Roy Ludwig has spent the last 18 years as a councillor on Estevan City Council; now he’s been elected to spend the next four years as Estevan's mayor.
Ludwig captured 1,813 of the 3,024 votes cast in the October 24 civic election, which amounts to slightly less than 60 per cent of the votes cast. Lynn Chipley was second with 912 votes (30.2 per cent) and Jim Halladay was third with 299 votes (9.8 per cent).
Ludwig jumped out to a big lead early on. He captured 61 of the 91 votes at one mobile poll that was at four senior citizen homes in the city, and 58 of the 100 votes at another mobile poll.
"I was surprised at the first poll, but I think the second poll proved to be fairly accurate of the voter support," said Ludwig.
His advantage continued to build as the results came in. He captured 350 of the 555 votes at polling station No. 2, which included residents between Sixth Street and King Street. Polling station No. 3 – for residents who lived south of Sixth Street – saw him garner 575 of the 856 votes cast. He captured at least half the votes at all six polling stations in the city.
He said he felt good about his chances entering the election, but he wasn't sure what the results would ultimately be. People he spoke to were supportive and positive, he said, and they came forward with good ideas, some of which hadn't been discussed previously.
The victory caused him to reflect on his accomplishments during his 18 years as a city councillor.
"Probably my largest accomplishment, and I could not have done it without the citizens of Estevan, and the full support of Council, as well the province … and the federal government, would be Spectra Place," said Ludwig, who chaired the Spectra Place building committee. "Now that we have that built, we can move on.
"I'm hoping to see, even within the next four years, a new nursing home, which … is sorely needed in our community," said Ludwig.
Affordable housing, physician recruitment and retention, the acquisition of needed medical equipment for St. Joseph's Hospital, and repairs for Estevan's roads were other issues that he emphasized during his campaign.
He does expect he'll occasionally have to turn to the previous mayor, Gary St. Onge, for advice on how to run the city.
"Gary and I thought along the same lines," said Ludwig. "Of course, our approaches probably will be different, because we have different philosophies. I think Gary did a good job for the city, and I'm looking forward to taking over from where Gary left off, and continuing … with moving the city forward in a positive fashion.
He hopes that all councillors will feel free to think on their own, but at the same time, they'll have the common goal of moving the city forward.
New members will have to go through orientations. Once that process is finished, Ludwig said he would like Council to embark on long-term planning, which will see them examine where they want to be in five, 10, 15 and 20 years. Not only would the plan look at infrastructure, but it would examine a fire hall for the northern half of the city and other issues.
They'll also have to worry about budget deliberations, which will be happening in late November and early December.
"Financially, I think we have to be good stewards of our bank accounts, and I think as we go through the next budget, I'm hoping that Council will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder on that regard, and that is watching the fact that we are carrying a heavy debt burden," said Ludwig.
"Although we want to do as many things for our citizens as we can, we have to be aware of the fact that we don't want to overburden the already fairly substantial debt that we have as we move forward," said Ludwig.
He said he'll Chipley's absence on Council. She had been a councillor since 2006. Ludwig described her as a very bright councillor, who worked hard and had a lot of good ideas.
Chipley saw her tenure on City Council come to an end. She said she was happy to receive the support of a third of the voters, but was disappointed that she won't be on Council in the next term.
"But seven good people have been elected," said Chipley. "They will take good care of the city, and keep the things that we started going, and I'll remind them every once in a while that if I see that hasn't been getting done that needs to be done."
A third of the voters saw the need for the type of change that Chipley was ready to bring to Council, she said, but the rest believe that Council is headed in the right direction.
She expects that she will remain engaged and involved in the community through avenues such as Leisure Services and the Estevan Chamber of Commerce.
Chipley believes that her greatest accomplishment during her six years on Council was getting people to take notice of pathways and green spaces. Some people view them as small or insignificant issues, but Chipley said they're important, and upgrades for those amenities must continue.
Ludwig is well-groomed for the role as mayor, she said. He's well aware of what will be expected of him, and he's likely been a part of most of the committees in the city over the last 18 years.
Halladay was gunning for the mayor's chair even though he has no previous Council experience. The long-time Estevan resident said he doesn't regret running for mayor as opposed to councillor.
"I think I made the right decision," said Halladay. "I gave it a shot, and I wish all the best to Mr. Ludwig in the next four years."
The next Council has to work towards revitalizing infrastructure in the community, he said especially since there is the potential for serious growth in the community, with all of the different projects that are happening in the area. Estevan also has to develop some affordable housing, and it needs to address infrastructure needs other than just road repairs.
"Most of the concerns (I heard) were spent on infrastructure," said Halladay. "Affordable housing was the No. 2 concern."
He lamented that more people didn't turn out to vote.
"I thought there would be more people who would want some change and some new ideas on Council, but obviously there seems to be a lack of real interest in the City," said Halladay.
There were about 1,350 more people who voted in this election than three years ago, when there was just a councillor election, but in 2003 – the last time there was a mayoral and councillor election – there were 3,800 voters.
Results from the election were to be declared official at 2 p.m. on October 25.