Ken Waddell says frustration is the root reason behind his surprise decision to resign as mayor of Neepawa.
Waddell handed in his resignation on Wednesday and it took effect immediately.
"I just don’t feel I can handle it any more, it’s just too stressful … physically, I’m fine. It’s emotionally, I’m a bit drained," Waddell said in an interview after he handed in his letter of resignation.
Waddell outlined the reasons for his departure in the interview and in a press release in which he made it clear he will not run for mayor as he’d previously planned.
"Things have kind of, I think, mounted up a bit in the last two or three months," he said. "I just had to re-examine whether I wanted to do this."
Waddell was elected mayor in a byelection on Feb. 28, 2012, and replaced Ron Forsman who resigned the previous December due to health reasons. Waddell was previously mayor from 1998 to 2002.
He told the Brandon Sun that he decided to resign about three days ago, after discussing matters with his wife, Christine, and his family.
Waddell states he can no longer handle the workload and stress of being mayor, and there are too many things that need to change.
For one, he says he feels muzzled at times by town rules.
He says the Municipal Act requires the mayor to vote on every resolution, but town rules state the mayor can’t debate those resolutions.
As a result, Waddell said, the mayor shoulders much of the responsibility for decisions that he or she has no input into.
Waddell seems to be referring to a section of the town bylaw regarding council meetings that states: "If the chair desires to present or second a motion, or participate in debate, he must leave the chair and call upon one of the members to fill his place until he resumes the chair."
In addition, he said that over the years, he hasn’t agreed with council on human resource issues. He said council gets too involved in such issues, although he wouldn’t elaborate in his interview.
Forced municipal amalgamation by the provincial government also proved disappointing, Waddell said.
He said a chance was missed for area municipalities to merge into a "megamunicipality." Instead, the RM of Langford joined with the RM of North Cypress, the RM of Lansdowne joined with the RM of Glenella, and Neepawa and the RM of Rosedale stand alone.
"We should have taken the opportunity to establish a regional municipality or megamunicipality that had some clout and would have really, truly reflected our market area," Waddell said.
He also expressed regret at the lack of a new fire hall and lack of progress on housing, sewer, water and street improvements.
Robyn Copeland, Allan Drysdale and Sheri Grant were the only councillors available for immediate comment Wednesday afternoon.
Each expressed surprise at Waddell’s decision and stated there was no rift in council that would lead to such a decision.
"We didn’t see anything coming because things were running really well," Grant said.
"He will be missed in council, that’s for sure," Copeland said. "He chaired the meetings well and led a good council."
Grant and Copeland agreed with Waddell that Neepawa faces a costly challenge in building housing and infrastructure needed to meet a growing population, but Copeland said council is starting to work on those issues.
"There certainly is a lot of stress involved in a growing community, and sometimes that takes a toll on leadership," Copeland added.
Besides stepping down as mayor, Waddell will phase out his other community duties. He’s already off all town committees, and says he’s finishing his last term on the Lily Festival and Yellowhead Centre boards.
Waddell said he has no other political aspirations at this time.
He said he intends to focus on his family and on business interests.
He and his wife will continue as publishers and owners of my Westman.ca, the Neepawa Banner and the Rivers Banner.
Town CAO Richard Beachey said that, under the Municipal Act, with less than 12 months to go to the next civic election, council has the option of not holding a byelection to fill the mayor’s seat.
It can appoint someone to the role for the remainder of the term, and all council members are eligible.
That decision is on the agenda for the July 15 council meeting.