Most current members of Weyburn's city council will be running in this fall's municipal election, with both experienced and newer councillors running again, plus one new candidate announced so far.
Meantime, the most experienced councillor, Bill Rudachyk, will not be running as he and wife Dona will be leaving Weyburn to move to Warman, to be closer to family.
The nomination period opened on Wednesday, and will close in two weeks' time, on Wednesday, Sept. 19. If there are enough candidates, an election will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Mayor Debra Button is seeking another term, and so far no other candidate has stepped forward for this position.
Describing the position of mayor as her "dream job", Button said she wakes up every day "jazzed" that she gets to go to work as the city's top leader. "This is fun for me; there are very few days when I go home stressed out from the job."
"This is a passion for me. I get immense joy when someone comes in and wants to do some development or open a new business in the city. I feel pride in working for the community, and I know I'm not ready to quit," she said in an interview.
In her last two terms as mayor over the last six years, Button feels council is much better in terms of openness and accountability, pointing to the full and open availability of all test results on the city's water supply as an example of this, noting this kind of information was not available prior to this year's episode of the boil-water advisory.
An accomplishment the mayor is proud of is having two years in a row with a zero increase in taxes, but maintaining the full slate of services for all city residents and businesses.
Also, the mayor feels the District Planning Commission was and is a worthwhile endeavour which has helped improve cooperation between the City and RM of Weyburn, especially in planning matters.
Among the veterans who are returning as candidates is Dick Michel, who now has 12 years of experience on council, and Rob Stephanson, who has now served about 16 years as a councillor.
Michel said if he is elected, this will be his fifth term on council, and he feels he still has the passion and vision to continue serving on council.
"What I would like to see is continued consultation for the twinning of Highway 39. This is a long-term process; the wheels are turning, but not very quickly," said Michel, adding he doesn't want to give up on it yet.
Affordable housing is another issue the city needs to address, noting that the city has "made some headway on it, but we've got miles to go", and also there needs to be more presence of police in the city's schools, especially at the elementary level.
"I would like to see a joint effort between the police service and education system, to promote respect for authority at an early age," said Michel.
For his part, Stephanson is excited about the District Planning Commission, which is now going into its third year.
"We're making some real good progress, so I'd like to be able to stay with that; there are some key things we'd still like to get finished," he said.
In addition, as a member of the Weyburn Police Commission, Stephanson has just been chosen as one of two delegates from Saskatchewan for the Canadian Association of Police Boards, a new responsibility he would like to commit to.
"There are things I'd like to see us doing as a police service," he added, going on to note that managing the city's growth is also an important aspect for him as a councillor.
"I'm quite happy with the growth we've seen; I think we've managed it rather well. I won't say it's been perfect, because it hasn't been, but we've seen unprecedented growth. It's an exciting time in Weyburn as we start to work with outside developers, which should help things go better," he said, adding that the city can't keep relying just on their own staff to do everything, such as preparation of new lots for development.
"A new hospital will also be a high priority in the next 10 years or less, I hope," said Stephanson.
In reference to the one departure from council that he knows about, he said, "There's lots to do, so it's important we have some new people who will come forward to be on council."
Two-term councillor Nancy Styles will also stand again as a councillor, as will the "rookie" of council, Winston Bailey. The other "rookie", Andy Broccolo, has not said whether he is running again, and has not responded to requests for an interview.
In stating she wants to run for her third term, Styles said one of the aspects she most enjoys about being on council is the work she's been able to do on the Parks board.
"We're doing not too bad considering the lack of funds; parks seems to be on the lower rung of the ladder for funding," said Styles, adding her goal is to see the Tatagwa Parkway paths extend all the way around the city.
She noted her first term on council was largely spent learning how everything works, and even through the second term, she was learning about who all the key people are in relation to the various committees she sits on, including people to be lobbied on given issues or portfolios.
"I'm proud of the fact the city is in good financial shape, even with the projects we've been doing. I think that's an important issue," said Styles.
Winston Bailey will be standing for his first full term, after winning his seat in the byelection held to replace Dave Craigen on council and coming on mid-term.
"City council is always active, even at the end of the term. There are certain things that are just ongoing," he said, adding his short time on council so far has been very educational as to how civic government works.
There are issues he wants the city to work on, in particular the development of new city lots, for which the city will be increasing development fees.
The development fees were $40,000 per acre, and as of Sept. 1st the fees went up to $60,000, and on Jan. 1 will increase again to $80,000.
"We have one of the highest development fees for a city of our size; it's going to hurt growth again. We've got to put a housing plan in place, working with various agencies to create a housing development plan," said Bailey, adding this will particularly make affordable housing an impossibility in this city.
Referring back to his start on council, Bailey said the mayor, council and staff have all been extremely helpful and patient with him, especially the mayor, as he's learned about the procedures of city government.
A new candidate who will be running in this election is Connie Nightingale, a 32-year-old wife and working mother of two who wants to make a difference and contribute back to the community.
She noted she lived on South Hill for five years as a youth, moved away, and then made the decision to return to Weyburn with her husband to raise her family here.
One of the issues that she wants to deal with as a candidate is that of housing, saying, "The average cost of a starter home was out of my reach. It has taken me three years to create a comfortable home for my family, and in this city, I believe that this is an issue we have to address if we want to attract hard-working families to this community."
She added she brings the perspective of an under-represented demographic to council, namely that of the average working parent, a person who also has strong opinions and views on how things should go.
"I believe in transparency, and when voters go to the polls, they should ask, 'what does this person have to gain by making it onto council?' My answer is, this is a community I've chosen to raise my children in, and I want to raise them in the best community that I can," she said.
Departing councillor Bill Rudachyk said he leaves with "no regrets" for what he's been able to accomplish in his 21 years on council.
"It's been without question a privilege and a pleasure to have been given the opportunity to serve the people of Weyburn for 21 of the 40 years I've been in this city," he said.
Rudachyk strongly urges anyone considering running to take the step and put their name in, but to make sure they're not just running on one issue.
He is proud the city has been able to rejuvenate its recreational infrastructure, such as the outdoor pool and two arenas, and notes there is still a lot that needs doing in the city.
"I say without regret when we compare ourselves with Estevan, to me there's no comparison; we're way ahead of the game, and that's largely due to the fiscal position taken by council."