By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
For the first time in several years, residents of Picture Butte were able to cast ballots in a municipal election, and have selected Crystal Neels as the Town’s newest councillor.
Mayor and council were acclaimed to their roles in 2017 and 2021. A by-election was held Nov. 7 to elect the Town’s new councillor, following the resignation of former councillor Scott Thompson in August. Crystal Neels secured 218 votes, followed by Mike Davies with 146 votes.
Following the election Neels said, “I am excited to be a part of council and to start involving the residents with what’s going on in the community,” Neels said, adding, “I want to be able to show the community that I am accountable, and will bring their concerns to the table and then actually (communicate) what was voted back to community members.”
Neels highlighted one of her top priorities is improving communication channels between the Town’s decision-makers and its residents. Recognizing the importance of an informed community, Neels highlighted she will work to foster transparency and accountability in her new role.
Neels said during her campaign, “I found that a lot of people really want to be a part of committees and organizations and boards within the town; they just don’t know how to go about it,” and said she would like to play a role as liaison by actively seeking resident input and participating in bringing resident’s concerns to town council meetings, and keep residents “in the loop” on local issues and policies.
Attracting more commercial and industrial investment to Picture Butte is another key goal.
“I have my business management and marketing education, and I have 24 years of business experience. I want to utilize my education and experience in marketing and communications and my entrepreneurial skills,” and added attracting new investments and commercial enterprise to town will be top of mind as she takes on her role as councillor.
“I did my best to hit every door in Picture Butte that I could while campaigning. It was really good prep for the job because I got to be able to talk to people, understand their concerns, and now I can bring that forward.”
Neels said she sees coming onboard in the middle of the term the term is an advantage.
“Now I have two years to learn. I have two years to learn and watch. Then when I run again, I have had two years of experience already.”
Neels said the process has been eye-opening, but is eager to tackle the challenges and work hard for the residents of Picture Butte.
“I have learned that if you’re going to put your name forward for any political position – I have a new appreciation for how much work it is. I am just looking forward to serving our town.”
Neels will be sworn in as a councillor at the Nov. 14 regular council meeting in Picture Butte. Meetings are also live-streamed; the link can be accessed at http://www.picturebutte.ca/content.php?p=33.