Ponoka’s new mayor says the future vision for the town will ultimately come from residents and his fellow councillors.
Kevin Ferguson, who served one term as Ponoka town councillor, was elected by acclamation in the 2021 municipal election as the new mayor of Ponoka. He will officially take office as mayor once he is sworn in at the organizational council meeting on Oct. 26, 2021.
Ferguson had only been retired for six weeks as a teacher in the community for 25 years, when he put in his hat for town council in 2017.
For Ferguson, the transition into public office was a natural progression of his involvement in the community as a drama and social studies teacher. He had also served as Klaglahacie Fine Arts Society’s theatre director for four years.
Teaching social studies had sparked his interest in municipal government, and he jokes that after his hands-on experience in local government, if we went back to teaching, he’d be a far better teacher.
Actually working in municipal government is different than one might expect and there is a lot he was unprepared for as a new councillor, he says.
He will always be thrilled he decided to run for council and grateful for those who elected him that first time, he says.
Ferguson says his main job as mayor will be to listen: to the public as well as his fellow council members.
Ferguson is holding off on any pronouncements on his future vision for Ponoka, because first and foremost, he says he’s “just one voice.”
What he aims to do, is to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to put forward their ideas and opinions — something he says retiring mayor Rick Bonnett modeled well.
“At the end of the day, there’s six voices at the table.”
As all the candidates put forward their own ideas during their campaigns, those who were elected on those platforms will inform council about their mandate from the public, says Ferguson.
“The vision is about being a team, and all pulling together in the same direction for the benefit of our community,” said Ferguson.
“Ponoka comes first. That’s the reason we’re here — to make Ponoka better.”
Four years from now, Ferguson says he fully expects to feel the same way.
For the issues and projects this council will tackle, he says “only a team can sole them and only a team can cross the finish line.”
Moving forward, he will continue to advocate for developing and growing the town, while being mindful of the public’s needs as the province emerges from the pandemic, but the specifics will have to come as a consensus with the new council.
“I really want to sit down will all six councillors and put (the issues) all on the table,” he said, adding that as mayor, he has ideas, but his don’t supersede any others.
“That is where ‘vision’ will ultimately come from.”
Although all the former councillors ran again for council positions, Ferguson was unopposed for the position of mayor.
“It’s a bit emotional … the gratitude I have for the people who first elected me and the councillors I worked with, to put their faith in me … I’m totally blown away.”
Ferguson says so much of what the past council worked on was at a “human level,” and if the next council can move forward with that same level of passion, it will be amazing what they will be able to do for the community.
Municipal election results
The following candidates were elected on Oct. 18, and will join Ferguson on Ponoka’s town council: incumbents Ted Dillon (1,090 votes), Clayton Nelson (796 votes), Sandra Lyon (880 votes), Carla Prediger (979 votes) and Teri Underhill (873 votes), and newcomer Cal David.
David received the highest number of votes with 1,160.
Approximately 1,632 voters cast ballots in the Town of Ponoka 2021 municipal election. Voter turnout was about 30 per cent, according to the town, based on 2016 Statistics Canada Census data.
In Ponoka County, incumbents took the three available council spots. Councillors Paul McLauchlin and Bryce Liddle won their divisions by acclamation.
Mark Matejka, Division 2, was re-elected with 267 votes. Doug Weir was re-elected in Division 3 with 436 votes over Justin Krakowka with 242.
Nancy Hartford was re-elected in Division 5 with 239 votes.
Numbers of votes represent unofficial results as of Oct. 19.