Estevan residents selected the direction that they wanted for the community during the next four years, and they have opted for what appears to be a preference for steady, moderate growth.
They elected Roy Ludwig, a six-term city councillor who has experienced the joys of being on Council, but has also gone through some challenging years during the first half of his tenure as an elected official. Voters can expect Ludwig to bring many of the same attributes and philosophies as former mayor Gary St. Onge.
Those who were supporters of St. Onge during his tenure as mayor should be pleased with Ludwig's efforts. The two differ on some issues, but they do have a lot in common, not just with their passion for the community, but in terms of how they think Council should handle Estevan's growth.
Voters could have opted for Lynn Chipley, a two-term Council who has also been a strong proponent of Estevan, but has a desire to see things happen in a more expedient fashion. That's not to say that Chipley would have done a better job or a worse job than Ludwig, but they do have different philosophies, different approaches for handling the growth, different means to the same end, which is the betterment of the community.
They also had Jim Halladay as an option – a long-time Estevan resident who, thanks to his many years of experience running a taxi company, has as good of an idea about the challenges facing Estevan's infrastructure as anybody. But they went with Ludwig.
The next Council needs to emphasize strategic planning. Previous Councils have occasionally spent too much time discussing issues that shouldn't receive much attention at all in a growing city. Long-term planning needs to be a key component of the next Council's efforts; they need to decide where they're going to go, how they're going to get there, and how many people they want to have residing in the city in the next five to 10 years.
Discussions over liquor permits and table rentals aren't going to result in this city reaching its potential.
Council also needs to update its 30-year infrastructure plan that was released in 2005, while moving forward on such issues as road repairs, water main replacements and a fire hall for the north side of the city. And they need to implement curbside recycling.
During the election campaign, an individual who I have a lot of respect for remarked that the next Council will be behind the wheel of an economy that is a Ferrari. The new Council would be wise to remember that philosophy. It could make a big difference in the direction that they take the community over the next four years.