WESTLOCK – Well wishes, laughter and even a mic drop marked the final Town of Westlock council meeting for Clem Fagnan, David Truckey and John Shoemaker.
And while Fagnan, 21 years, Truckey, 17 years, and Shoemaker, eight years, all previously announced their retirement, there are no guarantees for incumbents Curtis Snell, eight years, Murtaza Jamaly, six years, and Randy Wold, four years, who have been joined by five other men and women seeking the six open council seats. Only mayor Ralph Leriger is assured his seat at the head of the council table as he faced no challengers and has been acclaimed for a third, four-year term.
“We’ve been a tight group and I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to everyone in this room on how it’s gone, so I won’t even try. We’ve had good times, great times, sad times and hard times,” said Leriger at council’s Sept. 27 meeting, the final one before the Oct. 18 election.
“But I find now with an election looming that I’m really looking forward to the next iteration of council and building a strong team. We’re going to face hard challenges right from the get-go as all communities will. But I’m excited and am looking forward to it.”
Shoemaker, who gave kudos to administration, department heads and even the media, said he’s enjoyed serving.
“I’ll miss you guys. We had a good run and I feel we did our best over the last eight years during some very difficult times,” said Shoemaker, who singled out finance director Julia Seppola and municipal clerk Annette Boissonnault for their service.
“Thank all the employees in your departments for their hard work over the years on behalf of the town. They don’t get the thanks and recognition they deserve from the general public.”
And while Fagnan also thanked council and admin, who he called the strongest he’s worked with in his two-decade municipal political career, he also said he’s most proud of the progress they’ve made with Westlock County over the past two terms.
“It has been real and it has been fun. And it has been fun more often than not. All the councils and mayors I’ve served with have all had strengths and of course weakness. But out of all of them this has been the strongest council. We have strong leadership and strong members,” said Fagnan.
“And during all the years I was on council my biggest hope was that we could erase the lines between the town and the county to get along. I think we’ve taken great strides in the last eight years to get that done and hopefully it continues.”
Jamaly went on to say that although councillors didn’t always agree, they were able to come to consensus and push forward for the betterment of the community.
“John, I can’t think of one person that I disagree with more, but also respect as much as I do. Thank you for everything you’ve done,” said Jamaly. “We’ve disagreed on a lot of items, but we’ve always been able to shake hands at the end of it and I’ve always appreciated that. You’ll be missed.”
Jamaly also said Truckey’s knowledge on council will be missed, while Wold chimed in “and the Dilly Bars.” Truckey made the motion to accept the council reports then pretended his battery was failing on his tablet and dropped out of the Zoom meeting. He quickly rejoined the meeting to laughter from his fellow councillors as he explained that previously he had to attend a meeting electronically when it “was very new and it wasn’t so smooth and batteries weren’t what they are today and it ended abruptly.”
“So here we are today at the end of the eight years and unfortunately I had to attend electronically tonight so I could not resist that there could be battery trouble yet again,” he said to laughs.
Jamaly also gave a special shout to Fagnan, who is now running for the Evergreen Catholic seat in town. That night Leriger informed council that Fagnan will be receiving a 2021 Alberta Urban Municipalities Association’s Distinguished Service Award which will be handed out Nov. 18 — Fagnan was nominated for the honour by council back in June.
“You’ve been here for the right reasons and always been forward looking. I respect the wisdom that I’ve gained from you over the years and appreciate all you’ve done for your community,” said Jamaly.