Watkinson-Zimmer decides not to run for re-election

There will be at least two newcomers on Red Deer city council this fall after a second city councillor announced she will not seek re-election.

Another long-time Red Deer city councillor has decided not to seek re-election on Oct. 18. Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer announced on Thursday that she will pass up running for a sixth term because she feels the timing is right to step aside.

“I think 15 years is a good number,” she said. “I feel that council is moving towards full time and if you have a business or other venture, it’s hard to give 110 per cent.”

Watkinson-Zimmer, 62, said that with retirement on the horizon, this seems like a good way to wind down. She has run Comforts the Sole shoe store downtown for 17 years while her husband, Dennis Zimmer, operates Kovac’s Manufacturing and Repairs. They have a 28-year-old son, Joel, who is a pilot.

The businesswoman said she will “terribly” miss being involved at City Hall. After finishing the news release late Wednesday night, she said she didn’t sleep very well.

Watkinson-Zimmer emerged as a strong advocate for preserving and protecting the Red Deer River. She was the first Red Deer elected official to sit on the Red Deer River Municipal Users Group, a group that was successful in blocking the CrossIrons mega mall near Balzac from acquiring water supplies from the Red Deer River.

“Red Deer said ‘No’ to it and people rallied around,” said Watkinson-Zimmer. “That was exciting.”

Watkinson-Zimmer listed a number of highlights that the city has done over the years, including the building or expansion of several recreational centres, new civic yards, as well as large-scale plans for downtown redevelopment.

“I am personally pleased we did not extend Molly Banister Drive through the creek,” added Watkinson-Zimmer.

She said the idea of such a road emerged when she was initially elected.

She believes this road isn’t essential because drivers can use Delburne Road (19th Street) or 32nd Street, which is busy “but that’s life.”

“I have so much faith it’s not going to happen,” Watkinson-Zimmer said.

The city is committed to developing more of a walkable Red Deer, she added.

Watkinson-Zimmer also hailed city staff and the many councillors who have the city’s best interests at heart.

Last month, Larry Pimm said he would not seek a 10th term.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling and Councillors Buck Buchanan and Lynne Mulder have announced they will run again. Councillors Frank Wong, Gail Parks, Cindy Jefferies and Tara Veer haven’t formally announced whether they will make another bid.

Businessman Paul Harris, Canadian Union of Public Employees regional director Dianne Wyntjes and former mayoralty candidate Matt Chapin are seeking council seats.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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