After a feisty candidate race, Saturday evening’s preliminary results revealed that Leo Facio was re-elected mayor of Harrison Hot Springs.
This will be Facio’s fourth term as mayor in the Village. The long-time Harrison resident was voted in as mayor for the first time in 2005, retaining the position until 2011. He was voted in again in 2014 and will once again take the seat at the head of the table following Saturday’s election.
“It was a sigh of relief,” said Facio on winning the race. “I’m very happy and very pleased that the residents of Harrison Hot Springs gave me the opportunity to serve them for another four years. Obviously they have confidence in the amount of work we have done as a council…Not ‘I’ as a person but as a council over the years, and all the great improvements we have made to Harrison.”
Facio is joined on council by incumbent councillor Samantha Piper and newcomers Gerry Palmer, Ray Hooper and Michie Vidal.
That means Harrison has only two incumbents returning to council. But Facio said he’s not worried about getting started with some fresh faces, he just hopes the Village can be patient while the new council learns the ropes.
“This is not my first time with a new council,” he said. “Back in 2005 when I was first mayor I had a brand new council… so I feel very excited.”
“I would just ask the public, when the new council is sworn in, to give us the opportunity to move forward and try and get through the learning experience…We have a lot of projects still to complete, so the new council has got to get on board with learning…procedural bylaws, conflicts of interest,” he added.
Facio said the new councillors will receive an orientation from management staff and will be sent to a local government academy in the new year.
What comes next
Facio campaigned on a platform that promised fiscal responsibility, infrastructure upgrades, community connections and strategic planning. A four-year strategic plan created with the new council will “guide council with short and long-term goals” and “align with the Official Community Plan (OCP), according to his platform.
And Facio said he is planning a public open house in the new year where residents can give their input on what they want or don’t want to see in the community.
But this isn’t necessarily the place for residents to bring their qualms about development.
Facio said those conversations would need to happen in public consultations regarding the OCP – where zoning can be determined. He hopes to review the OCP with the new council at some point in 2019.
When it comes to the online bullying, posting and arguing that has plagued Harrison politics, Facio said he will do what he can to stop the cyber-attacks.
“I will reiterate this again to the public: please research before you move forward with anything on Facebook,” he said. “Come in, there will be new councillors happy to speak with you. My door is always open. Our staff is very professional in what they do. You can come in and ask them questions or sit down and read the minutes if you wish, or look through the OCP or our zoning bylaw.”
Facio added, “I think what the public has to understand is if they read the community charter, I know its boring, that the mayor does not have authority over everything. I am a member of council and the council is the governing body of the community.”