LETHBRIDGE – Lethbridge residents woke up to a new, yet familiar face on city council Tuesday, with Bridget Mearns being voted in as the newest councilor in the municipal by-election.
“I really missed it and I just felt I had so much more to give,” says Mearns.
She is certainly no stranger to civic politics having served one term as a councilor before running in the mayoral race in the 2013 municipal election.
While Mearns is familiar with the majority of her coworkers, there are some new faces in chambers including the mayor who she went head to head with last year.
Mayor Chris Spearman says those sort of dealings need to be left in the past.
“I respect councilor Mearns and the other councilors. I think we have to work together in an atmosphere of mutual respects. Sometimes we disagree with each other and it’s important to have diverse views on council,” he adds.
Council has had its fair share of ups and downs over the last seven months.
Members were left coping with the tragic loss of a colleague and good friend, Wade Galloway, who was killed in an avalanche in February.
City councilor Blaine Hyggen says the by-election was a tough day.
“Every time I see these signs I think of a close colleague that I had in the past, so it was difficult. But it’s a chapter in the past that’s going to carry on and I’m looking forward to working with Bridget,” he says.
The by-election cost the city over 100,000 dollars but according the Spearman was required.
“I get a lot of criticism why council didn’t just let the ninth person just serve on council, but it’s a requirement under the local elections act that we hold this election,” he explains.
Voter turnout was with only 11.51 per cent of people turning out to cast a ballot.
While the lack of engagement is disappointing, Bonnie believes it speaks volumes to council’s capabilities.
“It means in my opinion this council is doing well and previous council’s have done well. If you don’t care enough to come out to the polls it means you’re pretty happy with the direction,” she adds.
Bridget Mearns will officially be sworn in as the city’s newest councilor May 26th.