It was standing room only as the City of Duncan swore in its new council on Nov. 5.
The newly inaugurated mayor Michelle Staples, the first woman to become mayor of Duncan, was joined in council chambers with five members of the new council for their inaugural meeting.
Councillor Carol Newington, who is currently on vacation in Asia, was not at the meeting.
Other than council veteran Tom Duncan, the other five councillors — Jenni Capps, Stacy Middlemiss, Garry Bruce, Newington and Robert Brooke — are all new to the table.
Each council member was given a few minutes to address the large crowd at the meeting.
Bruce, a local businessman, said the election campaign was a “huge learning curve” for him.
He said he knocked on doors all across the city to talk to people and hear their concerns during the campaign and discovered each area had their own issues, despite the small size of Duncan.
“It was fun and informative to hear people talk to me about what concerns them,” Bruce said. “I’m just getting my feet wet, but I’m excited by this new council. It’s a wonderful group of young people, except for me,” he said, referring to his age.
Middlemiss said she never thought that she’d be a politician, but she feels she’s exactly where she should be.
Middlemiss, a psychiatric nurse, said she is an advocate for the people who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.
“It’s important for me to be a strong female role model for my daughters and show them that they can do anything they set their minds to,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working with this new council.”
Long-time councillor Tom Duncan said the new council is a fresh start for all its members.
He said he’s happy with the diverse age range of council.
“I’m looking forward to getting our new members up to speed,” he said. “I hope we can hit the ground running and work hard for the next four years.”
Jenni Capps, who served as junior mayor on the city’s youth council for three terms, said she’s delighted to be on the council presided over by the city’s first female mayor.
“I couldn’t be more honoured,” she said. “I’m optimistic about what we will accomplish this term. I have a lot to learn and I can’t wait to get started at the work.”
Brooke, a business owner in the real estate industry, said he was humbled and honoured to be at the council table.
He said fiscal responsibility and using common sense to deal with the many issues facing the city will be the cornerstones of his time on council.
“I will follow these simple beliefs and I will always act in the best interests of the people of Duncan,” he said.
Although not at the meeting, Bruce read a letter that Newington had prepared.
She said she was humbled by the faith and trust of the city’s voters to elect her to council.
“Duncan is a wonderful city and I’m looking forward to continue the work that Duncan’s council has already started,” Newington said. “I will work with council to try and find solutions to the homeless, opioid and other issues facing the city.”
Staples said she recognizes there’s a wide variety of thoughts and opinions among council members, but she believes the new council will work together towards common goals.
“We have a bit of everything at the table that cuts across the political spectrum and ages,” she said.
“A lot of people are scared by what they see happening in the community in regards to homelessness and addictions, but we are not able to solve these problems at this table alone. We have to partner with other organizations and governments to find a way forward. These problems don’t know boundaries and it will take all of us working together to deal with them.”