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What does the future of Lethbridge city council look like?

Click to play video: 'What does the future of Lethbridge City Council look like?' What does the future of Lethbridge City Council look like?
WATCH ABOVE: There’s no doubt Lethbridge City Council will be looking different by the end of this year with Mayor Chis Spearman announcing that he will not be seeking re-election. Taz Dhaliwal speaks with a former and current city councillor about life in municipal politics and what they think the development could mean. – Jan 7, 2021

On the heels of Mayor Chris Spearman’s announcement to not seek re-election this fall, well wishes are already coming in from some of his fellow city council members.

“I was surprised, I did not know that was going to be his decision,” Coun. Mark Campbell said Thursday.

“I mean, I know that he was certainly thinking about it, so you know, a part of it is bittersweet. I’m happy for him.”

Campbell went on to say he knew Spearman wanted to spend more time with his family and that he’s wishing nothing but the best for Spearman.

Read more: Lethbridge city council set to make big changes in the new year

Global News asked all eight councillors about their re-election plans and whether they would consider a run for mayor.

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So far, four have responded.

Campbell said he will run again, but not for mayor. Councillor Rob Miyashiro said he will not run again. Councillors Jeff Carlson and Blaine Hyygen are undecided at this point.

On Thursday afternoon, Hyggen released a statement, which reads:

“I have worked with mayor Spearman for the past seven years of his 26 years of elected life. Through this timeframe, I’ve come to not only know him as our mayor but also as a man of faith, a thoughtful and tireless worker for the city and citizens of Lethbridge.

“Over the past several months, we have all struggled with the burdens of managing this global crisis, and I know that we have all appreciated the sacrifices that Chris has made both personally and as our mayor.

“One thing is certain when the dust settles, and when this crisis is over, Mayor Spearman will have left his mark on Lethbridge; together we worked to deliver on the Cavendish Investment, ATB Centre, Exhibition Park and many other projects and outcomes too numerous to mention,” the statement goes on to read.

“We still have many more months until the end of this term and I know that my fellow councillors, along with our city staff, will continue to join Mayor Spearman in his commitment to serve the citizens of Lethbridge.

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“Finally, my wife Jennifer, our daughters Jayden, and Jelayna and I want to thank Mayor Spearman and his family for their sacrifices, because we all know firsthand how difficult public life can be,” the statement reads.

Hyggen added that he looks forward to seeing Spearman through to the end of his term.

In regards to his intentions for the upcoming municipal election, Hyggen says it is something he and his family will be discussing in a “thoughtful, deliberate way.”

He adds he will be announcing his plans sometime in the future.

Read more: Lethbridge council expected to take pay cut; municipal census on chopping block

Former city councillor and mayoral candidate in the 2013 municipal election Bridget Mearns said the upcoming election in the fall could present an opportunity to see more representation in terms of women, youth and diverse faces on council.

“I’m of the firm belief that your council should be representative of what your community is,” Mearns said.

“Obviously our community is made up of, I believe 52 per cent women, we really should be having that perspective, that equal perspective, but also First Nations perspective,” Mearns added.

Mearns also said public life can be “all-consuming” and that she appreciates Spearman’s decision not to run and to focus his energy on his family, health and personal interests.

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“I further appreciate him announcing it early, allowing for people to properly consider the opportunity where they may not have if he ran again,” Mearns said.

Read more: ‘It’s time to retire’: Lethbridge mayor announces he won’t seek re-election

She went on to say with no incumbent in the race this fall, the prospect of a mayoral run for some may be more appealing, especially since campaigning requires a significant amount of time, money and risk.

The former councillor adds the unique and challenging political climate this year could also deter some from running.

Mearns too was not able to comment on whether she will be running for mayor in the next election.

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