Veteran politician Gwen O’Connell is running for city council in Pitt Meadows, after having served 21 years.
First elected to city council in 1993, O’Connell has been a near fixture on city council, with the exception of the 2014 election, when she lost her seat in a close race, and a three-year break in 2005. She was the longest-serving member of council last term.
O’Connell said she can benefit city council by providing decades of institutional memory and a unique perspective. She has seen numerous senior staff members at city hall come and go through her council career.
“It’s awesome to look forward, but you have to remember where you came from,” she said.
O’Connell said the city councillors she has served with for the past four years has been a positive group, and she supported Nicole MacDonald in her bid for mayor. MacDonald went unopposed, winning the seat by acclamation.
“We didn’t always agree on everything,” she said of the council. “But there’s good people on council.
“Overall, even with COVID, it was mostly positive.”
O’Connell said the past council was set apart by its focusing a lot of energy on a new fire hall, and creating an independent RCMP detachment in the past term.
“There’s been more public safety issues that we’re concerned about,” she said.
A focus for her will be how the city meets the challenge of maintaining its small-town charm, and still delivering all the amenities the public expects.
“People move to Pitt Meadows for the peace and quiet of smaller communities, and the challenge is to deliver big-city services,” she said.
O’Connell has lived in Pitt Meadows for more than 40 years, working with seniors, and raised two children here.
She has served on numerous boards and committees through her decades of service including the board of directors for the Friends in Need Food Bank, Ridge Meadows Community Services, Ridge Meadows Hospice, the Pitt Meadows Day Committee, Pitt Meadows Lions and more.
The municipal election takes place on Oct. 15.
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