Even though they are still one member short, the newly elected Thompson city council held their inaugural meeting Nov. 7.
After the councillors were sworn in by provincial court Judge Todd Rambow, Mayor Colleen Smook appointed the committee chairs and deputy mayor.
“The deputy mayor was somebody that I had worked with, that I know, that I know will do a great job, that can stand in for me at speaking engagements,” said Smook. “In doing that, I would like to appoint Kathy Valentino as my deputy mayor.”
“I recognize that we have difficult decisions ahead of us,” said Valentino, who previously served as deputy mayor under former mayor Dennis Fenske for two years. “But I think we are a good team and I look forward to making good and tough and well-informed decisions with all of you around the table. So thank you for the opportunity.”
Valentino was also appointed chair of the finance and administration committee and of the legislative and intergovernmental affairs committee.
Incumbent Judy Kolada will head the recreation and community services committee and second-term councillor Duncan Wong was put in charge of public works and infrastructure.
“I’m going to help the new councillors make Thompson better,” said Wong. “Of course, we’ll always have our disagreements sometimes, not always the same, but that’s OK. To me, that’s called democracy and, as long as we can come to the table and argue and discuss and make the better of Thompson, I’m all for it.”
The remaining committee chair positions were distributed evenly between rookie councillors Les Ellsworth (communications), Brian Lundmark (development review), Earl Colbourne (human resources) and Jeff Fountain (public safety).
The yet-to-be-determined final member of council, who will be selected through either a byelection or a judicial recount, will not receive a committee chair appointment right away.
Smook used the rest of Wednesday’s meeting to set the tone for her next four years in office, saying that transparency and communication in good faith will be big parts of her administration.
“We have opportunities to improve our communication between mayor and council, between city hall and our community,” she said to members of the public directly. “We want open minds and we want your feedback.”
The new mayor also acknowledged the presence of members of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and other surrounding communities who were in the audience that night, since she said they will be a vital part of securing the economic and cultural well-being of Thompson moving forward.
“We are also not just a community of 13,678. We’re a region and a community of 55,000-plus people,” said Smook. “We say we want to be the Hub of the North, let’s be the Hub of the North. Let’s be inclusive to all our communities out there.”
Smook ended Wednesday’s meeting by saying that her term in office will only be successful if the city and members of the public work together as a community and hold each other accountable.
“As my son Darcy once told somebody when I was getting one of my many awards, ‘It takes a lot of people to make my mother look good.’ So that’s what I expect from the community: it will take all of you to make me and council look good.”
Council’s first regular meeting of the 2018-2022 term is Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. following Monday’s stat holiday in lieu of Remembrance Day.