Meet the candidates running for Humboldt council

HUMBOLDT — With the closing of the nomination deadline, members of the Humboldt community have the choice of six councillors and their mayor.

Fourteen people have put their names in the running for council seats, while the mayoral race will see Michael Behiel, Harley Bentley and Lorne Pratchler compete  for the top spot.

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Mayor

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Michael Behiel

A city councillor is making a bid for the mayor’s chair in the upcoming civic elections.

Michael Behiel has announced that he will be running for the top spot in the Monday, Nov 9. election.

The decision came after discussions with Mayor Rob Muench about his intentions not to run for mayor again.

Behiel said the city needs a leader with council experience to shepherd the next council and keep long term projects moving forward.

“I'm very proud of the steps that the city council and administration have taken in the last four years to make this city a great place, and I want to see those works continue.”

Behiel grew up in Humboldt and always considered it the best place to live. Even after he moved away for a time, he always said he wanted to move back to Humboldt when he retired. He wants everybody to feel pride in their community, and that starts with the teamwork of the council, staff, and the residents.

“This is everybody's city and I want to make sure that everybody continues to be able to respect it, have a say in it, and appreciate the work that's being done.”

Behiel was elected in 2016 to the city council and owns and operates Behiel Tax and Accounting from his main street office. He wanted to be part of the solutions, he said, because there are always problems that need solving or direction and he urges everyone to put their names on the ballots.

The candidate said council needs a cross-section that properly represents the community, and that takes people from all different demographics who have integrity stepping up and putting their names on the ballot.

 

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Harley Bentley

Following the last municipal election, Harley Bentley said he could feel the support he got from the residents of Humboldt.

There are people who want him to be mayor, he said, so he will continue to show his dedication to Humboldt by running again for the coveted seat.

With so many former councillors leaving the council table, there is going to be a wealth of ideas coming for the future with many new names on the ballot, he said. While they need to continue the work that has already been done, Bentley said he is excited for the new things coming from this upcoming council.

“There's going to be a lot of new ideas come up on the table. I look forward to working with new councillors and getting some other things on the agenda.”

Among these new ideas are some safety issues that have been on Bentley’s mind for a while, he said.

“Seeing the developments that have happened and ones that have been pushed aside, there’s a lot of new things that need to be brought to the table. That's my main concern.”

Bentley has been a resident of Humboldt for the last 25 years, he said, and he feels he knows where Humboldt has come from and where it is going.

 

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Lorne Pratchler

A city councillor is running for mayor because he wants to continue the work done by council over the last four years.

Lorne Pratchler said it has been a good four years of strong leadership at the Humboldt city council table

Muench has set a strong example for the incoming mayor, he said, which is a standard Pratchler would follow if he was elected as mayor.

“I look very highly upon Mayor Muench’s time as mayor. There are attributes that a mayor needs to possess in order to move a city: he was a good listener, he was predictable, he was comfortable. We take those characteristics of his and we can continue moving that into all aspects of leadership in our city.”

Pratchler was first elected to council during the 2016 election and is proud of the work that has been done by city council and staff. The downtown study from 2017 is still in use today, Pratchler said, and he is happy to see the city taking the study to heart.

Being a part of a strong council being backed by excellent administration, Pratchler said he still wants to be a part of that, especially with some major projects still coming down the pipes, including the lagoon upgrades which is waiting on federal funding.

Pratchler sees a lot of pride that goes into the work of city directors and their ability to hire great staff. The co-operation between city departments is great to see, he said, especially when they are all working towards the common goal of making Humboldt a better place.

“That's the thing that gets me motivated every day is to work within that team.”

 

Councillor

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Michaela Fetter

Michaela Fetter said she believes her experience as a safety and human resource professional will be an asset to the city council.

Growing up in Watson, Fetter said they always tried to shop locally in her home community, but Humboldt was never far away.

Humboldt is a desirable place for the whole area to come to shop and for entertainment, she said, and she wants to work to keep it that way.

Rob Muench has done an outstanding job as mayor over the past four years, she said, and she wants to continue that work with a fresh perspective and a professional approach, including strengthening Humboldt’s economy and supporting local business.

“I want to continue to focus on infrastructure replacement, focus on momentum and progress, strive to have vacant commercial properties full... I'd also like to come up with effective solutions to help businesses, especially small businesses, overcome the effects of COVID. That's a new kind of thing that's been added to the council table.”

Having a diverse council is important in Humboldt, Fetter said, so seeing all the young people and women running has been great to see.

“I feel like our council should have more of a diverse background. I feel like if you have that different opinions and perspectives, [life from] younger generations and as well as women, it's easier to see progress and get things done.”

