By Greg Nikkel
The race is on for Weyburn city council for both mayor and council, as a mayoral candidate and council candidates have filed nomination papers, with the deadline to file at 4 p.m. today, Sept. 21, at City Hall.
A long-time former police officer, Marcel Roy, has filed to run against the incumbent, Mayor Debra Button, while for council, incumbent Mel Van Betuw filed along with newcomers Jason Bill, Jeff Heisler and Tim Hughes to bring to 10 the number of candidates for the six positions as of Tuesday morning.
In declaring his candidacy, Roy said Weyburn has stagnated in its growth.
“I’m running for mayor to put a breath of life back into our city. I want to see Weyburn’s businesses develop and also attract new businesses to Weyburn while reducing the amount of roadblocks that many of these businesses are coming up against by the city,” he said, adding that this will help with job opportunities, and will attract and retain youth in the city.
He also wants the city to support quality health and medical services, emergency services and quality city infrastructure, and added, “If I get elected as mayor of Weyburn, our city council will have much-needed transparency, accountability and community input.”
Roy feels the city needs to be more innovative and to make changes when needed, comparing Weyburn to the cell phone company Blackberry, which he said failed to change and adapt, “making it now almost non-existent in the world of cell phones.”
Roy began as one of the province’s first EMTs, and spent 32 years on the Weyburn Police Service, retiring as a sergeant. He has operated an oil safety training company since 1992, and when he was younger, he spent five years with the Regina Rifles reserve unit. He received two medals, a Canada 125 medal for good citizenship, and a long-service medal for serving over 30 years on the police force.
Incumbent Mel Van Betuw is finishing his first term on council, and said, “The past four years has certainly been a learning experience. I thought if I’m fortunate enough to be re-elected, my experience on council and as a businessman will give me the knowledge to help the city move forward.”
He has enjoyed his work on council committees, including serving on the Care-A-Van committee, the environmental resources committee and the Weyburn Police Commission. He noted the environmental committee has been working towards bringing in a recycling program for the city, and of his time on the police commission, he said, “It’s been very interesting. Our relationship with the police department has bee much improved in the past number of years.”
In terms of the city’s business environment, Van Betuw said, “I think it’s very important city council makes Weyburn a competitive place for business and to invest in. We also need to make sure Weyburn is ready for growth for when the economy does improve, and to make sure the infrastructure is in place for when that growth comes.”
Van Betuw noted that Weyburn is a great place to live, pointing out the survey of communities by Moneysense magazine which placed Weyburn high amongst other communities in Canada, and said he wants to work to keep Weyburn as a place where people want to live and to work.
New candidate Jeff Heisler grew up well-familiar with past mayors and councillors as his mother, Cheryl Rommann, was Weyburn’s city clerk for many years.
“I’ve had an admiration of council members and I’ve always wanted to be one,” he said, noting former mayor Isabelle Butters gave him his first job, hiring him to work at the Co-op bakery in 1985, where he worked for 10 years.
“I’m a people person. I like to hear people’s sides of the story, I’m a good listener and I’d like to learn to be a better resident of the city,” said Heisler.
He pointed out that he doesn’t have a particular agenda for running for council, and feels council has had some very good people serving, adding, “I’d love to be a part of that.”
As far as growing the city, Heisler said he’s been hearing a lot about how Weyburn needs to grow. His feeling is that Weyburn doesn’t need to grow so much as the city needs to be a better place to live and do business.
Issues that do need attention include health care, and the city’s water quality.
“I’ve been kind of keeping tabs with what’s been going on at City Hall, and paying attention to what’s happening. I talk to people and listen to their ideas. I just want to be one more person who makes good decisions for the community,” said Heisler.
He has helped his father run the family business for 11 years, and has worked as a flooring contractor for the last 18 years, as well as working in direct sales for 15 years.
New candidate Jason Bill was born and raised in Weyburn, and has worked in the oil industry for the past 25 years, including 10 years in oilfield safety.
Asked about why he wants to run for council, he said, “I would like to have a say from a working class perspective,” adding he doesn’t have a particular agenda, but wants to look some aspects of city business, such as to make sure property evaluation is done properly.
As he gets older, he is becoming more interested in issues around the city, and as his priorities change he is now looking to make more of a difference in the community.
Bill said he would like to see a new hospital in Weyburn, and feels “it’s something that has to get done. There’s been a lot of foot-dragging going on.”
He also feels the landfill needs to be looked at, and that recycling is needed, as “we’re probably the last city in the province not to have a comprehensive recycling program in place.”
Bill said he wants to be more involved in the city, as he is planning to be here for a long time with his family.
“I’m excited to learn more and to do what’s best for the city,” he said.
In the RM of Weyburn, incumbent Carmen Sterling has filed her papers for reeve, while in Division 1, incumbent Heather Cugnet has withdrawn her name, and Dan Cugnet has filed for councillor, while incumbent Lloyd Culham has filed for Division 3, and in Division 5, incumbent Doug Probe and newcomer Norm McFadden have filed.
For the school boards, incumbent Warren Betker has filed for one of the two seats for Weyburn on the Southeast Cornerstone School Division, while fellow trustee Dana Pretzer has indicated he will not run again. At Holy Family, incumbents Bruno Tuchscherer and Jerome Sidloski had filed as of Tuesday.
By Greg Nikkel