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Don Kochan County's first 'mayor'

Rocky View County (RVC) council has its first mayor and deputy mayor, after the incoming council appointed the two positions at its organizational meeting on Oct. 25.
Don Kochan submitted photo
Former CAO of the Town of Canmore and newly elected Div. 2 councillor, Don Kochan, has been chosen mayor of Rocky View council.

Rocky View County (RVC) council has its first mayor and deputy mayor, after the incoming council appointed the two positions at its organizational meeting on Oct. 25.

In a vote among council members selected new Division 2 councillor Don Kochan to the mayor’s chair, while second-term councillor Crystal Kissel will claim the deputy mayor’s seat. Kochan won against incumbent councillor candidate Kim McKylor in the Oct. 18 municipal election. 

Kochan said he feels good about the opportunity to be the mayor, a role that will include chairing meetings, acting as council’s official spokesperson, and being the County’s chief representative on certain boards and commissions, including the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board.

“I am appreciating the confidence the other councillors have provided, to be able to lead them through the next little bit of the term,” he said. “I'm looking forward to it."

Previously known as the reeve and deputy reeve, the positions of RVC's chief elected officials were previously held by Daniel Henn and Kim McKylor, two former council members who were not re-elected in the Oct. 18 vote.

When the previous council approved a bylaw to redraw the County’s electoral boundaries and reduce the size of council by two divisional representatives in 2020, they also voted to change the title of the group’s chief elected officials, from reeve and deputy reeve to mayor and deputy mayor.

Though one of two newcomers on council, Kochan said his previous career in municipal governance will serve him well in the mayoral capacity. He worked for the Town of Canmore for 15 years, ending his time there by spending five years as the municipality’s chief administrative officer.

“I have dealt with councillors a lot through that role, and certainly have dealt a lot with team building," he said. “So, from a go-forward point for RVC, we do have a fair amount of work in front of us we need to address.

“With my experience with the [Municipal Government Act] and dealing with council, I think it will fit in nicely as far as me being able to provide that experience to benefit the County.”

The first priority for RVC’s new council, according to Kochan, will be getting a permanent CAO in place, as Kent Robinson has been serving as the County’s acting chief administrative officer since previous CAO Al Hoggan left earlier this year.

“We do have a vacancy there,” Kochan said. “We are hoping to put someone in place sooner or later so we can start being more productive as a county.”

Other than that, Kochan said he looks forward to reviewing RVC’s finances, state of administration and service levels with his council colleagues in the coming months. He noted the number-one thing he heard from residents on the campaign trail is that they did not feel they were being listened to, relative to the issues that arose during the previous term.

“I think this council is a bit more structured as far as meeting the residents’ needs,” he said, adding he expects the budget to be a time-consuming process for the new council. "But I think we’ll get a good feel as far as where we are at and take it from there to see what other items need to be addressed in the short term.” 

Division 3 councillor Crystal Kissel was voted in as deputy mayor. Kissel said she was happy to take the vote of confidence after her previous term when she and two other councillors were sanctioned after they were accused of breaching council’s Code of Conduct in 2019. Those sanctions were overturned in court in 2020.

"I was pleased my colleagues would support me," she said. "It's a position I feel I can learn more about, what that type of position offers a person and responsibilities. I also think this gives us an opportunity to do things in a little different way."

This term will not be as rocky, Kissel said.

"We have changed, we heard very clearly from residents that they were looking for something different and I hope we can live up to that," she said.

—With files from Jordan Stricker

Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, editor
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