Fetter will be using social media to campaign for her council seat, and will always be open to people bringing their concerns forward.

 

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Kelly Herperger

While some people agonize over their decision to run for city council, for Kelly Herperger it was an obvious choice.

Being the daughter of former mayor Mark Seidel – who is also excited to see her run for council – Herperger spent a lot of time in the council chambers as a child and now is taking the opportunity to put her name on the ballot.

“I always wanted to try this field, and I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to do it.”

The members of the current city council have been taking it in the right direction, she said, and she wants to help continue to make that happen.

“We have some great people running [for council] and we've had a great council in the past. [I want to] keep the ball rolling and go forward and just keep promoting Humboldt.”

However, there are other city issues that need to be addressed, she said, including how best to promote the city. There isn’t a centralized place to check for restaurants or events in the city, like Saskatoon or Calgary already has, and Humboldt could use that, she says. There isn’t even a place to get a Humboldt t-shirt, she said.

While Herperger has recently backed away from volunteering, she has loved working with the Futuristic Industries board and the Humboldt Broncos.

 

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Philip Hinz

Long time Humboldt resident Philip Hinz has put his name on the city council ballot because Humboldt needs good people on council, he said.

Going into the next council term, he wants to see good financial management and control on spending but he also likes what he is seeing with recreational goals the city continues to work on, like the north park plans and the work at Centennial Park and the Uniplex. These facilities are important for young people, he said.

Hinz has been living in Humboldt since 2008 and enjoys working on his 100-year-old house with his wife. The city is a great place for everyone to live, he said.

“We have so much potential. We have so many great people here. The people that have lived here for a long time and also the newcomers that have come here. I have friends that have come here from all over the world, and they're wonderful people, and we need more immigration.”

Having worked with the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool as a grain elevator manager, Doepker Industries and Bourgault Industries, Hinz said he didn’t have much time to volunteer but that changed as soon as he retired. He is serving his second term on the Humboldt Co-op board and has volunteered at his church with music ministries and with the Muenster Flyers.

Hinz loves going for walks around the city so he will have no problem going door-to-door to talk to people about the election, he said.

 

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Tawnie Johnson

Tawnie Johnson didn’t really have a sense of home before moving to Humboldt in 2007.

Growing up in Alberta and moving 24 times before she was 10 years old, Johnson said she felt immediately welcomed in Humboldt and wanted to raise her family here.

This combined with her long-time interest in politics has led Johnson to put her name on the ballot for the upcoming municipal election for the City of Humboldt.

Supporting the community, especially as a city council, is vital to helping Humboldt residents thrive, she said.

While Johnson said she is happy to see infrastructure improvements to the city, she added there is always more that could be done to support more youth programming and small businesses in the area.

Johnson has been working at Prairie Diesel for the last eight years, so she sees first hand the importance that small businesses play in Humboldt.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the community, she said.

Going to events around Humboldt has been important to Johnson and her family. Many events dry up if people stop supporting them so Johnson tried to go to as many as she could before COVID. Seeing the great work that is happening at both Little Lizzy’s Intergenerational Learning Centre and the Humboldt Public School School Community Council, Johnson said she cannot say enough good things about the wonderful people in Humboldt that are caring and educating her two kids.

 

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Larry Jorgenson

Larry Jorgenson announced that he will once again run for a seat at the council table.

Jorgenson announced on Facebook on Oct. 5 that he is “humbly” asking for votes on Monday, Nov. 9.

First elected back in 2012, Jorgenson has served under Mayors Eaton and Muench and would like to continue sharing his experience with the eventual new members of the council.

“There are going to be new faces around the council tables. To provide continuity to this new council, I am hopeful that voters will return the incumbents who have chosen to run again,” said Jorgenson in a Facebook post announcing his council candidacy. “Our experience, balanced with new ideas and energy from some new councillors, will allow our momentum as a council and a community to continue through 2024 and beyond.”

As a potential mentor for the upcoming council members, Jorgenson said he wants to save members from having to learn things the hard way like he did.

“There's experience that I've gained over the last eight years that will be useful for me to pass on to anyone who's sitting around the council table.”

Jorgenson first moved to Humboldt in 1992 and has been a professional engineer at Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) since 2006. Jorgenson has been an active volunteer with Arts Humboldt, the Humboldt Jaycees, and the council rep with the Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce.

“My background with non-profit groups and my professional career as an engineer are a benefit to city council in my opinion,” he said in the Facebook post.

There are many things still happening on council that Jorgenson wants to continue to be apart of, including the lagoon project and the Humboldt Broncos memorial

Jorgenson has been part of the memorial committee since it was formed, he said, and he wants to continue to represent the council as the process moves forward.

