SANDRA M STANWAY
Village of Rosemary councillor Yoko Fujimoto will receive a Distinguished Service Award from the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) for her 27 years on municipal council.
Fujimoto, 72, was first elected in 1980 defeating her father, who had encouraged her to run, by one vote.
“He was so happy. He was not a political-type person. I just went in it because I thought this was my hometown and I’ll see what I can do,” she said.
She did not serve 27 consecutive years but while she did serve she was a councillor and a mayor, a position she sees as just a title.
“Every municipality has to have a (leader),” she said.
“I have been doing what I love. I enjoy doing it. I want to do what I can for my village; improve things as much as we can and we’ve gone a long way. We’ve done a lot since I started,” she said.
Highlights in the village since 1980 include paving of Centre Street and installation of the boulevards and curb and gutter which started in 1982.
“We worked towards getting paved streets and significantly defining our streets.”
Despite the work that was done Fujimoto returns to the people.
“If I can help a neighbour that’s what I’ll do,” she said.
“Council, we work so well together. We discuss issues. I was always really proud of that we really work well together and we always had an open door policy.”
Fujimoto (nee Tanigami) was born in Lethbridge and at the age of one her family moved to Rosemary.
While her family taught her respect, it was through working at her dad’s store, Harry’s General Store, where she learned to love people but she said it didn’t necessarily get her ready for politics.
“People were just always the main part of our lives; all of the kids that grew up in Rosemary.
“The seniors were always very, very special to us and through our culture we were raised to respect and treat seniors as the best.”
It was the love of people and seniors that moved her into politics and also as a 40-year member of the Newell Foundation board, a highlight of her time on council.
“December 1980 was my first board meeting,” she said of the Foundation.
It was during the early days of her time on the foundation that Newbrook Lodge renovations took place.
“I remember my mother-in-law lived in the Lodge and it was so sad with the tiny rooms,” she said.
“Being on the board we kept trying to make things better for the seniors who could no longer stay at home.”
Looking around her community, Fujimoto said paving the roads and adding curbs, gutters and sidewalks have been an important step.
“I was happy and appreciative of mayor Bill Marshall and CAO Sharon Zacharias for submitting my name,” said Fujimoto.
Marshall said it was an honour to put her name in for the award.
“It’s really hard to say thanks for so many different ways for being on council that many years in Rosemary.
“It’s a special thing. That’s why we submitted it,” he said.
A presentation will be made next week.
Elected officials from Wainwright, Whitecourt, Linden, Innisfail, Provost and Mundare were also acknowledged.