After a decade of serving the County of Wetaskiwin and its residents on county council, Coun. Larry McKeever is retiring and will not be seeking re-election for another term in the approaching municipal election.
Prior to running in his first election in 2007 McKeever says the idea had never crossed his mind, and it was on the encouragement from neighbours that he entertained the prospect.
“I wasn’t that keen,” said McKeever.
“It main reason I ran was the incumbent was elected in 1992 … Nobody got to vote for 15 years,” he added.
McKeever says that year on nomination day he waited until five minutes before deadline to hand in his papers, just to see if there was going to be anyone running in Division 5 against the incumbent.
With creating a healthy democratic process in mind McKeever stepped up to the plate. “I just wanted someone to run against him.”
But three terms later McKeever says it is time for him to step aside and make room for a new councillor at the table.
“When I first ran I said I would only run for two terms and I broke that rule, I ran for three. It’s time for some new blood,” said McKeever.
From his first day on council to the end of this first term, to his entirety of time as a councillor, McKeever says it has been a learning process with some steep curves in the beginning.
“My first two terms I wasn’t as successful as I would like,” said McKeever, referring to votes when he majorly sat in a minority position.
McKeever says even when it may have been the unpopular opinion in the room he has always tried to ensure his decisions and votes were best for the ratepayers.
One example McKeever gives is from January 2008. “Council voted itself a 30 per cent raise; 6-1 vote. That was wrong, totally wrong.”
“It’s been very challenging. I haven’t won as much as I’d like. But the few things I have won I take a lot of pride and satisfaction in,” he added.
McKeever says throughout his time on council it has been his strategy to plant ideas, seeds, and nurture them until they sprout for the county. For him, allowing quads and snowmobiles to ride in county ditches was a priority from day one. Six years later it took effect.
“Ice and water rescue is another. It took eight years,” said McKeever.
“I was actively involved when the school board tired to shut 75 per cent of our rural schools down. That would have decimated the community,” he added.
McKeever is a veteran of the banking industry, and prior to settling along Wizard Lake often travelled and moved around for his work.
McKeever and his wife cottaged on their land from 1991 to 1998. “I built our house in ‘98.
He has family in the Pigeon Lake area and searched for years for land around that lake before happening upon the land at Wizard Lake. “I just wanted to live at a lake.”
With his impending retirement, McKeever says he will miss the challenges that come with serving on council. “I enjoy a challenge and I’ve always enjoyed the interaction.”
With the new election he would like to see more people get involved and get excited. “I think that makes for a healthier democracy.”
For any new councillors and the new council, McKeever says one main piece of advice, “Keep an open mind and be respectful of others’ opinions.”