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Weyburn city councillor to seek mayor’s chair in fall election

Weyburn city councillor Jeff Richards will be running for the mayor’s position in the fall municipal election, after serving for two terms.
Coun. Jeff Richards will be running for Mayor in the fall municipal elections in Weyburn.

WEYBURN – Weyburn city councillor Jeff Richards will be running for the mayor’s position in the fall municipal election, after serving for two terms.

In an interview, he said he’s been considering making this run for the last two or three years.

“I’ve got two terms under my belt, and I feel I’m ready for the next step,” said Richards, who currently works as the executive director of the Weyburn Wor-Kin Shop.

Asked what he would like to do if he’s elected as mayor, he said he would like to help create more of an open culture with the leadership team at City Hall.

“The mayor should be approachable so it’s more of a team atmosphere,” said Richards. “I’m not saying there isn’t one, but I think we could do better.”

As an example, he said when people bring a project in to City Hall for a permit or for help, “Let’s get to ‘yes’ faster. We need to work with them. I think the administration needs to be empowered to be creative in providing solutions.”

He said it’s often said, “We’ve always done it that way”, but this is an attitude he’d like to get away from.

Richards said as a city councillor, all of the members need to realize, “I am here to serve the people of Weyburn, all 11,000 people. My vision is to be at City Hall and be more available to the leadership team and develop more of a team culture.”

He will be taking time over the summer to develop a more detailed platform for the fall election, noting he has been talking to many people in the city about issues and problems.

One of his thoughts is for the city to work on growing its population, and would like to see a goal of adding another 500 people. With more residents and more businesses, there will be more tax revenue, and this would help finance some of the needs in the city, such as continuing to fix the city’s roads.

Richards would also like to see a multi-year budgeting process, where they deal with firm numbers for the current year, and lay out goals and plans for the next couple of years beyond that.

“In the coming years we’re going to need to have a new or expanded police station. If that’s five years from now, we need to be planning for that now,” said Richards.

There are always ongoing discussions around city facilities, but with multi-year budgeting, the city should start planning and budgeting for those projects in advance.

He noted the province does their budgets year-by-year, but for their larger projects, such as with highways, there are multiple years of plans laid out by each ministry as they set their priorities.

Richards also feels it’s important for the mayor to be working well with other levels of government, with the RM locally, as well as with the province and the federal government.

“One of the things I hear lots from people is they’re still struggling to get in to see a doctor,” he said, so as a mayor, he should be advocating with the government to not forget about them, particularly as Weyburn’s new hospital is being constructed.

“Right now we’re getting grant monies to redo First Avenue – we need to do a much better job in working with the government, but also in working with the RM,” said Richards.

He is a former member of the District Planning Commission with the RM and the City, and believes strongly in maintaining that cooperative relationship with them.

Richards has enjoyed his two terms on council, noting he is proud of such things as the youth council, which he has worked closely with.

He’s also proud of other issues he’s been involved with, such as the city’s development levy. He realizes it’s not perfect, “but it’s better than it was.”

Overall, he said, “I’ve learned a lot. I really value being able to provide that service to the people of Weyburn. It’s service, and I value that. I like think I have a natural leadership ability, and I would love to take that service to that level.”