A by-election will be held next month to fill the vacant seat on Turner Valley’s town council.
The Town of Turner Valley is holding a byelection to replace former Coun. Barry Williamson Sept. 30 at the town office council chambers from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Williamson resigned from his position after being hired as the Town’s chief administrative officer in the spring.
An advanced poll will not be held, but a voting station will be set up at the Oilfields General Hospital in Black Diamond Sept. 30 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. for Turner Valley patients.
Williamson said he’s heard a few people talking about running for the vacant position.
“I have heard there is an expressed interest from more than one individual,” he said. “I expect there to be somewhat of a race, if you want to call it that.”
The numbers won’t be confirmed until nomination day on Sept. 2.
“We’ve had this happen before where an interest has been expressed and then when it comes time to pick up nomination packages they don’t necessarily get picked up,” he said. “Or there might be nomination packages picked up, but they don’t come in the day of submitting the final documents.”
Williamson served on council for nine years and suggests potential counilors attend upcoming council meetings in September to get an idea of what happens. There are no council meetings scheduled for August.
Williamson said the nomination form outlines rules, responsibilities and time commitments expected of councillors, but there is much more to know. Williamson wrote a handbook he published titled Small Town Politics – An Elected Official’s Companion.
“What I wrote about are the other things you don’t necessarily think about – economic development, governance, legislative elements,” he said.
Williamson said the Town will host orientation meetings This doesn’t make sense. for newly elected.
“I know council has already looked at their committees and boards and commission list that as an organizational requirement they have to do right after the election,” he said. “There will be an education around those committees and boards that are already in place to get some understanding of that and get placed accordingly.”
Williamson said the new councillor will go through a big learning curve as he or she begins to understand where the community is at with various issues including disaster recovery and mitigation, its business plan and finances.
“Generally for newly elected officials it’s trying to understand the dynamics of the chamber,” he said. “When you are in a council chamber the rules and procedures of how you conduct yourself is a bit of a learning curve. It’s one thing to see all that in writing, it’s another thing to actually practice it.”
Coun. Barry Crane, who was elected to council last fall, said the experience was quite overwhelming with the amount of work and learning involved.
“The amount of material that we need to read and the policies and procedures around committees and municipal protocols - you could list them forever,” he said.
It’s now been almost a year since Crane joined council.
“I’ve grown somewhat in the nature of the scope of work and what’s involved, but being on my committees with the (Foothills) Lions Club has helped prepare me for a lot of things,” he said. “It’s a constant learning adventure and you are never going to know it all. There is going to be something new and a different challenge every day.”
Crane said being a councillor means keeping an open mind.
“Don’t listen to rumours,” he said. “Try and find out as many facts as you can.”
Being a political figure also takes some getting used to, he said.
“You have to step up the bar a little bit,” he said. “The public eye is not an easy place to be.”
After almost a decade as a councillor, Williamson found one of the rewards is being a part of a group that worked hard to bring about positive change in the community.
“You are not doing it for the salary, that’s not the attraction,” he said. “The attraction is how to make a positive difference in the community. We often hear about the concerns expressed in the community and we would like to say if you have a lot of concerns you should put your hand up and get involved and contribute to doing something about it. One of the ways to do it is being on council.”