The 2010 civic election is still more than four months away but residents in the City and in Red Deer County have already been put on notice that big changes are in the wind.
In the County, Mayor Earl Kinsella has announced his retirement. Former Councillor Stan Bell, a victim of boundary changes in the 2007 campaign, will run for the mayor's chair.
With no credible opponent having yet declared or even rumoured Bell has to be considered the front runner, and a good one at that.
In the City, Morris Flewwelling has announced he will seek a third and likely his last term as mayor.
And then things get real interesting.
Late last month veteran Councillor Larry Pimm announced he will not run in October.
First elected to council in 1980, Pimm said, "It's time."
We agree. Pimm has served the City with dignity and honour. He has been a respected mover and shaker here for more than three decades.
But Pimm also acknowledges that much has changed in the City during that time. And perhaps more so in the past five years with unprecedented growth, followed by the recession and now recovery, slow as it is for many.
Pimm's retirement should be a clear signal to all Red Deerians that most of the old guard and its way of leadership and direction will be leaving City Hall.
There is no better time now, and throughout the summer and into early fall, for locals to seriously consider who is best to lead the City, and chart and implement a new bold vision.
There are already two excellent emerging leaders on council who almost certainly will be running again in October – Cindy Jefferies and Tara Veer. After these two, however, the talent level begins to diminish, although Buck Buchanan, elected to council for the first time in 2007, has showed significant improvement over the past year.
So far, there have only been two credible announcements of intentions to run for City council – Jim Watters, Red Deer Public School Trustee, and local businessman Paul Harris. The latter has certainly made his mark as a successful downtown business owner but his self-described background as "one of Central Alberta's most influential and innovative personalities" might be seen by some or even many as a stretch. But there is no denying Harris' entry into the race makes things interesting.
However, the stage could very well change dramatically over the next few months, with more drop outs on council and new faces seeking a term on City council.
The final look of council could appear almost entirely different in the fall, and while Flewwelling is still the best choice to lead the City as mayor, it would not be the worst thing in the world if his only familiar partners are Veer, Jefferies and Buchanan.
In fact it would mark an exciting new beginning.