Linda Clark is the incumbent candidate for head of council in the Prairie View Municipality and as of this writing, the only candidate for reeve.
Clark took on the role four years ago, knowing the amalgamation of Miniota and Birtle RMs, (an arranged marriage by the province) could be rocky, but it was a challenge she welcomed.
“One of my main goals in running for reeve the first time was, I felt that I could bring a sense of calm to the amalgamation. Along with the councillors, we’ve worked toward that. We still have a little way to go.”
“It has been stressful at times for both council and staff,” she says, adding, “We’re coming through to the end of our first term and I certainly feel … we’re doing well.”
Clark, at 68 is at a point in her life when she has the time to devote to the many meetings and community events that a reeve has the duty and opportunity to attend.
For a couple of years Clark sat as a councillor with Ollive McKeen who was Reeve of the RM of Miniota. In what has been male-dominated municipal politics, Clark has been the only woman on council this term.
“I would like to see more women in politics. They bring a different view,” she says, mulling over past council conversations around projects, “be it roads or lagoon, whatever the issue of the day is.”
From the province-wide Association of Manitoba Municipalities annual meetings Clark has seen more and more women, as well as younger people, taking on local leadership roles.
Clark is family oriented, with grandchildren of her own. But she points out that people at different stages of life have differing priorities and thinks it is important for all ages and genders to be represented.
She says the time commitment can rule out many good candidates.
“It’s not just two regular meetings a month, but it’s all the other committees, and the functions you attend… so it’s really hard to hold down a job, tend to your family and then give that commitment.”
Under her skin
Politics got under Clark’s skin when she was just a child, when her name was Linda Reed, of Isabella.
“My interest began as a child. My dad (Frank Reed) was a councillor in the ‘60s for the RM of Miniota. And in those days, councillors were out touring roads and doing things to help. I sometimes got to tag along with Dad.
“I remember hearing him on the phone, over concerns, and over good things. I was just always very proud of my dad.”
Years later, Clark supported her own husband, Bill Clark who was a councillor for eight years and after raising four children he returned as reeve for eight years, until his passing.
Clark says she’s not surprised when, out and about, she is met with a question, comment or a real problem.
“No one’s safe, when you hit the grocery store, or the street. I believe that’s part of our job. We need to listen with an open ear and bring their concerns to the table.”
Clark now lives in Miniota. But, raised as a farm girl in the heart of the two communities of Birtle and Miniota, she says, “Birtle was the town where my family went on a Saturday night.”
The farm family made parts runs to Birtle and to Miniota, and Clark went to high school in Birtle. She continues to work in the churches of Birtle and Miniota.
“I know a lot of people and I feel that has been positive for me on council for the last four years.”
While she welcomes some competition for the reeve’s position, Clark says she loves municipal politics and is ready to continue.
“We’re in the middle of some very big and exciting projects. I’d like to see those through. And there’s some other things I would like to bring to the table and get started with.”
As of this writing, several current Prairie View councillors have taken out nomination forms. People have until Sept.18 to return nomination forms.