MD OF BIGHORN – There will be an empty seat on the Municipal District of Bighorn council for the next little while after the departure of Ward 3 Councillor Paul Clark.
Clark, who was first elected to council eight years ago, is leaving to spend more time with his wife.
“My wife isn’t in perfect health, and I was away from her more and more,” Clark said. “It is just her and myself. We live rurally on a ranch in an isolated area and there is not a lot she can do. Her health has suffered by that.”
As his council duties took up more and more of his time, Clark found he was spending too much time away from home.
“I am at these meetings, and I think about her sitting all alone by herself and I don’t think that is good for her for me to be away so much,” Clark said.
His hope is that by spending more time with his wife, and getting out to do more things together, they will see an improvement in her health.
“I think if we did more exciting things and made some trips, I think her health would start to come back,” Clark said. “We want to make sure we do all that we want in the time we have remaining.”
First elected through acclamation, Clark made the decision to serve on council to give representation to his ward.
“I live in Ward 3, and it is almost all rural. It didn’t appear that anyone else was going to run and I had recently shut down my company, so I had time on my hands.”
Over his time on council, he has seen things get busier, especially as the world emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a lot of activity now. We went through COVID. We still got what was needed to be done through COVID,” Clark said. “I commend the staff for doing that. It is getting busier; the meetings are longer and there are more of them. I think that is the post-COVID scenario.”
Clark also feels that he is leaving the MD during a time when it is in good shape and well run by administration and council.
“I think the municipality is very well run. We are healthy, not wealthy as people say,” Clark said. “We have had four years in a row where the auditors came in and we had a clean audit. I am very pleased with that. It is a well-run operation.”
The decision to retire wasn’t one he has been thinking about for a long time. With his wife’s health diminishing, Clark quickly decided the time was right to retire.
“I am looking forward to it,” he said. “I have worked since I was 19 and I am 77 now. I would like to just have a pause for a while.”
Reeve Lisa Rosvold, who thanked Clark for his service through a Facebook post, understands his reason for leaving.
“We were aware that this was coming but it doesn’t make it any easier. We are sorry to see Coun. Clark go,” Rosvold said. “He is leaving the table for a good reason, to put his family first. We are going to be sad to see him gone.”
Nomination day for the council position will be June 13, with the by-election date set for July 11.
As for the person who replaces him, Clark has a simple bit of advice.
“Be prepared to be busy. It is not just council meetings,” he said.
Despite all the work and time away from home though, his time on council will be looked on fondly.
“It has been a very rewarding experience.”