REPOSTED FROM PG CITIZEN JUNE 28, 2018
There will be at least two new faces on Prince George city council after Oct. 20, with Tuesday’s announcement that Albert Koehler will not be running a third term.
Rookie councillor Jillian Merrick let it be known earlier this month that she would not be running again.
To both Koehler and Merrick, thank you for your work on behalf of the residents of Prince George. The city is a better place because of your commitment to public service and you earned every dollar of your city councillor income.
Koehler’s letter to mayor and council announcing his decision was a textbook in personal and political class.
Instead of talking about the many hardships of public life, he stressed only the positives, starting with how honoured” and blessed he felt to have been chosen by local voters to make important decisions on their behalf.
He thanked his council colleagues for the respect he was given. He thanked Mayor Lyn Hall for his leadership. He wished Merrick “all the best for the future” and he wished the remainder of his council colleagues – all seeking re-election Oct. 20 – “much success.”
His reasons to not run again were simple and straightforward. Five young grandchildren. A bucket list that isn’t getting any shorter, the impending retirement of his wife and some health concerns.
Even with those considerations, he said the decision still wasn’t easy. He loved the work because it was more than just a job, he loved the people, he loved making a difference.
Koehler did things his own way during his seven years on city council. He paid for his election campaigns exclusively out of his own pocket. He spoke firmly but carefully at the council table. He let his warmth and sense of humour shine. And his pocket of Werther’s candies (a reflection of his German background) seemed bottomless.
How Koehler saw his role on city council was reflected in his remarks made during Monday night’s debate on increasing the pay for the mayor and councillors elected this October.
“The question is ‘why are we here?’ For the mayor it is a full-time job, no doubt,” he said. “(But) when it comes to us councillors, I have a different opinion.”
Coun. Terri McConnachie, hardly an obvious political ally of Koehler’s, echoed the sentiment.
“This is not my full-time job, it’s my privilege,” McConnachie said. “A large portion of what we do is public service.”
Not everyone feels the same, both on council and in the public. Some feel paying a part-time wage for putting in the full-time hours councillors are expected to contribute is a barrier to broader representation. Coun. Murry Krause made that argument, supported by Merrick.
But Koehler framed it best with his question – why are we here? If someone wants a seat at the city council table strictly to be gainfully employed and cash a cheque every two weeks, they need to find a different job. Political service should be taken up out of a sense of duty, of giving back to the community.
That’s why Koehler was there and that’s the desire that motivates most people who let their name stand for public office. And when they do get elected, they feel – to use Koehler’s words – honoured and blessed by the trust placed in them by fellow residents to do essential work.
That’s not a job, that’s a calling.
And that’s not romanticizing political responsibilities, that’s properly placing the emphasis on constituents over putting in time and getting paid.
Particularly in light of the federal government’s move to claw back tax-free allowances, the current mayor and council deserve the raises, the first in four years, that will go into the effect for the next city council,
After all, if they wanted to really get paid, they’d apply to work in the bureaucracy where the real bucks are, not in the public eye.
Albert Koehler will not be seeking a third term on council.
“I have come to the conclusion/decision not to let my name stand for re-election in October,” he said in a letter to mayor and council, and released to the media Tuesday.
Koehler said there were a couple of determining factors in his decision, including his age, his health, spending more time with family, and a desire to knock items off his ‘bucket list.’
“I am not the youngest anymore and have a family now with five grandchildren, aged between two and eight years,” he wrote. “Further, my bucket list does not seem to get shorter when it comes to travel, building a cottage and more time for various projects and activities. My wife is planning to retire and we would like to have more time for doing things together. Well, finally and probably most important, I got quite a health scare some months ago. Something that requires close monitoring with the next ‘inspection’ in coming December/January.”
Koehler was first elected in 2011 and crusaded against perennial tax hikes imposed by city council. He funded his own campaigns in both 2011 and 2014, choosing not to fundraise as most other candidates do.
He said the decision not to run was a difficult one as he very much enjoys the position.
“I feel very honoured to have been elected twice by a good number of our residents,” he wrote. “I feel blessed to have been part of important decisions that we made over the years leading to huge betterments in our city. Many results of these decisions will, as you know, show up later and will have a tremendous impact on a positive change of Prince George.
With seven years on council and eight years as the Honourary Consul of Germany for all of northern B.C. he has served 15 years in public service while chairing an industrial operation until just a few years ago.
“I thank all of you for respecting me and my opinion,” he wrote in his letter to council. “All of you are extremely qualified for continuing with the work on council and I wish you much success at the coming election, and Jillian (Merrick) all the best for the future, wherever it leads you. Further, without the superb leadership of our mayor we would, in my opinion, not have been as successful as we have been and the work at council would not have been as enjoyable as it was (still is). Thanks Lyn.”
He also gave a nod to the administrative staff and thanked them for all the assistance.
Koehler’s decision to not seek re-election means there will be at least two new faces on city council after the October 20 election. Jillian Merrick announced last week that she will not be seeking re-election. Kyle Sampson has announced that will be running for city council.
You can now add Albert Koehler’s name to the list of city councillors not running for re-election in Prince George.
He joins Jillian Merrick on the list on who’s vacating their spot on the council as we inch closer to the October 20th Civic Election.
The 71-year old says he wants to take a step back following a personal situation earlier this year.
