After 12 years and many sleepless nights Councillor John Jacobs is taking a step back from municipal politics.
The decision was not an easy one but Jacobs said he would not run as a councillor this year if at least 10 people put their names in; and on Sept. 23 those 10 showed up. Some pulled out however and Jacobs wishes he would have entered his name as a town councillor to give voters more options. “It definitely bothers me because had I known that I definitely would have run.”
Jacobs’s career as a councillor started in 2001 after being recruited by Ken Greenwell, the mayor at the time. Jacobs had been volunteering his time on the Ponoka Jubilee Library Board and with the trail committee. He was able to use the experience to help his endeavours as a councillor.
“I think when you join council, my own personal feeling…You should be on a board of some kind,” explained Jacobs.
He is proud of bringing the Trans Canada Trail through Ponoka, which was not the plan at the time. Jacobs also advocated strongly for other recreation amenities such as the skate park and the north trail bridge. Credit for those projects belongs to the entire council though.
“You’re part of a team. When you’re part of a team you can take credit,” says Jacobs.
One of the biggest challenges he saw was bringing a consensus from councillors on difficult decisions. Jacobs referenced the recent passing of the business hours bylaw, which was a close vote. “With close votes, there is an underlying unhappiness,” he said. They are often not clear-cut cases either.
“Even if you have a 4 to 3 vote, quite often everyone is right,” Jacobs added.
The biggest advice for soon-to-be councillors: “Do your homework.”
He feels a few phone calls and some research goes a long way to finding out answers to important questions. One of the biggest drawbacks he saw with former councils was when someone was too busy to attend meetings, this slowed down planning.
“Quite often we did not have as many meetings as we should have… It’s really good that councillors have the time,” Jacobs advised.
Some of the best times as a councillor were when he was able to help someone with their needs. He suggests anyone who has an issue contact Town Hall and go through the process; if their issues are not handled in a satisfactory way then seek a councillor’s feedback.
What will he miss most: Council meetings and gathering information for upcoming council requests. His hope is for Ponoka to continue on a positive path, whatever that may be.
“Ninety-five per cent of the people are really good…But you do have a small per cent of the population that is very cynical,” explained Jacobs.
Jacobs recommends future councillors take the proper time to consider issues and says most people want a positive outcome. “Quite often the right decision is not going to be the popular decision.”
He may run for council again but for now Jacobs intends to take a three-month vacation with his wife and enjoy some family time.