her experience working for the provincial government and both municipal governments in Barrhead over the years is going to be hard to match by the other candidates. 

Yuill recently retired from her accounting position with Alberta Transportation after nearly 40 years, but before that she also did numbers for the town and County of Barrhead. And during her time there was elected to town council several times but was unsuccessful in her bid for mayor. 

“It's in my blood,” she said in an interview Sept. 21, noting her grandfather was the last mayor of the Village of Barrhead, and the first mayor of the Town of Barrhead, as well as MP for the area for two terms, running under the Social Credit banner. 

Her father was also very interested in politics but was never elected to office, she said, and two of her relatives have served as mayor in Onoway and Swan Hills. 

Stepping away from her career, doesn’t mean she hasn’t been busy though — her last day on the job was June 30, and the next day she was volunteering at the Magnificent River Rats Festival. She intends to stay busy, and to continue to contribute to the community, whether she is elected or not. 

“A few people have asked me if I would be interested in running, they thought it would be a good idea, because I have experience, and one of the people that asked me was a little nervous that this could be a fledgling council again, and with a little bit of experience I might be able to keep it steady,” she said. 

One thing that comes with that experience is the knowledge that a single councillor is just one part of a larger team. 

“I'm not naive, in my first election, I was very naive in thinking that I could change whatever I wanted,” she said. “I know that I'm just one vote out of seven. So, unless you're good at politicking, or discussing these things with others and swaying people's minds, you're not going to change the world.” 

She does see a few issues that have a large impact on the community and need to be resolved. 

RCMP funding is one of them.  

“I'm concerned about the province downloading to municipalities,” she said.  "I'd like to maintain the RCMP until I know exactly what the province has in mind because I'm afraid that our current premier has high hopes and high aspirations.” 

Working to keep university jobs in Athabasca is another priority for Yuill as is attracting medical professionals to the region. 

“I would like to keep as many physical jobs in Athabasca as possible … That's an empty, beautiful, beautiful grounds and buildings, and it's just heartbreaking,” she said, referring to the Athabasca University campus. 

The homelessness situation in the community and the link to criminal activity is another area Yuill would like to examine as well. 

And while there are issues, there’s also a lot going for Athabasca, and she would like to be a part of helping to shape its future. 

“There’s a lot I love about this little town. I chose to retire here and not go back to Barrhead, because I like it,” she said.

About the Author: Chris Zwick

Athabasca Advocate editor
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