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Don Kochan elected RVC's first mayor

Rocky View County (RVC) council has its first mayor and deputy mayor, after the incoming council appointed the two positions at its organizational meeting on Oct. 25.
Don Kochan was sworn in as Rocky View County's mayor on Oct. 26.

Rocky View County (RVC) council has its first mayor and deputy mayor, after the incoming council appointed the two positions at its organizational meeting on Oct. 26.

In a vote among council, members selected newcomer Don Kochan to the mayor’s seat, while returning councillor Crystal Kissel will claim the deputy mayor’s position. Kochan is the new Division 2 representative on council, after overcoming incumbent Kim McKylor in the Oct. 18 municipal election.

While he is new to the group, Kochan said he feels good about the opportunity to be the mayor, a role that will include chairing meetings, acting as council’s official spokesperson, and being the County’s chief representative on certain boards and commissions, including the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board.

“I am appreciating the confidence the other councillors have provided, to be able to lead them through the next little bit of the term,” he said. “I'm looking forward to it."

Formerly known as the reeve and deputy reeve, the positions of RVC's chief elected officials were previously held by Daniel Henn and McKylor, who were not re-elected in the Oct. 18 vote.

When the previous council approved a bylaw to redraw the County’s electoral boundaries and reduce the size of council by two divisional representatives in 2020, they also voted to change the titles of the group’s chief elected officials, from reeve and deputy reeve to mayor and deputy mayor.

Though one of just two newcomers on council, Kochan said his previous career in municipal governance will serve him well in the mayoral capacity. He worked for the Town of Canmore for 15 years, ending his time there by spending five years as the municipality’s chief administrative officer.

“I have dealt with councillors a lot through that role, and certainly have dealt a lot with team building,” he said. “So, from a go-forward point for RVC, we do have a fair amount of work in front of us we need to address.

“With my experience with the [Municipal Government Act] and dealing with council, I think it will fit in nicely as far as me being able to provide that experience to benefit the County.”

The first priority for RVC’s new council, according to Kochan, will be getting a permanent CAO in place, as Kent Robinson has been serving as the County’s acting chief administrative officer since previous CAO Al Hoggan left earlier this year.

“We do have a vacancy there,” Kochan said. “We are hoping to put someone in place sooner or later so we can start being more productive as a County.”

Other than that, Kochan said he looks forward to reviewing RVC’s finances, state of administration, and service levels with his council colleagues in the coming months.

He noted the number-one thing he heard from residents on the campaign trail is that they did not feel they were being listened to, relative to the issues that arose during the previous term.

“I think this council is a bit more structured as far as meeting the residents’ needs,” he said, adding he expects the budget to be a time-consuming process for the new council.

“But I think we’ll get a good feel as far as where we are at and take it from there to see what other items need to be addressed in the short term,” he said.

Same mayors in Irricana, Beiseker

In terms of some of the municipalities within Rocky View County's geographical area, the incoming councils in Irricana and Beiseker voted for mayoral continuity at their own organizational meetings on Oct. 26.

The previous mayors for Irricana and Beiseker – Frank Friesen and Warren Wise – will continue in their roles for another year, after being acclaimed to the positions.

While Coun. Kim Schmaltz was also nominated for the mayoral seat in Irricana, Friesen said Schmaltz declined the opportunity, which meant he was acclaimed as mayor.

“It's a privilege and humbling to be back in council for the Town of Irricana,” Friesen said. “I think we have ourselves a great council and I look forward to working with them in moving Irricana forward.”

Friesen said the new council will focus on accountability, transparency, and using local tax dollars wisely to ensure Irricana stays affordable.

As for Wise, he was also acclaimed to the role of Beiseker's mayor. A nine-year council veteran, Wise has served as the village's mayor for the last three years.

He said there's not much difference between being the mayor versus being a regular councillor, other than the added responsibility of chairing the meetings. That being said, Wise added it will be a privilege to continue as Beiseker's chief elected official for another year.

“I enjoy it, he said. “It's challenging, but rewarding as well.

With two new council members, Wise said Beiseker's elected officials are keen to hit the ground running in the coming term.

“As of right now, I think it's going to go well,” he said. “It's going to take a bit of time for [the new councillors] to get up to speed and know what's going on, but I'm sure they will do that.

“By and large, our council in Beiseker since I've been on it for the past nine years or so has been a productive and good council, in that we don't have a lot of in-fighting or anything like that. It's a pretty good council to work with.”

—With files from Jordan Stricker/Rocky View Weekly

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