After two terms in office, a Lethbridge city councillor is preparing to take some time away from public service.
Bridget Mearns is the lone incumbent who will not be seeking re-election when city residents head to the ballot box on Oct. 16.
“It’s been an amazing seven years and I feel so honoured and grateful that I had the opportunity to sit in this seat,” Mearns said during a recent interview with Global News. “When I walked through the door, I felt this is where I belonged. It felt like that comfortable hug. It’s where I was meant to be from day one.”
Mearns was first elected to city council in 2010, when elected officials still held the title of alderman.
During her first term, Mearns brought forward a successful motion that saw the city adopt the current title of Councillor.
But as the 2013 election drew near, she wanted to pursue her passion for public service full time, and would announce a bid for the mayor’s chair in June 2013.
She would finish second after the ballots were counted in October, and was left on the outside looking in.
“Being unsuccessful with that, and then being out of council for a bit, reminded me how important it was for me,” Mearns said.
Several months later, Mearns would receive an opportunity to return to city hall.
She ran for an open council seat in a 2014 byelection and was sworn in for a second term in May 2014.
Diving back in, Mearns quickly found herself among the more vocal proponents of curbside recycling, as debate on the contentious issue reached a boiling point in February 2015.
“She was doing what the community hired her to do, and that was to bring ideas forward, bring issues forward, bring it for representation, bring it for debate and she brought it with information, brought it with passion, brought it with conviction,” said Jeff Coffman, Mearns’ colleague at city council. “We may not have agreed on every issue, but it was always professional, always cordial.”
Curbside recycling would ultimately pass, but Mearns will not hold a seat in council chambers when the blue bins arrive.
When her term concludes, she plans to finish her master’s program in business administration and pursue other professional development opportunities.
But the soon-to-be former councillor is still committed to serving her community.
“Public service is a part of me,” Mearns said, “so I will always be contributing, whether it’s from an elected seat or whether it’s from other seats of influence.”
For now though, Mearns wants to extend gratitude to the people who put her in office.
“This is something that’s meant a lot to me and I’ve enjoyed doing it and I’ve done it well,” she said. “I thank the citizens of Lethbridge for that trust because it was an honour.”