(Photo posted to Facebook by Ryan Somers)
It has been one year today (November 14th, 2017) since Ryan Somers won a seat on Miramichi city council.
Before municipal politics, Somers got his art degree from St. Thomas University and then went to Presque Isle, Maine to get his education degree. He is most well known as a school teacher across the local school district. He also spent several years volunteering in the community with various local sports teams.
There were eight people running for the one council seat this time last year, some with experience in politics, and others with none. Somers won with a total of 1,800 votes. His closest rivals were John Foran, at 1,440 and Michael (Tanker) Malley at 1,290. Since then Somers has been extremely active within the community of Miramichi, N.B.
During this time last year, Somers decided to run and give it his best shot. Although he did have the thought of running in earlier municipal elections he decided after the passing of the former mayor that he would take his chances during the by-election in 2016.
“The longer the campaign went on and the closer we got to the election day, my determination amped up a bit. The meet the candidates night was a big night for me, it was my first I got to actually speak to the public with that type of platform. I left there that night determined that I wanted to fill that seat.”
(Photo posted to Facebook by Adam Lordon)
Since then Somers has been extremely active within the community of Miramichi, N.B and his life has changed. He spoke on the fact that in the end, you have to keep up the balance between work, council, and personal life. His day job was working at Miramichi Kia, but this year he moved on to working in real estate, while still maintaining his seat on city council.
“The meetings you know they can be a bit longer, we can go for three hours at a time. But it’s going to be fun this year, it was a learning experience to go through it from beginning to the end”, he said.
Out of all the progression in Miramichi within the last year, Somers believes that the thing he most proud of is the sense of unity among city council. He referenced the Christmas parade, and Canada parade they all part party in and the Irish Festival. “Those are things that you never really saw earlier councils doing,
Somers said, “those are things that you never really saw earlier councils doing, they are important because the entire idea of representing your city is trying to make sure you are getting things accomplished. We should be trying to move the city forward together!”
(Photos posted to Facebook by Adam Lordon)
Although they don’t always agree on all topics the importance of how unity they are as a group when it comes down to moving the city forward is the most important aspect Somers is proud to say he is apart of.
When it comes challenges, Somers says that because he is still relatively new to the role he still is learning every day. The job can be challenging but he enjoys it! When it comes to asking for help from the mayor, council, or city staff Somers says that he can ask any of them and they are always there to help!
Transparency within the city…
Regardless of any form of government, the word transparency is always used. When asked if he believes the mayor and council are transparent on all decision made. Although Somers realizes that many people would like to know more when it comes to meetings that take place behind closed doors, he also understands that its policy and that’s how it works.
As far as keeping the public informed on what is taking place Somers said he believes they are doing a great job on that and said, “I’d give us a passing grade, that’s for sure.” He also spoke to the fact that in his opinion they are doing better than earlier years.
Taking pride in being a Miramichier…
The most rewarding part of being on city council Somer says is that he takes pride in being a Miramichier! “I’m incredibly proud of my city, that’s why I wanted to run in the first place.”
As far as how the first year as a city council has played out, he has spoken to members of the public and all different ages and he says that the majority of people are happy with what has taken place within the last year.
However, Somers said he understands there are areas that are not perfect, he believes that they are still heading in the right direction when it comes to progressing Miramichi and he looks forward to continuing that with mayor and council.
Firefighters staffing concerns…
I asked Somers his stance when it comes to the staffing concerns that the Miramichi Firefighters Association has, and although he couldn’t indulge into too much, Somers said “It’s well-known among the community that it is a concern and we have worked on that for some time, even long before I was sitting on council.”
Although he understands that they feel they need more staffing for the department Somers said, “It think sometimes people forget that councillors are members of the city as well and we want whats best for everybody. It would be easy to say we need to give them x amount of more staff, but tax dollars are involved in this situation so it’s a very tough situation.”
When the Pomax report came out, everyone endorsed the report and Somers mentioned that he strongly believes that it is at the top of the mayor’s list, and they are striving to do better while remaining responsible with it.
What about other forms of politics…
Even though Somers has only been on city council for one year, I had to ask if he had any thoughts on maybe running in provincial or federal politics after his term on council is over.
“I’d be lying if I said that I did. I would leave that window open, if I was talking to you five years ago I wouldn’t believe I’d be a city councilor, but I guess like anything in life thing’s can change, and perhaps I could go down that road”, Somers said.
At the end of the day aside from being a Miramichi city councilor Somers says the number one thing on his agenda is being a father, and husband.