June 22nd, 2024

Spearman’s final address passes torch to next council

By Herald on September 14, 2021.

Mayor Chris Spearman gives his final State of the City address to members of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday morning at the Coast Hotel and Conference Centre. Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski

Tim Kalinowski – Lethbridge Herald

Mayor Chris Spearman made his final State of the City address to members of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

In his early morning speech, Spearman comprehensively reviewed the achievements and challenges city council has had over the past four years, and highlighted the ongoing needs of the city going forward.

Spearman said he intended his final address not as a personal farewell, but rather as a means to educate the public and the incoming council about what they will be expected to take on and guide forward in their four-year term.

“It was about getting in ahead of that (election) and providing information that will benefit candidates and will benefit voters,” he told reporters. “You will be able to look at information on the (City) website, and maybe ask some good questions of the people running for council. And the people running for council have a great resource in terms of understanding what it takes, and what you need to know, in order to be on city council, and what the commitment is going to look like.”

Spearman said preparing his presentation for Tuesday had allowed him to reflect back on his time in office.

“It is nice to sit back and reflect on what we had one term, and two terms ago, and what we have now,” he stated. “And how the city has progressed. We always talk about how each council builds on the work of the previous councils; so we have built on the work of previous councils and now a new council will be elected on Oct. 18 which will build on the work we have done.”

Spearman said he had few regrets, but acknowledged he hadn’t anticipated the social challenges he and his fellow councillors would be inheriting when they came in after the 2013 election, and which continued to grow worse following the 2017 election.

“Having worked in business for 33 years here in the city prior to being the Mayor of the City of Lethbridge, and then becoming mayor, I thought I was fairly well-equipped when it came to things like economic development,” he explained. “One of the things I underestimated was the complexity of the social problems. It became apparent within a year or two of first being elected by 2014 we had a growing drug problem … That has been a massive challenge.”

Spearman said those problems will be foremost for the incoming council as well, and he wished them well in dealing with them. He also thanked his current council colleagues for their hard work and support now that the “work of this council is essentially done.”

“Nobody does anything by themselves,” he acknowledged. “The mayor doesn’t make all the decisions; everything has to happen where you have to have at least four friends on council at any one time to get anything done. So that’s the key, and the next mayor I would say the skillset is going to have to be a good negotiator. Going forward, I think, someone who is experienced as someone who is a relationship builder. The challenges the city has, I think you are going to have to have somebody who is a strong advocate for the City of Lethbridge.”

Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce CEO Cyndi Vos joined her members in wishing Spearman well in his retirement, and thanked him and city staff for putting together this final State of the City address to provide good information to the voting public and all council candidates.

“I have been able to have a strong relationship with the mayor since taking over my position, and he has always had a very open door policy,” Vos stated. “So when he said, ‘Can we do this State of the City?’ I said, ‘absolutely, let’s do it.’ As voters, we need to really think about what it is we want to see happen in our city over the next four years.”

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Watched this story on the news last night and was surprised to see no masks at this meeting. It was inside and no food i could see. A case of do as i say not as i do maybe? Just an observation.