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Local politicians pleased with Kubinec's win

Byelection to fill now-vacant Westlock County council seat expected

May 01, 2012 06:00 am | By Doug Neuman | The Westlock News

Having an MLA who understands the challenges faced by municipalities will be a big benefit to the three communities within Westlock County, local elected officials say.

Former Westlock County Coun. Maureen Kubinec won a close race against Wildrose challenger Link Byfield in the April 23 election. As a Progressive Conservative, she will be part of the majority government in the Legislature.

Westlock County reeve Charles Navratil, Westlock mayor Bruce Lennon and Clyde mayor Wayne Wilcox all said that they were pleased by her win.

“I do believe it will be a good thing for Westlock and area,” Navratil said. “We have somebody there who really understands our problems, and I look forward to working with Maureen as our MLA for the next four years.”

He added that while it will be a benefit to have a local as a provincial representative, he believes Kubinec will treat all areas of the riding fairly.

Navratil said an added benefit is that the PCs maintained a majority, meaning the area’s rep will help make decisions at the provincial level.

“I hope it’s going to mean we will continue to get the same support we got from Ken (Kowalski), and I don’t see why we won’t,” he said.

In terms of the overall provincial results, Navratil said premier Alison Redford’s promise to continue with the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding will be a big help for all municipalities. “It makes it a lot better for municipalities when you know what you can expect,” he said.

Lennon agreed that one of the biggest benefits to seeing the PCs return to power is the continuation of MSI funding, which helps with long-term plans. He also expressed that he was pleased the local candidate won, since they are already well passed the getting-to-know-you stage.

“We’ve worked with her with the county and so have some familiarity with her,” he said. “We feel the lines of communication are open and overall, that should make things work well within our community.”

He added that personally, he was pleased the PCs won out over the Wildrose since he is not sure that party would have been as supportive of municipalities as the PCs have been.

Wilcox said he was also pleased to see the PCs in general, and Kubinec in particular, win the election. “I’m not sure with Link Byfield. I’ve never met the gentleman, and only ever seen him briefly at forums,” he said. “I’m not sure how much he knows about Clyde or what we do.”

He added the fact the PCs had to fight for their victory will help ensure they stay in touch with Albertans.

“There were a lot of good things brought up by the other parties, and if they were paying attention like they say they were, we might get some good stuff out of it,” he said.

Byelection expected

There is likely to be a byelection called to replace Kubinec on county council, but no official decision has been made.

Navratil said that since the provincial results are not considered official until May 3, the issue won’t be discussed until the May 8 county council meeting.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’ll be having a byelection,” he said. “Nothing’s official; we’ll make it official on the eighth.”

With about a year and four months left until the next municipal election – elections in Alberta are held on a triennial basis with the next one scheduled for Oct. 21, 2013 – Navratil said it would be good to have the vacant seat filled.

“I just think it’s good to fill the position if there’s somebody willing to step up, and maybe let them get their feet wet for a little over a year and give them a feeling of what it’s like to continue on into the next term.”

Kubinec has been on a leave of absence since the election campaign began March 26.

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