There will be a new mayor in Innisfail come Oct. 21.
After initially committing to run for reelection, current mayor Jim Romane has decided his name won’t be on the ballot when voters head to the polls in a month.
“I appreciate the support that people have given me in the last three years,” said Romane, ‘“Regretfully there were some that wanted to see me stay on, but I think they understand my reasons and hopefully they respect that.”
Those reasons relate to a sitting councillor unexpectedly entering the race, and, at 67, a personal desire to retire.
In July, seeing no interest in anyone else challenging for the mayor’s chair, Romane said he wanted to “stimulate” the campaign and announced he would stand for reelection.
“I was prepared to stay if there were no interested parties,” he said.
Within a week of his announcement, however, Coun. Brian Spiller announced that he too would be running for Romane’s chair and immediately received support in his bid from fellow Coun. Jason Heistad.
“It caught me a little off guard. In fact, it shocked the heck out of me,” said Romane, who had not heard from Spiller in advance of the councillor announcing his intentions to the Innisfail Province. With Spiller as a candidate, Romane decided in favour of retirement. He called the first-term councillor “a good listener and a thorough person” and said the town would be in good hands if Spiller becomes the next mayor. Currently, no other candidates have announced that they will run.
Romane won the 2010 mayoral election in a close race after serving 16 years on council.
He said he is proud of the steady growth Innisfail experienced during his 19 years in governance and the updating of old infrastructure throughout the town.
He based his last campaign on a multi-million dollar downtown revitalization project, which is to be finished next year. Going forward, he said the town will need to focus on creating a new industrial park and residential expansion.
Romane had tried retirement out before, but with his wife still working at the time, he said he ended up bored. Now, with his wife considering retirement next year, he is looking forward to spending more time camping, travelling, golfing, and flying his airplane.
“I didn’t start flying and get my licence until I was 60 years old. The only regret I’ve had is that I didn’t do it 20 years earlier,” said Romane.
Nomination day for the municipal election is Sept. 23.