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No changes to Cochrane Town council, as all incumbents re-elected

"I think there's a lot of synergies and efficiencies gained by having the exact same council."
cochrane2021election
Photo courtesy of cochrane.ca.

The polls are officially closed and Cochranites have voted to, well, keep things the same. 

Over the last couple of months, 19 residents pushed their campaigns, eager to grab the attention of fellow Cochranites as they fought for a one-in-six spot to sit alongside mayor Jeff Genung, who was acclaimed. 

However, no candidates were able to upset the existing councillors' holds on their positions, as all six incumbents were re-elected.

Mayor Genung said the success of all the re-elected council members is a huge vote of confidence for the group. He explained there was no issue dividing the community to change its vote, and therefore, he was not surprised with the election's outcome.

He said he was willing to work with whomever the community chose, but there is something to be said about having the same group as from 2017 to 2021.

"We can hit the ground running," Genung said. "We don't have to spend a lot of time training or learning roles and responsibilities like we would if there were even just one new face. I think there's a lot of synergies and efficiencies gained by having the exact same council."

Genung said community re-building will be important in the coming months. COVID has been detrimental to the community and its relationships, and at the top of Genung's list is mending those broken pieces.

He explained when the time allows to do so, things like community events and getting back to what makes Cochrane special is crucial.  

"I really want to focus on trying to bring the community back together," he said. "COVID has been a real divisive entity. We've been so divided for so long with masks and mandates and vaccines, I really would like the focus to be on bringing the community back together."

Returning councillor Morgan Nagle said it is exciting to be back with such a huge vote of confidence for council's work over the last four years.

"It feels pretty surreal," said an elated Nagel after learning he'd been re-elected. "I feel very fortunate. I think this election result shows the community is pleased with the direction we're moving and I do believe Cochrane is heading in the right direction."

Holding the most votes out of all candidates, Nagel will be serving his third term on town council in the next four years. He credited his triumph to speaking boldly, avoiding controversy, and being respectful.

Although working with the same team is exciting for Nagel, he believes there were a lot of great individuals that put forth their names in the council race. 

First on the agenda for Nagel will be getting together with Genung and fellow council members to set clear goals for the next four years. He said the communication between council members will continue to be important, so outlining goals they'd like to reach is imperative. He highlighted traffic studies, pedestrian and bike access, and preserving Cochrane's park spaces as key items.

"I think it's critical that every single community in Cochrane feels like they can walk or bike in and out of town safely and enjoyably," he said. "In the older, more established neighbourhoods closer to town, that's no problem, but for a lot of the neighbourhoods on the outskirts of town, walking safely just really isn't an option, especially at nighttime." 

 As for COVID-related questions, Nagel expressed a sentiment many are feeling by saying he really wants the pandemic to end, eventually. 

"I don't want these new restrictions that we are currently living in to be the new normal for the rest of our lives," he said. "I don't want 2025 or 2030 to roll around and kids are still wearing masks on their face and we're still using passports to get around our own community." 

The 2021 municipal election saw 6,842 votes cast in Cochrane.

Advance polls were open to the public beginning Oct. 9 and advance voting turnout was up 48 per cent from 2017.

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