WESTLOCK – Ralph Leriger will get his political ‘three-peat’ and serve another four years as mayor of the Town of Westlock.
It’s the second-straight acclamation for Leriger, who received his first four-year mandate in 2013 when he claimed 67 per cent of the mayoral vote to defeat then-challengers Robin Brett and Marjorie Sterling-Miller. If he serves the full term to 2025, Leriger will extend the run of three-term mayors in Westlock to 30 years, joining Bruce Lennon, 2004-2013, and Shirley Morie, 1995-2004 — until 2013, municipal council terms were only three years in length.
“We get a lot of positive feedback and I think that the one thing people like the most is that we (council and administration) work well together. And for that I’m happy and grateful that the people in the community see it the same way,” said Leriger Sept. 21, just 24-hours after nominations closed.
“I’m energized by the community and what’s possible — I’m really looking forward to it. Leadership isn’t about authority, it’s about servitude.”
Looking forward, Leriger is the only council incumbent guaranteed a seat at the table come election day, Oct. 18, as there are eight men and women vying for the six council seats. Of that group there are three incumbents and five first-time candidates — three other incumbents, David Truckey, Clem Fagnan and John Shoemaker, all announced earlier they weren’t running.
“I’m pretty confident in my ability to make sure that people feel that they’re included and part of the team and part of something important and that they contribute. I’m also confident in my ability to build another strong team that works well together,” Leriger continued. “It’s a good thing to have some turnover because at some point people do move on. Diversity of opinion is how you get to good decision making.”
Leriger said they’ll be no shortage of obstacles for the municipality in the short and long term, big and small.
“There are some challenges that remain and some that are coming. COVID isn’t going away and provincial and federal politics are interesting. In our next council term there will be a provincial election, which doesn’t just create challenges for municipalities … in today’s polarized world it creates havoc for our communities,” he continued. “I’m still dumbfounded that the provincial and federal parties and politicians weren’t able to elevate their game to find a way to be bi-partisan during the COVID pandemic.
“As an Albertan we shouldn’t be satisfied and as Canadians we shouldn’t be satisfied. Hyper-partisanship is killing us and we should expect collaboration and meaningful conversation between the varying levels of government.”
And for Leriger that’s always been the allure of municipal politics — the ability to get things done.
“Those two levels (provincial and federal) of government are predicated on opportunism. That’s why I love municipal politics so much — it’s about problem solving,” he said. “I think with what we’ve created here we’re up for the challenges over the next four years, so it will be interesting and exciting.”