Mayor Cathy Heron has been nominated by St. Albert city council for the position of president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
Heron has already been an active member of the AUMA, serving as vice-president for cities up to a population of 500,000 for more than five years. Now Heron has put her name forward for a two-year term as president.
If she is unsuccessful in securing the presidency, Heron said she will put her name forward for her former position. As of 10 a.m. on Nov. 8, no other candidates had been nominated for president. Nominations close on Nov. 12.
Wes Brodhead moved to nominate Heron during a Nov. 3 council meeting.
“The saying goes that the world is run by those who show up, and Madam Mayor, the fact that you have shown up over the last number of years at the AUMA table speaks to your ability to do the job,” Brodhead said.
If elected to the position, Heron said she would want to “bring rural municipalities into the fold” to increase the effectiveness of AUMA advocacy.
“Villages and towns do struggle, and we need to support them, but at the same time I think they need to learn and understand their limitations,” Heron said. “The big cities have their own issues, and they generally have good access to the province."
Rural municipalities are currently represented through an independent association, Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA), comprising 69 counties and municipal districts.
Concerns with workload
Two councillors asked questions about and commented on the time commitment that would come with the position.
Coun. Sheena Hughes cited what she described as a hefty workload former Morinville mayor and AUMA president Lisa Holmes faced in both roles.
“It took up a lot of time,” Hughes said. “A lot of people in Morinville were not happy about how much time and how many days the mayor of Morinville was unavailable for their community because of her responsibilities.”
Hughes said she knows Heron will be “very committed” to her position at the AUMA, but said she was uncertain how to vote, saying becoming president of the AUMA “is a sacrifice to the community."
“I’m concerned that you might be underestimating the number of hours involved in doing a potential president position of this magnitude,” Hughes said.
When asked by Coun. Shelley Biermanski what kind of time commitment the position might bring with it, Heron said the AUMA board of directors and executive committee each meet once a month, meetings she already attended as vice-president.
While the president typically chairs the Alberta Municipal Services Corporation (AMSC) board of governors, which Heron described as the “business side of the AUMA,” Heron said she has already asked another member of the board to chair this board for her if she is successful.
Heron said she struggled with the presidential nomination herself. She cited recent AUMA president, Barry Morishita, as an example of how every AUMA president is different. Morishita recently served as mayor of the City of Brooks, a municipality with a population of about 15,000, while AUMA president.
“[Morishita] did have more time on his hands, and he did travel around Alberta and go to every municipality in the entire province and meet with people,” Heron said. “That will not be something I intend to do.”
Councillors voice support for Heron
Coun. Natalie Joly said she was “delighted” to see Heron up for the nomination.
“I have every confidence you’ll be able to balance your role as mayor with a role as president as you’ve done for the last couple of years as vice-president,” Joly said.
Having Heron as AUMA president would give “the St. Albert perspective” a strong voice at the provincial level, Joly said.
Coun. Ken MacKay seconded Joly, saying while he initially had concerns about Heron taking on additional responsibility and being the first contact at the AUMA, he had warmed to the idea.
“The [AMSC chair] moving over to another representative is a wise choice,” MacKay said. “I follow Coun. Joly’s optimism … you will bring your strengths, your organizational abilities, and your limitations to the table.”
The vote to nominate Heron passed 6-1, with Biermanski opposed.
Voting for the president position will take place Nov. 19, during the annual AUMA convention.