After more than six years in municipal politics, Town Councillor Linda West has resigned.
West submitted her official letter of resignation to the Town office on April 11. As a result, ratepayers will be going to the polls in a by-election to fill the vacancy around the council table. West said her decision to resign wasn’t something she made with any degree of ease, and it was something she had been contemplating for the past three months.
“This was a decision that wasn’t made lightly, but I need to free up some time,” she said. “The past six years have flow by. It’s bitter sweet, but a person can only do so much in a day, and if you’re not good to yourself, then you can’t be good to anyone else.”
She said she loved her role as a councillor, and she feels bad for causing a by-election, but she said it wouldn’t cost taxpayers that much, and they’ll save on her salary.
“You just never know when your time is going to come,” she said. “I am really going to miss the people. I served on many boards and committees with many great people including GROWTH Alberta and Community Futures to name a few. I got to meet a lot of people.”
Unfortunately, she said, she will no longer be able to work with those committees as an elected official, but there have been too many things in the last little while that she has missed due to her commitments as a councillor. She needs to have a more flexible schedule, she said, and being a councillor is a big time commitment.
“The council has matters they have to deal with, but they’ll do just fine – someone will step up to the plate to fill the vacancy,” she said. “People are going to ask why did I even run in the first place, but the fact is no one knows when this time will come. I had full intentions of finishing this term, but I question what kind of value I would bring to the table if I constantly had this going through my mind. I am not interested in just filling a chair. I’m interested in contributing, and I can still do that, just in a different capacity.”
West said she first ran for municipal council because she thought she could make a difference in the community. Back then, she had plenty of time to focus on the many committees that were her responsibility, but things have changed, she said. In 2004 there were 1,614 voters, and she secured 804 votes, or 49 per cent; in 2007, there were 1,334 voters, and West received 701 votes, or 52 per cent; in 2010, there were 1,182 voters, and West received 721 votes, or 61 per cent.
“As a council, we’ve done well, and we’ve accomplished a lot,” she said. “ I have no regrets, and I think I was diligent in my duties as a councillor. The people have been great, and I always enjoyed when residents came up to me to discuss issues. It’s been really good.”
Schulz said he was very surprised when he learned of West’s resignation. He called her a very thorough and committed councillor, and he is sorry to see her go.
“I served with her for six years,” Schulz said, adding he will miss her attention to detail when dealing with this year’s budget.
Schulz said he looks forward to the by-election that will take place. It has to be held within 90 days of a resignation. If West had resigned within 18 months of the next municipal election, the Town would not have been required to host this by-election. Council will make a motion at its next meeting to set an election date.
“I think there will be a lot of interest,” Schulz said. “There are a lot of people in town who have a lot to offer, people who are interested in making sure Barrhead remains a clean, safe and healthy place in which to live.”
He said his councillors are excited to see who will put forth their name for the position, and he anticipates a very good choice for all Barrhead residents. Once the election date is set, anyone interested in running may pick up his or her nomination form. The cost for this by-election will be approximately the same as a full election.
“Hopefully, we get residents out to get informed and make an educated decision,” Schulz said.
West will continue her employment with the County of Barrhead, as she has been there for 31 years. She said she will keep a close eye on what’s happening at the Town.
“I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I’m happy with the decision, and it will take a while to adjust. I will remain busy in the meantime. I was a volunteer before I was elected, and if any opportunities arise, I will look at that.”
She said residents certainly haven’t heard the last from her, and she will be around.
“This was a service to the community, and it’s a great, great community,” she said. “Who knows, I could be back. The door’s always open, so we’ll see what happens.”