Two new candidates filed their papers before today’s deadline for the municipal election for the City of Weyburn, including one for the mayor’s race, and one more for city council.
Jeremy Murray brings to three the number vying for the mayor’s chair, while Mel Van Betuw has let his name stand for city council. As yet, no papers have been filed from either Coun. Andy Broccolo or Winston Bailey, although Bailey has said he will be running again; this leaves the number running for council at six, which will be an acclamation unless another candidate(s) steps forward today at the deadline.
Candidates have 24 hours after the deadline to withdraw, which will make the nominations official as of Thursday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m.
Murray has lived in Weyburn since he moved here with his parents in 1987; he attended junior and senior high school here, and after leaving for further schooling he returned some nine years ago to work as a mechanic, for five years with Barber Motors, and the past four years with Redcoat Chrysler.
He and wife Tamara have one son, Everett.
Explaining his desire to run, Murray said, “It just seems to me it’s been so stagnant; people are crying out for a change and nobody’s stepping up. Just by talking to a lot of people, I feel under-represented. A lot of people haven’t voted in the last couple of elections because they feel they had no one to vote for.”
One of the events that stirred him to put his name forward was witnessing an accident at the intersection of Fifth Street and First Avenue, after the new arrows were painted on the streets.
In addition to his dissatisfaction over how the city has handled the new traffic lines, he also has concerns about water and air quality issues, particularly after the boil-water advisory the city just went through.
Murray’s concern, besides the quality of the water, is also about the source and quantity of water available, noting the strong rate of growth of the city. “I think the future growth of the city is going to be compromised,” he said.
Murray would also like to see the city police more visible in and around the city, and enforcing the laws more strongly, suggesting that much of the vandalism and property damage going on is due to the lack of a heavy presence of the police.
“I also want to do more to attract new businesses to Weyburn to promote jobs and increase the patronage of local shops,” said Murray, adding, “I really would like to make a plan to stabilize or decrease property taxes. I’d have to work with council on that and get their views, of course. I’m sure we can develop a better tax system.”
One possibility he’d like to look into is a lodging tax, which is used in Regina and Saskatoon. “There are a lot of Alberta plates parked at the hotels; they should be paying more for what they’re getting from us,” said Murray.
Affordable housing is also one of the major issues he has concerns about, and noted the “Headstart on a Home” program the city has signed on to is “a really exciting program, because it’s a made-in-Saskatchewan program.”
Van Betuw is well-known in the city as a businessman for 32 years, the first 10 with his father until he passed away in 1990. He and wife Judy have been married for 29 years and they have three children, daughter Jayda and sons Michael and Nathan.
Explaining how he came to enter the council race, Van Betuw said, “I thought about it for a long time; I know it’s a time-consuming position, but I just recently sold my business, so now I have the time to learn and to focus on being on council.”
He added he talked to three members of the current council to get a better idea of what sort of time commitment would be involved.
“I feel the city is being run well, so I don’t really have any big beefs with the city. One of the things I feel is important is to keep the infrastructure up with the growth, and make sure that infrastructure is maintained,” said Van Betuw, adding it’s also important for Weyburn to get a new acute-care hospital, with local efforts ongoing to raise funds.
“Personally I have been involved in the housing industry for most of my life, so I feel affordable housing is key, and to make sure we have housing available for all income levels,” said Van Betuw.
Asked what he has to offer to voters, he pointed to his 32 years of experience in business, giving him the ability to not only make decisions, but to make tough ones, including ones regarding fiscal responsibility.
This experience combined with his young age means he will be able to apply himself to the learning and doing that would be expected of a city councillor.
“I think I will learn quickly and be able to apply that to the job. Weyburn is a great community, it’s a beautiful community and we never plan on leaving Weyburn. I want it to stay as a progressive and beautiful place to live, where we can raise children and grandchildren,” he said.