May 25th, 2024

New mayor and council officially sworn in

By Herald on October 26, 2021.

Herald photo by Al Beeber - The city’s new mayor and council take part in the official swearing in ceremony Monday afternoon at the Yates Theatre.

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Lethbridge’s 26th mayor and city council were sworn in Monday afternoon at the Yates Theatre in front of a substantial invitation-only crowd.

Blaine Hyggen and eight councillors – four of them re-elected incumbents – took their oaths of office on the Yates stage then listened to taped addresses by MP Rachael Harder, Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips, Lethbridge East MLA Nathan Neudorf, Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

City Manager Craig Dalton addressed council in person. Kainai elder Mike Bruised Head offered a “neighbour-to-nation” greeting while performances were staged by the Nikkei Cultural Society of Lethbridge and Area Minyo Dancers and Lethbridge country artist Trevor Panczak.

The new council was led onto the stage by Legion Pipe Band Major John Gray, followed by Lethbridge Police Service chief Shahin Mehdizadeh.

Returning officer Bonnie Hilford served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. Deputy City Clerk David Sarsfied administered the oath of office for the mayor and council.

In his inaugural address, Hyggen said tackling community safety will be a priority for council as it begins its four-year term in office.

“It is no secret that I believe one of the first areas we need to look at as city council is community safety,” said the mayor, adding he looks forward to hearing the ideas and perspectives of his fellow council “on this key issue as we work forward to a solution for our city.”

He opened his address by thanking and acknowledging the work of former mayor Chris Spearman for his eight years in public service, expressing admiration and respect for his passion and commitment to Lethbridge.

He also addressed his former council colleagues Joe Mauro, Jeffrey Coffman and Rob Miyashiro for their years of public service. “Your voices will be missed,” he said.

He expressed his gratitude to the election staff for making the process run smoothly and the individuals who ran for election but weren’t successful.

“You truly stood up for what you believed in and I thank you and Lethbridge thanks you,” he said.

He acknowledged his colleagues and the hard work that it took to earn a seat on council.

“Together, let’s represent citizens’ voices, their hopes and dreams and work with their best interests at heart, he said.

“Together, let’s work to ensure Lethbridge is an even better place in four years than it is today,” the mayor said.

“A little more than a week ago, the residents of our beloved city voted to put their trust in this group of nine people, not as individuals but as a team to lead them into a brighter future.”

Hyggen said he hopes to forge a strong bond with provincial and federal governments “in order to advocate for the resources and funding our city needs to address the issues” facing Lethbridge.

“Let’s take steps to further secure and advance our business sector’s needs so we can be the first place investors and businesses come to when they want to open new doors or new ventures. Our ability to produce world class research and innovation between our two outstanding post secondary institutions is phenomenal,” added the mayor saying he wants to continue working together with the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College.

“Indigenous relations will continue to be a key focus as we move into a new term as city council,” the mayor said.

“As a council, we’ll set in motion a plan that will make Lethbridge a better community for everyone. Together, your city council will treat each issue pragmatically and with you in mind,” Hyggen said.

Addresssing city council, Hyggen said while they may not always agree with each other, “let’s act with respect for one another’s opinions. We each bring a set of unique experiences, opinions and perspectives to the table. It is why we were elected. Together we can use those strengths to build a better future for our community,” Hyggen added.

During the campaign, he said the city’s “eternal optimism” stood out and he wants council to be a source of that continued optimism.

“I want to give residents something to be hopeful (for) and in order to do that, we have to show them we are working for them,” he said.

Hyggen said council needs to be open, transparent and accountable and address concerns of residents whether they voted for them or not.

After the ceremony Hyggen said “we’re ready to roll here. We’ve got a newly elected council sworn in today and I look forward to connecting with them, finding out what different things we heard on the campaign trail and what we can do to better our community.”

Hyggen reiterated a safe community is one of the top priorities council needs to address, as well as issues such as taxation and busing.

“It’s going to be great to sit down with all of council and find out what they’ve heard…

“We differ on a few things but together we’re going to have respect for one another, I truly believe that and we’re going to have a very successful four years.

Rookie councillor Jenn Schmidt-Rempel, who took her oath of office on the same Bible her late father swore his Canadian citizenship on, agreed with the mayor that community safety is a big issue that council will be examining.

“As Mayor Hyggen had said, we really need to be looking at community safety. That will certainly be the priority we look at and I really want to make sure that we as a council set the tone for our city as a group that can work together. And having been through the campaign trail with this group of people, I do believe that we will do that and we will work well together,” Schmidt-Rempel said.

Being elected is “a very humbling experience, I’m still reeling a little bit,” said Schmidt-Rempel after the ceremony.

“I’m so honoured that they put their trust in me to become one of the leaders,” she said of voters.

“I’m really excited to get to work with my fellow colleagues on city council, seeing what we can achieve together for our city. I’m excited to get to work with everyone.”

The event was live streamed on the City’s YouTube channel.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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