He said he wishes the best of luck to all candidates and thanks the community for the support he has received since 2012. He is looking forward to meeting with people and discussing important city issues.

 

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Amanda Klitch

Born and raised in Humboldt, Amanda Klitch knows the benefits of having a great community.

That is why she wants to run for a seat at the City of Humboldt council table.

Klitch said that while the current council made a great team, new ideas are never a bad thing.

Having more women at the table also means different perspectives and a more well-rounded council, she said.

“I want to make sure that I’m if I’m going to be on the council that I’m serving everybody.”

Klitch works at Elite Salon and Spa and has been involved with a wide range of community organizations, including the JCIs from 2009-19, the OnStage Dance Festival and Partners Family Services. Her job and her volunteering allows her to meet and speak with people on a regular basis. Becoming a councillor would be no different, she said, and having that ability to listen would make her a good councillor.

“I want to make sure that I hear what people’s concerns are and I listen to people and go from there. It’s not me that I’m concerned about, it’s more this whole community.”

While the previous council has been working hard on infrastructure projects, Klitch said she would like to see more growth in the community.

 

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Roger Korte

Running for council has always been something that Roger Korte has wanted to do, he said.

Now is the time, with Korte running in the upcoming municipal election along with 14 other council hopefuls.

As a long time journeyman autobody technician and a former volunteer with the Humboldt Broncos and the Humboldt Jaycees, Korte wants to be at the table to continue making good choices for the city while bringing new ideas to the table, he said.

He’s not coming in with an agenda, he said, just the focus and the desire to make good decisions as a councillor.

Having so many people running in the election is great to see, he said, since that does mean that people are interested in joining the discussion, especially with the mix of men and women wanting to be at the table.

“[It] shows good interest in the city. It's good to see the numbers are up.”

 

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Darcy Leonew

Darcy Leonew, who is currently a captain for the Humboldt Fire Department, has announced his bid to join city council.

Leonew has been with the department for 40 years, with the last five serving as captain.

With his bid for council, Leonew said he is stepping down from the department by mid-October.

“I got to this point in my life after 40 years with the fire department, it was just time for me to do a change in my life and council seemed to be the right approach for me to go,” Leonew said. “It’s just the right time in my life to do something like this.”

Outside of firefighting, Leonew has worked at a steel shop in Humboldt for the past 35 years.

“I would like to bring to the city some new ideas, and carry on with the existing ideas and things they have going on right now.”

In the coming weeks as the date draws nearer to the election, Leonew said he will be creating a list of all the committees and community groups he has served on.

“This is just one more thing I would like to do for my city that I’ve lived in all my life, and running for council and bringing some new ideas to the table is just a step forward for me and something I would like to try.”

 

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Megan MacInnis

Megan MacInnis has spent 11 years with the Humboldt and District Community Services and now she wants to make even more of a difference in the community by running for city council.

MacInnis said she has a lot of ideas for the upcoming term, adding that it is a learning opportunity as she is interested in learning how the council works. Especially from a personal side, MacInnis said she likes to stay informed about what is going on in the city and this would be another way to do that.

Even while working full-time with three kids and being active in the community, MacInnis recently worked towards a business certificate through distance learning, so she said she knows she has the determination to work towards her goals, she said, including a seat at the council table.

Beyond her work life, MacInnis also volunteers in many different places across the city, including the Humboldt Ball Development Board and their fundraising effort for the ball diamonds at Centennial Park, organizing Humboldt Slo-pitch during the summer, coaching her daughter’s minor softball team, and serving as a committee member for Humboldt KidSport.

With 14 people running for six council seats, MacInnis is happy to see people caring about their community in this way, especially with so many women and young people running for council seats. MacInnis said she hopes this inspires other young people to run in future elections.

With COVID-19 awareness being such a huge thing this year, MacInnis is not comfortable going door-to-door, and she is sure there are others that feel the same way. She will be using social media to campaign and reach out to people in the community, she said.

 

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Rob Muench

While he’s not running for mayor again, Rob Muench will still have his name on the ballot.

In the Monday, Nov. 9 election, Muench will be running again for one of six councillor seats.

There is still a lot of unfinished business that he still wants to be a part of, he said, like the lagoon upgrades that have just been recommended for federal funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

“I'd like to see it happen with no new tax increases or levies, and I think that's doable with the amount of debt we have and will pay off in the next few years. We can use that savings to fund that system. That's what's desperately needed in our community.”

Other ongoing projects include the flood mitigation engineering study, asset management, and continued improvements for Highway 5, Highway 20 South and 16th Street.

