OLDS — Mary Anne Overwater, who served two terms on Olds town council, is contemplating what she’ll do next, after failing to win a third term during the Oct. 18 municipal election.
Overwater received 1,089 votes, according to official results, released on Oct. 22. She had served two terms on town council.
During an interview, Overwater said she suspects she lost because she's “outspoken.”
She also defended controversial council moves like the decision to turn Olds Fibre Ltd., which owned O-NET, the community-run internet, TV and phone service, into a municipally-controlled corporation.
Overwater said that’s a decision that had to be made, given the $18 million worth of debt accrued by the Town in support of that business.
She suggested new town councillors who were critical of that move may change their minds when they see the documents that led the past council to make that decision.
“I just hope that the new people on there do all their homework and read all the mounds of paperwork that we’ve had to go through to make some of the decisions that we made and they’ll find out why we made those decisions,” Overwater said.
“I think maybe some of their statements, they may have to retract them, so that’s my comment on that.”
“I wish everybody the best who was elected and re-elected,” she said.
Overwater was asked if she has any regrets, given the outcome of the campaign.
“Oh, no,” she said. “I mean, I’ve always been a very strong voice, and for me to say I have regrets? None whatsoever. That’s not who I am. I’m a person who will state what my opinion is and ask some difficult questions.
“You know, a lot of times people don’t like the answer. When they ask a question and I give them an answer, they may not like it, but it’s the answer that we at council had, as a group decided, that this is the path that we were taking.”
Overwater suspects another factor in her failure to be re-elected was her call for clear rules on backyard hockey rinks.
“I don’t know how many times I had to say it – I was not against outdoor rinks. If people would read the paper properly they would understand in the whole article, I think I stated several times I was not against outdoor rinks,” she said.
"There was backlash, letters to the editor that I was against them and I even said in my election speech I’m not.”
Overwater said in her opinion, the 2017-2021 edition of Olds town council made great strides in leveraging grants for the community -- about $20 million worth -- from the provincial government by lobbying more assiduously than previous councils did.
She expressed hope that the new council will carry on with those efforts.
During her time on council, Overwater strongly endorsed creation of the Olds Policing Advisory Committee and the town’s Public Arts Advisory Committee.
She said she may decide to stay on some committees she served on, if given the opportunity.
Overwater also served on the board of the Mountain View Regional Waste Management Commission.
She said during that time, tipping fees were reduced. Annual requisitions to municipalities were cut back for several years as well.
“We have money in the bank,” she said.
"It’s a very efficient, lean operating commission from when I first got on eight years ago, so I feel that’s a success.”