The present slate of city councillors was elected on Nov. 19, 2011 and they were sworn in at an inaugural meeting on Dec. 5, 2011.
Each of them made promises in their effort to gain voter support and it’s time to look at their work in relation to those promises.
Not many voters will remember what the candidates said in their published statements or on stage at the all-candidates forum, held at the Grand Forks Secondary School prior to the election, so here’s a brief overview.
Brian Taylor placed the renewal of the infrastructure at the top of his list. He hoped the referenda would pass to enable the city to have leverage when the time came to borrow several million dollars from the federal government. He also emphasized the need for city planning.
The referenda were passed, one for $1.3 million for an emergency water supply for fire protection and $4.2 million for roads, water and sewer upgrades.
Strategic Infrastructure Inc. was employed to conduct and inventory on the condition of city streets and roads and repair and replacement priorities. A report from the company was received on Sept. 4.
A two-day strategic planning session, involving councillors and city staff, was held in Jan. 2012. Only the councillors know how the planning has affected their work.
Patrick O’Doherty said he would focus on the general infrastructure and work with seniors and young families to provide affordable housing and health care.
Bob Kendel said he had a desire for meaningful change, a clear vision and motivated leadership. Part of his vision was a revitalization of agriculture in the area. He has a liking for the so-called super fruit, the Haskap Berry.
Gary Smith said he chose to run because he wanted to be active in the growth, development and prosperity of the city. He said he had ideas on what council must do in the next three years but has never elaborated on them.
Both Smith and Kendel appear to have shifted their focus away from agricultural initiatives.
Kendel chairs the Economic Development Advisory Committee and Smith is now immersed in the downtown revitalization project and the branding project.
Both Smith and Kendel recently announced that they support the idea of a community hall. It’s not a new idea, as reports at city hall will show.
Cher Wyers opted for the continuance of what the previous council had begun. She wanted long-term planning and wanted the referenda to pass.
Wyers appears to be the one of the busiest of all councillors. She chairs the environment committee and attends meetings of the board of the Grand Forks Public Library Association among a lot of other activities.
Michael Wirischagin said he wanted Grand Forks to be a safe, secure community for all ages. He also saw the need for planning.
Just what Wirischagin meant by a safe, secure city has never been articulated publicly.
Neil Krog saw his role on council as that of a stabilizer and he promised to employ his experience to keep council members grounded. He also wanted Grand Forks to become self-sustainable.
Krog has never explained what he meant by the statement about his role at council meetings and he has not provided more detail on his vision of a “sustainable” community.
Councillors have special assignments and those can be found in the March 5 regular meeting minutes.
Taxpayers can take solace in knowing that the status quo prevails in council chambers, and in the knowledge that things won’t likely change much in the next couple years.
Coun. Wyers’ wish for continuance has come true.
Coun. Krog must be pleased that there has been no need to keep his fellow councillors grounded.
– Roy Ronaghan is a columnist for the Grand Forks Gazette