Nancy Penner believes she has the experience and the skills required to be the next Mayor for the City of Morden.
On Monday, Penner resigned as councillor with the intention of running in the Head of Council by-election set for December 20th following the resignation of former mayor, Brandon Burley.
She has just completed her first year as a second-term councillor for the community.
"Low and behold, one year into the four-year mandate, our mayor resigns, and I went, 'wow, here's an opportunity. I'm ready. I know I have the qualifications to stand up and provide leadership to the community," said Penner, who believes she can continue to be part of the team that moves Morden forward. "I have strong leadership skills and I'm dedicated to this community. I think the tipping point was (that) I have unanimous support from Council. That was sort of the launching point that takes me to where I am today."
Additionally, Penner is coming up on three years serving as Central District Director with the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM), the province's municipal lobby group. She feels the networking opportunities this position has afforded her would be an asset if she were elected Mayor.
"They've been a huge learning ground for me in terms of what AMM does for all 137 municipalities, but it has also been an invaluable introduction into government; the leaders who lead our province, leaders of the Opposition. We're going into a new government right now, but just who the players are, and I think that's important as a mayor to have insight on the inner workings of government," explained Penner. "Morden is going to need help down the road as we increase our need for infrastructure, our need for funding. To know the players, to have met those players and to have networked with other municipalities through my association with AMM."
Looking to the future, Penner noted, the City also has a strong foundation to build on.
"Our wastewater treatment plant is underway. We'll see construction next year. We have new recreation development happening north on 1st Street, our industrial park is being expanded, we've got new daycare spaces coming in. We've got support to our new elementary school in terms of land that we've provided them to expand or include a state-of-the-art track. We're supporting the Boundary Trails Health Center Foundation, giving regional support to the new hospital build."
If elected Mayor, Penner says she wants to be strong enough to embrace new possibilities while also considering older ideas.
"Water conservation will be sort of a top priority for me," she noted. "We're maxed out at our water licensing, so if we don't source more water, we're going to have issues growing down the road. We've got our wastewater sort of identified going forward, but potable water will be on the table."
Economic development opportunities are also on Penner's radar.
"We need to attract new business. We want to support the companies that are here, we want to make sure they can grow," she emphasized, noting a skilled labor strategy could be possibility going forward. "Can we have workforce training and post-secondary education to tie in with the labor market?"
"I mean, the list goes on but there's so much we can do and so little time to do it in," added Penner. "We're doing so much already, and I think the potential is huge to just keep going. So, I'm excited. The City is in a really good space right now, if we can keep attracting business, if we can watch for grant opportunities so some of those big-ticket items can get done."
Additionally, Penner stated there is a great council in place, along with strong management teams within the organization, and she wants to build on the great work they are doing.
If elected to the role, Penner believes she would be the first female Mayor for the City of Morden, but she is taking it all in stride.
"I think Kamala Harris said it when she was elected Vice President of the United States, 'I may be the first, but I sure hope I'm not the last,' she said, however Penner says she will never use that as a campaign platform. "I will campaign on my strengths and my abilities; I just happen to be a woman. I hope people vote for me and support me because of my strengths and my abilities. I do encourage women to run for Council. I would like to see more diversity within our Council, not just women, but diversity. We have a very diverse community, and there's many sectors in our community that aren't represented on Council. We're all valued members of our community, so to be represented on Council would be welcomed."
~With files from Robyn Wiebe ~
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