New mayor has fond memories of Humboldt

Michael Behiel has a past in Humboldt, and is looking towards the future.

Article content

By Julia Peterson.

Michael Behiel, Humboldt’s new mayor-elect, has fond memories of his childhood in the city.

“When I was growing up, we never ever thought about anything,” he said. “We ran out that door, we got on our bikes, we drove all over town and played in the golf course bushes.

“There was never a worry about playing on the streets, about safety, about going to the parks or being out after dark.”

Behiel, who returned to Humboldt eight years ago after retiring from the income tax department of the federal government, wants to keep that “small-town atmosphere” alive for a new generation.

“Humboldt … is still a very safe community,” he said. “It’s recognized for being one of the safer and nicer communities in the area, in terms of its size and proximity to other major centres.

“So it’s important to me that it stays that way, that parents can have a safe place to raise kids, where families can go out and play and not have to worry.”

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Even after he moved away for university and then for work, Behiel always envisioned himself returning home to Humboldt and taking an active role in city life.

“I used to tell my family that when the day comes, when I retire, I’m going to move back to Humboldt, hopefully become part of City Council, and start making a difference in bringing the city back to the shining glory it had been when I was a kid.”

So when several friends and neighbors approached him to run for Council in 2016, the decision was “a no-brainer.”

On Council, he has spent the last four years focusing on police and public safety, as well as mental health and addictions issues.

And when outgoing mayor Rob Muench decided against running for reelection – preferring to run for a council seat instead, which he won – Behiel saw an opportunity.

“I would never have run for mayor if Mayor Muench had not decided not to re-run,” Behiel said. “I have too much respect for the work he did as leader of the city and I was quite happy being by his side.

“But when he said he needed to step down … I immediately felt that was my chance to step forward and continue the work he had started.”

And Behiel expects his experiences at the federal level will be an asset when it comes to cutting through red tape and advocating for Humboldt at every level of government.

“When I get into the places where we have any of our federal or provincial representatives, I’m right there with those people, whoever it may be, asking for answers and solutions and wanting to know what they’re going to do to help us get everything in line,” he said.

Under his leadership, Behiel says some of the City’s most urgent priorities will be to replace aging sewer and water lines, deal with floodwater mitigation, keep taxes low and attract more businesses to the area.

“Most importantly, I want to get Humboldt to the point where everybody’s going ‘Wow! I wish I was in Humboldt,’ ” he said.

News Near Nipawin

This Week in Flyers