Dennis Primeau will run for re-election in Div 7.
Primeau is the last incumbent to announce his re-election bid and says he wanted to wait until the municipal inspection report went public Aug. 30. Former county councillor Bert Seatter is also seeking the Div. 7 seat.
“I was probably one of the key players to get that investigation going,” he said. “Fundamentally there is a lot of problems with Westlock County.”
Citing the Tawatinaw ski hill plebiscite that will be voted on during the election as the biggest task facing the new council, Primeau pledged to honour its results.
“There’s talk already that there’s councillors that will not abide by the plebiscite,” he said. “I can assure you that I will back the plebiscite no matter what it says. That’s the democratic process and that’s what we have to do. Morally we are bound by it.”
Primeau has been a prominent figure in what has been a colourful term, making national headlines last spring after then-reeve Bud Massey made a complaint of being assaulted by Primeau to RCMP. Primeau eventually apologized as part of a peace bond and the charges were withdrawn.
He was also cited in the municipal inspection report as berating the county’s fire chief in 2015 after the fire department responded to a 911 call involving a grass fire. Primeau was reported to have addressed the chief with “foul, threatening language. The report noted that the permit he was referring to was for a different property.
Primeau acknowledged that he would do things differently knowing what he does now, though he focused more on the various incidents involving former-CAO Peter Kelly and Massey.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that the conduct maybe wasn’t of the highest calibre,” he said. “But the things that happened in (council) were far worse. If we’re talking about the reeve (Massey at the time) trying to pressure employees, that was totally wrong and should never have happened. I would have never given Peter Kelly this much rope. Knowing what I know now, he would have been stopped long before he got this far.”
He lamented that council has limited power to effect change, suggesting that there was a need for more oversight of administration.
“There’s a lot of problems with the way municipal governments are set up. You elect a council and that council has very little power to do much of anything beyond strict guidelines around the budget and making sure the budget is followed,” he said. “But as you’ve seen in the Peter Kelly case, he didn’t have to budget or anything, he just did whatever he wanted. He’s fundamentally claiming that he got all this direction from council in-camera. But you have to have a motion out of camera that specifically states what you’re doing.”
Ultimately Primeau challenged ratepayers to make their votes count.
“Once we know who’s running, their positions need to be made abundantly clear,” he said. “It’s going to be the taxpayers’ responsibility to put in a better council than they did last time.”