A farewell event was held at Winkler City hall Tuesday afternoon for outgoing Winkler Mayor, Martin Harder.
For many of the community's younger generation, Harder is the only mayor they likely remember. Harder served the city as mayor for 16 years and led his last council meeting last night.
Harder said leaving office is a bittersweet time for him. "On one hand, you realize all the support that you have. And all the projects that have been accomplished and how the city is growing, how it has developed. Just to see that come together, and to have so many friends and so many people come here today to give their well wishes and express their appreciation. The gratitude is tremendous,” said Harder.
Looking back on the many accomplishments that took place in Winkler over his 4 terms as mayor, Harder noted the Bethel Heritage Park and the Meridian Exhibition Centre were two projects he's particularly proud of.
”...Because most cities struggle with identity for the core. And if I look at Winkler, and I look at this, in my opinion, is the core of the city. And if that core isn't kept alive, the city will fail. So, from my perspective, I think that's the foundation of this community...Doesn't matter whether it grows to be 25,000 or 35,000...as the spread of Winkler goes to the north and south, east and west, that makes even more sense to keep that as a core area of the city.”
“I've been here with the city almost the full term of council,” noted Winkler City Manager Jody Penner. I started a little while after the election...yesterday (Monday) as he was cleaning out his office, he gave me one of these books, ‘Across the Prairies.’ He's got a chapter in it, and I thought there were some kind of fitting things in there that I thought I’d share, just as a way of introducing Martin before some of you knew him.
He started his career in 1974 as a grain elevator manager and then, you know, went through some difficult times in the industry. And here's one of the things that he said when it was going through a time where it was difficult and you weren't always sure who you could just.
And he said, ‘this has become my model and my conviction. If my word isn't of no value, neither is my signature. In those days 99.9% of business transactions in the country were made on telephone calls and honor.’
“Here at the City of Winkler, and I can tell you from starting here, that trust in a relationship is one of the most important things that I've seen here, and trust in the relationship is what we try to do, and Martin was doing it way back in the day, and it's really what got him into business," added Penner. "And so I think that's something that I've come to appreciate about you, Martin. So, thank you for modeling that.”
During his 16 years as mayor, Harder says not only has his commitment been solidified, his faith has gotten deeper as well. “I fully understand and realize that the whole comment about religion and politics don't mix, and I would agree 100% that they don't. But who you are as a believer makes a difference in who you will be as a politician, and that's where I base my integrity and base my honesty and the fact that what I say is worth the same as my signature.”