A three-term member of Brandon City Council has decided this will be her last year in office.
On Wednesday, Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres) told the Sun she has decided to retire from politics this October following her retirement from her job at Brandon University in April.
She became the second incumbent to announce their retirement from office after Mayor Rick Chrest revealed earlier this year his intent to leave politics.
While Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine) isn’t running for re-election in his ward, he has put his name forward to be the city’s next mayor.
Apart from wanting to retire, Chaboyer said after more than a decade in the position, it’s time to allow a new voice to join the council table.
When she first sought a spot on council 16 years ago, she said, she ran against an incumbent not because she wanted to attack them, but because she wanted to exercise her democratic right to do so and have the opportunity to serve the community.
That attempt wasn’t successful, but her next try four years later — 12 years ago — was.
"I don’t think anyone should be scared about running against an incumbent, but at the same time, I think there’s a point where you have to step back and realize that there are other people, too, who would like to be in that role as a councillor or mayor," she said. "I think that 12 years and three terms is a good timeline for a councillor."
Though Chaboyer said she wasn’t tempted to run for the mayor’s seat with Chrest retiring, she was approached by a few people asking her to consider campaigning.
Of the accomplishments she’s proudest from her tenure, she listed introducing an accommodation tax, working on the food council and bringing in more affordable housing units.
As Chaboyer progresses through the final four months of her term, she wants to keep an eye on the creation of a ward issue tracking system and drainage improvements currently in the works, especially with her ward having been vulnerable to overland flooding in the summer of 2020.
"With climate change and unpredictable weather patterns, we have to deal with drainage issues," Chaboyer said. "I’m glad our council has decided to dedicate a lot of funds to make it happen."
She said she’s glad to see the Food Rescue Store continuing its work toward increasing access to food and hopes the city will further embrace community gardens to produce fruit and vegetables. With vacant lots and abandoned gas stations in town, Chaboyer said those locations could be transformed into more community gardens or gathering spaces.
The councillor won’t be in public office after election day but expressed interest in progressing her efforts to make Brandon an age-friendly community and perhaps volunteering at the Park Community Centre.
She hopes the new city council this fall will focus on improving the downtown area and maintaining back lanes.
"I’d like to thank all the citizens of Brandon and my family for supporting me in this leadership role as a city councillor for 12 years," Chaboyer said.
"I find something special about all the councillors … but if I could point to one person, it would be Rick, our mayor. He’s been a great mayor and he’s been so inclusive, especially to me as a woman. Despite not being the most vocal, loudest councillor, he’s always made sure he’s allowed me to respond and speak."
Chaboyer’s departure means the city’s only woman official at the council table won’t be running for re-election. When announcing his exit from council, Chrest told the Sun he’d like to see council better reflect the diversity present in the city.
Asked what the city needs to do to foster an environment where women can get elected to council, Chaboyer said residents must respectfully listen to female candidates and female candidates must be willing to put their names forward.
"They’ll probably find they have 100 per cent support to go ahead and do it," Chaboyer said. "When it comes to the doorstep, people really don’t care about your background, gender or anything if you take their issues seriously."
Councillors who have announced their intent for re-election include Sunday Frangi (Meadows-Waverly), Shaun Cameron (University), Glen Parker (Riverview) and Barry Cullen (Victoria).
The registration period for mayoral candidates has already opened while the registration period for city councillor candidates starts on June 30.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark