Good news: there will be an election for mayor in Estevan next month.
Councillor Lynn Chipley has filed her nomination papers for mayor, and she'll oppose Councillor Roy Ludwig in the election on October 24.
There is a downside: a very good and dedicated councillor will be defeated in the mayoral election, and won't be part of Council for the foreseeable future. Both Ludwig and Chipley understand this risk associated with running for mayor, but they wouldn't be challenging for the soon-to-be-vacant mayor's seat if they thought victory was unlikely.
The Ludwig and Chipley showdown will be interesting, as it pits two people who have been on Council together for six years, and have some similarities, but definitely have philosophical differences on how to run the City. Ludwig is the stalwart, six-term councillor who is certainly pleased to see the growth that Estevan has enjoyed in the last seven years, but wants to see Estevan grow at a steady, moderate pace.
Chipley hasn't been on Council for as long as Ludwig, but she's passionate about the community, and she wants to see Estevan fulfill its potential. The sooner it happens, the better.
That's not to say that one's right and the other's wrong. They both want to see Estevan grow and prosper. But their approaches are different.
Chipley's decision to challenge for mayor has injected some much-needed energy and enthusiasm into what was another drab election. For a while, it appeared that there might not be a mayoral election for the third straight civic election, which would have been unacceptable for a community like Estevan.
There's more interest in an election when the mayor's seat is being contested. The campaigns in 2000 and 2003 had more discussion, and a much higher voter turnout, because people were vying to be mayor. The 2006 election, when the mayor was acclaimed, drew some interest from the public, but not as much as its predecessors. The 2009 election was pretty bland.
It will be interesting to see if a third candidate for mayor steps forward. In the 2000 and 2003 elections, and the 2005 by-election, there were at least two people with Council experience running for mayor, but also one person who hadn't been part of Council previously. A third candidate can create vote splits and make an election even more unpredictable, but also generate more discussion.
Hopefully the reality of a mayoral election will also have a spin-off on the councillor election. It would be nice to have 10 or 12 strong candidates, as opposed to the eight that voters had to choose from three years ago. And those who are running for councillor can be certain to have more people interested in their race, thanks to the battle for mayor.