ATHABASCA — It was a clean sweep of the former council and a clean start for the nine fresh faces around the Athabasca County council table -- an opportunity the new reeve hopes to capitalize on.
At the organizational meeting Nov. 1, interim CAO Dawn Phillips swore in all the council members before nominations were opened for the positions of reeve and deputy reeve, with Div. 4 Coun. Brian Hall and Div. 3 Coun. Ashtin Anderson being elected respectively by acclamation.
"As we begin our term today, it seems hard to believe but only two weeks ago was the election and that we met really for the first time only a week ago,” Hall said after he moved to the head of the table. “So, I hope that we can go forward from today respecting the strengths and experiences each person brings to the table, learning together and working together as equals, to do what we were elected to do, with cooperation, mutual respect and putting the best interests of the county first. Collectively and individually, we set the tone for the entire organization."
Hall added the confidence the rest of council demonstrated by electing him was humbling and trust is something people loan to you, so you must work hard to maintain it and he is looking forward to working closely with rest of council over the term.
In an interview Nov. 4, Hall said he is conscious of noting the difference between the role of reeve or councillor is simply the reeve is a councillor with more duties but not a more senior position.
“To be clear there are many capable people who would do an equally good job and this was the request from the table, and I am happy and honoured to speak on their behalf,” he said.
Some of his previous professional experiences may help him feel confident in chairing the meetings and being the point of contact too, previously being a bank manager and now a private business owner.
“I've had some different experiences that many of the council have had, but also, across the board, there's a really great depth of experience in all the councillors and it's all different,” he said. “And I think that's one of the strengths of the current group, that everybody brings good experiences to the table that will benefit our decision making and I don't think any one set of experiences is more valuable than the other. I think they're different in a beneficial way.”
Hall said as the councillors were getting acquainted, questions arose as to who was prepared to take over the seat and while nothing was guaranteed, he had been asked so contemplated what extra challenges it would bring as he runs a full-time business and accepted the nomination knowing the added pressure it would bring.
“It certainly is a big commitment and it's an honour to be asked by your colleagues to be their voice in the community and with the media, with other levels of government, whether it's provincially or our colleagues in the neighbouring municipalities so it sort of is something to think about," he said. “I have been up until now working full time, but will be reducing my schedule to manage my commitments as a counsellor and reeve.”
He is also aware he is taking the seat, along with the rest of the council, after a particularly contentious last few months among the previous reeve and council but hopes with new faces comes new energy and new ideas, choosing to focus on the future.
“This council seems very committed to looking to procedures and being open and transparent to doing business at the council table,” said Hall.