“A while ago I really wanted to run again but then I had to re-evaluate everything because of my age and a health scare, which caused me to think about everything again.”
“It was a difficult decision but everything in life has an end and that has always been me, I’ve been there for two-terms, have done many other things and we’ll see where my health is going and hopefully it’s OK but I don’t know that yet.”
Koehler has five grandchildren and would like to make room for others.
The local politician has been active on several fronts over the past eight years but refuses to look at his accomplishments in an “I” or “Me” sense and instead implemented a more team-first approach with his fellow council members using terms such as “We”, “Us” and “Ours”.
“I have raised awareness or taxes and tax increases and I have led the campaign to get the fluoride out of the city’s water but council has done this and I just started that. I have been active on the education side especially the engineering program at UNBC for the last 20 years.”
“However, it was council and the city who has supported this, so it was not I, it was again we and who knows, without the city or without council it might not have been there.”
Coun. Albert Koehler announced he won’t be seeking reelection in October in an email to local media on Tuesday.
Koehler is in his seventh year on city council.
“My decision has been difficult because I very much enjoy the work on council and feel very honored to have been elected twice by a good number of our residents,” he wrote in the email.
“I feel blessed to have been part of important decisions that we made over the years leading to huge betterments in our city.”
Koehler thanked the public and his council colleagues for their support and cooperation.
He said he plans to spend more time with his family and his wife, who plans on retiring soon.
“Further, my bucket list does not seem to get shorter when it comes to travel, building a cottage and more time for various projects and activities.”
By Charelle Evelyn / Prince George Citizen
During the municipal election campaign, The Citizen sent out four questions for each of the candidates for mayor and city council to answer about their stand on various civic issues.
Earlier this month, city hall reporter Charelle Evelyn sent out a different sort of questionnaire to the new mayor and council, hoping to learn more about their personal interests and background buy levitra vardenafil. All but Coun. Susan Scott took part.
To find out which city councillor’s favourite album is AC/DC’s Back In Black and which councillor would have KFC as his last meal before his death sentence, keep reading.
Classical music lover Albert Koehler is into his second term on city council and has come a long way from the tricycle-riding tot wheeling around the family farm.
1. Book currently on your night stand (or open on your e-reader)?
A book by Tom Clancy: Command Authority (a great book if someone wants to know what Putin has or had in mind).
2. Three things you’d take with you if you were marooned on an island?
A bible, food for a week or so and a satellite phone.
3. What is the go-to song to lift your spirits?
My spirits are always lifted. Well, there is a nice German song which translated means: The sun is always shining, above the clouds.
4. Favourite movie/TV show?
I do not watch TV shows.
5. What is your earliest memory?
When I was three years old and got a tricycle to play and ride on our farm.
6. Least favourite word?
7. Ideal vacation spot?
Austria, northern Italy
8. Favourite band/musician and/or favourite album?
CD of Johann Strauss: Vienna Walzes
9. If you were on death row, what would you choose for your last meal?
Scrambled eggs with fresh potatoes
10. What quote would you want printed with your obituary?
“Thank you for this life.”
11. What’s your favourite thing to do to unwind?
Walking through nature and the woods.
12. What’s your favourite thing to do in Prince George?
Meeting with friends and people.
13. What would friends say is your most annoying habit?
I do not know that.
14. If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be?
My parents and my wife.
15. What was your first car?
A Simca 1000, which was a French car in Germany, not very special but a nice small car.
16. Which team do you root for during the FIFA World Cup?
17. Best/worst subject in school?
Best: Forestry and Nature. Worst: English literary (my English was the pits)
18. Who was your biggest influence as a child?
19. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
The gift of health.
20. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
1976 – hunting in the Iranian mountains and driving with a Volkswagen van in dry river beds (with two good friends).
– See more at: http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/news/local-news/albert-koehler-20-questions-1.1692576#sthash.FZY6E5oC.dpuf
Thanks to all those that voted and for your support throughout this campaign. I am honoured to serve this community for another 4 years.
Prince George is filled with incredible citizens willing to serve. Thank you to all the candidates that put their name in to run. It takes courage to put your name forward and I hope to see your continued service in our community.
Here’s a picture from last night with a few of my recently elected council members and our new Mayor Lyn Hall.
I enjoyed serving soup yesterday to hundreds visiting the Fall Fair at the Civic Centre. Later in the afternoon I began assembling election signs. Great that I had help from my son and grandson.
It is official! I am running for a second term in the Prince George Civic Election in October. I have my nomination binder in hand and will be submitting the documents with my fellow candidates on Sept 30, 2014. Come by the Mini Maker Faire tomorrow to say hi!
Over the last few months my family and I have put everything into running for council. Even up to the last few hours, between midnight and 5am, my beautiful wife Jutta and I were quietly moving my campaign signs closer to the polling stations. I have always trusted that when you work hard, focus on both the bigger picture and the details, the rest will unfold the way it is meant to.
Last night it paid off. Thank you Prince George for your overwhelming vote of confidence in me. It was exciting to watch not just myself get voted in, but the council members that I will be working with over the next 3 years navigate to these guys.
This is definitely a time for new beginnings in Prince George and I believe that your vote in Shari Green’s leadership, myself and my fellow councilors has made a difference already.
Thank you for all the comments on Twitter, Facebook, in my email inbox and kind words of congratulations I have already heard. I look forward to continuing to serve you.
Thank you again.