“That’s the result we were hoping for,” said Harris, adding the campaign went well as he visited with as many people as he could leading up to the municipal election.
“We put in the effort we could,” he added, as harvesting beets took him away from the campaign trail from time to time.
Harris hopes to serve the community that elected him and will do the job the community expects him to do, which is listen to their concerns and ideas.
“I will try to put them forward and put through the council and get the ideas and concerns dealt with,” said Harris, adding listening is the key.
“That’s what I said I would do — is listen to their concerns and represent Division 1 on M.D. council.”
Better roads are one of the concerns of the newly elected M.D. councillor’s division.
“Roads and infrastructure are always a big one. We did identify a few concerns, different areas, that have some legitimate concerns with the road or condition of the road,” said Harris.
According to Harris, getting fresh water or potable water to the yard is another valid concern expressed by Division 1 residents.
“Especially in Johnson’s Addition, they would like water and sewer and you have to work with the town to accomplish that for them. A few years ago there was a plan put forward to bring potable water out in the countryside from the Village of Barnwell. There’s some that want that to happen and others just say it’s unaffordable and unrealistic,” said Harris.
This will be the first time Harris has served in a political position such as a municipal councillor and he realizes there will be a learning curve associated with learning the ropes of an M.D. of Taber councillor.
“I’m sure the next little while will be a little overwhelming but you’ve got to start somewhere,” said Harris.
Reached late on election night, defeated incumbent Don Johnson highlighted his long service on council and reflected on the people who have supported him in the past.
“I worked my buns off, and I’ve had the privilege of representing this area for the M.D. of Taber for 18 years. The thing that I am so grateful for is the opportunity that the residents of my area have given me for the last 18 years, to be their representative. We’ve got a wonderful council. Bob Wallace got challenged up north, and he just barely won. That really surprised me, and I’m glad that Bob got back in. He’s had a really positive impact up there.”
Johnson pointed to the responsibilities and duties that go hand in hand with serving in office at the municipal level as representing a significant challenge for new members of council.
“The new guy replacing me (Merrill Harris) is going to have a very steep learning curve, and I hope he’s prepared to spend the time, because if you’re not prepared to spend the time, you shouldn’t even consider running. But the people have made a decision, and I accept what the people have said. I don’t think there’s anyone who gets on council for the first time that really fully appreciates the depth of commitment that’s involved. The meetings that we go to now are probably double what they were when I first got on council in 1995.”
While hinting at ethical issues regarding the municipal election campaign in the M.D. of Taber, Johnson noted he felt no bitterness about his election loss, but merely a sense of great disappointment.
“I truly am grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had. I’m deeply disappointed, but not bitter. I’m disappointed that some people lacked integrity in the process, and one can only surmise what their motives are. I think that Don Johnson will survive just fine. I know that my integrity is intact, and I can hold my head high. This is a great municipality, we’ve got a good council, we’ve got an incredible administration — they will do a good job.”