Muench was first elected to the council table in 2006 and won the mayor’s seat in 2016. His decision to not run for the mayor position was due to balancing work, home life and council.

With all the hardships the city had to face, Muench said he would like to thank the city staff for all their hard work and accomplishments in the past four years.

 

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Roger Nordick

Roger Nordick has announced he will be running for council again for at least one more term.

Nordick was first elected in 2012 and said he is proud of the work council has done since then. While the city has faced some program cuts over the years in order to balance the yearly budget, Nordick said he wants to continue to speak up for Humboldt’s newcomers and seniors, including when it comes to maintaining tax rates.

“We know there’s always going to be tax increases but we need to still maintain them as low as possible.”

With many councillors unsure of whether they are stepping down from their council seats or running for another term, Nordick said that his plans to run again might ensure some continuity from one council to another for the city’s long term plans.

At the end of the day, Nordick said he wants to continue playing a role in local politics and he and the rest of the councillors are humbled to do so in Humboldt.

For anyone who is considering running for council, they need to be able to dedicate time to the process, he said.

 

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David Rowe

David Rowe knows the importance of people serving their community. As a long-serving teacher and coach at Humboldt Collegiate Institute, he tried to teach that to his students and players.

Now Rowe wants to take his own public service one step further as a city councillor with his name on the ballot for the upcoming municipal election.

Rowe said he has put in countless hours volunteering in the community, as a member of the Humboldt Minor Hockey board, and as a hockey, football and basketball coach. His love of his community has been a big reason for that.

Not only does the community benefit from volunteers but people themselves feel better about themselves when they give time to others. One of the ways people can do that is by running for city council and giving of themselves that way, Rowe said.

Since moving to Humboldt 24 years ago, Rowe said he knew Humboldt had something special.

“I quickly realized it was a great place to raise a family. I raised my kids here and I want to make the city even more attractive for families and business.”

The previous council has been doing an amazing job improving infrastructure, including the roads and ball diamond improvements in the last few months, and Rowe would like to continue that, he said. There is also much to be done in the way of improving the art scene in the community.

Seeing his students develop their musicals and put on band and choir recitals in the HCI commons area, Rowe said they deserve better by way of a community theatre space and many other groups would benefit from that as well, including the OnStage dance festival and dance company for their recitals.

 

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Carrie Ann Schemenauer-Hradecki

Putting her name on the Humboldt civic ballot, Carrie Ann Schemenauer-Hradecki said she wants to advocate for those in need and will bring a motherly perspective to the council table.

Being a teacher, a board member for many local organizations, a public speaker, and a volunteer, Schemenauer-Hradecki said she has the experience to be a councillor and wants to make common-sense decisions.

Schemenauer-Hradecki grew up in Lake Lenore and lived in Humboldt in her 20s. Working with the Carlton Trail Regional Economic Development Authority as an instructor, she knows the area, she said, and got to research the local economy and business in the area and attended RM meetings in the area.

Vulnerable populations like seniors and children need a voice, she said, and she wants to provide that voice for people across the city.

In previous positions, Schemenauer-Hradecki said she, “tried to advocate for people that don't have a voice, or their voice isn't the loudest one.”

Most importantly, Schemenauer-Hradecki said she has the heart for her community and appreciates how great Humboldt

“What a fantastic city we have and we're so lucky to be here. After living in other places, other cities, other communities, I just can't get over how blessed we are in Humboldt with the services we have, how beautiful our city is, and the potential of our city.”

Looking at different tourism ideas for the region, Schemenauer-Hradecki said more should be done to celebrate the German heritage of the area. Before the Humboldt German Club disbanded, Schemenauer-Hradecki was an active member, she said, and took part in St. Nicholas Days in the city.

 

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Caitlin Senko

Growing up in Humboldt, Caitlin Senko said she has seen a lot of wonderful things come to the city, especially in the last few years.

With the upcoming municipal election, Senko wants to become part of making the city even better but putting her name on the city ballot.

Supporting Humboldt businesses, commerce, and infrastructure are important to her, she said, so she wants to continue the work that councils have completed in the past.

“We’ve seen a lot of major infrastructure projects in the last few years and there’s a few more on the horizon, like the lagoon and the north side park. Those things are really important for the people who currently live in Humboldt to make their lives better, but also for attracting more young families and small businesses.”

Senko has worked closely with the City of Humboldt in the past, she said, and has worked in various fields where she has gained experience with insurance and advertising. She doesn’t make decisions on a whim, she said, doing research, asking questions and using the information wisely.

“A lot of people want change, and this is an opportunity to help make those changes and help give people voices and to help Humboldt grow and help voices who maybe haven’t been heard in the past be heard in the future.”

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