Long-time public servant Cindy Jefferies will make her return to Red Deer city council, after winning a seat in Monday’s municipal election.
The former councillor, from 2004-2013, and former Red Deer Public Schools trustee, from 1995-2004, reeled in the second-most votes of all council candidates.
“I’m very, very excited. I’m absolutely thankful for all of the people who volunteered and helped, and all of those who had confidence in me to take a spot on council,” said Jefferies.
Bringing a permanent shelter for those experiencing homelessness and solving issues in the downtown are a major priorities, said Jefferies.
Incumbent Michael Dawe received the most votes of all council candidates. He received the most votes in the 2017 municipal election as well.
“Last time I got elected, I knew a lot of people in Red Deer, but people didn’t know me as a city councillor. This time, not only would they like to see me on council, but it’s also a judgment of how I’ve done,” he said.
Dawe said he hopes to keep the city on “sound financial footing” and try to overcome deep divisions that have arisen in the community.
Fellow incumbents Dianne Wyntjes, Lawrence Lee and Vesna Higham will also return to council.
Wyntjes said she was humbled and honoured to be voted onto council in what was an odd election.
“One always makes connections during the public forums – beforehand and after when people are milling about. That was a real lost opportunity and I think we all missed it. It’s not the same on a screen,” she said, adding she’s high on engagement, youth and inclusion.
“Someone sent me a message today saying, ‘How can we make our city kinder and better?’ That’s my goal,” she said.
Lee said given the “tumultuous times” the world has been through, his re-election signals confidence and trust from the people of Red Deer.
Moving forward, it’ll be important to connect with nearby municipalities as other councils have been transforming as well, Lee added.
“Once we get that dynamic down we can focus on a lot of seeds that have already been planted in terms of where we’re going to go. Top priorities would be looking at that integrated shelter space, expansion of the hospital and a revitalization of our downtown,” said Lee.
Newcomer Bruce Buruma also won a seat on city council.
“I’m thrilled and I’m excited of all the possibilities. There were some really key messages that came from our community and I will take those forward and do the best with the team our citizens have selected,” said Buruma.
As a new councillor, Buruma admits there will be a bit of a learning curve, but he said he will lean his experience as a senior administrator with Red Deer Public Schools.
As of publishing, Kraymer Barnstable and Victor Doerksen were sitting in the final two positions for Red Deer city council. Doerksen is a former MLA who left provincial politics in 2008 – since then, he has been a volunteer, investment advisor and former executive director of the Central Alberta Refugee Effort. Barnstable is a former player and coach for the Red Deer Rebels.
The city will release official results for mayor, councillors and school trustees Friday at noon. There were 71,475 eligible voters in Red Deer.