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Fort Macleod residents will continue to elect own mayor

Fort Macleod residents will vote for their own choice of mayor in the next municipal election.
Town council last week decided not to pursue a change that would have seen voters elect seven councilors, who would then choose the mayor at an organizational meeting.
“This is not a small change for our community,” Deputy Mayor Brent Feyter said.
Council earlier in its four-year term decided to look into a change.
The idea is that good council candidates are sometimes left out when two or more people run for mayor.
The discussion arose due in large part to a rift between council members and Mayor Rene Gendre, who has been sanctioned for most of three years.
The MD of Willow Creek council is made up of representatives from seven districts, who then vote annually on a reeve to chair the group.
The idea of electing seven councilors, rather than six and a mayor, was on the agenda of the Jan. 9 council meeting.
“We can give it some time if you guys want to think about it more, Feyter offered when discussion began.
In a report to council, chief administrative officer Sue Keenan explained the mayor is to be elected by a vote of citizens, unless council strikes a by-law authorizing the change.
“That would be a bit of an unprecedented move, Keenan told council at the Jan. 9 meeting.
Keenan said it is typically municipal districts and counties that choose a reeve from elected members. That is due in large part because the council members are elected within specific districts and not by the population at large, as is the case in towns and cities.
“I think there are some pros and cons,” Feyter said, adding no system is going to be “fool proof.”
Coun. Keith Trowbridge said before council made a change like that, Fort Macleod residents should get a chance to weigh in on the topic.
“It is their town,” Trowbridge said.
Coun. Trish Hoskin said some people she talked to supported the change, but she has since heard many opinions opposed to the idea.
Gendre suggested putting the proposal in a referendum in conjunction with the next municipal election to give people a chance to vote on the idea.
At the end of the discussion, council took no action.

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