Return of the rural reeve

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MD of Foothills council is returning to its roots.

The leader of MD council will once again be called “reeve” after a brief stint as mayor. Councillors voted Nov. 8 to repeal a December 2015 decision to call its chief elected official the mayor.

“During the recent election campaign, a lot of councillors were out there campaigning and talking to many residents, and a few of them came back and said there were a lot of people concerned that for a rural municipality the leader should be the reeve and for urbans it’s mayor, and it’s always been like that,” said MD Reeve Spilak.

It led to a conversation in council to reverse the decision to switch over to mayor and deputy mayor, a move initially intended to make the MD’s leader more recognizable in the community, particularly in more urbanized areas.

Spilak said though the mayor title is more widely known, those who live in the country and have rural roots understand the term reeve. Ultimately, it doesn’t change anything except the title, he said.

“There was no change of any responsibilities or duties, it’s exactly the same as what it was an mayor and previously as reeve,” said Spilak. “Either way, I’m proud to hold that position.”

Deputy Reeve Delilah Miller brought the conversation to the council table on Nov. 8. She said there had been some talk about potentially changing back.

“We’re rural, and we should stay as reeve and deputy reeve because people know if you’re rural that’s what we call our mayor,” said Miller. “Some municipalities, rural ones, have gone to mayor, but not very many.”

She said most people recognize the rural form of the mayoral position. For those who don’t understand, she said it’s time for the MD to educate the region.

When she’s asked about the title, she said she tells people it’s equivalent to an urban mayor.

It’s also a matter of ensuring the reeve has equal opportunity to speak as a representative of the rural municipality, she said.

She said it’s also necessary to educate people about the municipal district and the fact that it is a municipality with seven councillors, a reeve and deputy reeve, and a say at the provincial level like any urban centre.

“They think when you talk about municipalities it’s about towns and cities, and a lot of people don’t know what the rurals are municipalities as well,” said Miller. “For me it’s just educating people, the ongoing education of the importance of rural.”

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