It's not often a politician makes a name for himself by keeping quiet but that's what is happening on city council with rookie member Wes Brodhead.
While some councillors turn heads with what or how much they say, Brodhead is getting noticed for saying little.
"I think that reflects my personality a little bit," Brodhead said of his high comfort level with his own silence.
Brodhead can sometimes go a whole meeting without saying anything, but don't confuse him for a councillor who's coasting. He spends hours reading in preparation for meetings and isn't shy about speaking up when he feels like it. But more often, he finds the issues are straightforward and the urge to open his mouth isn't there.
"I'm not gratified just by air time," he said. "I don't feel that I need to have a lot of air time to bring value to the discussion."
"For me to speak just to support [a simple motion] doesn't bring value," he added. "If I'm quiet it's simply because I understand where we're going and don't have any questions."
His style hasn't gone unnoticed. Fellow rookie Coun. Cathy Heron appreciates Brodhead's succinct approach.
"When he does say something, everybody stops what they're doing and listens because it generally makes a lot of sense," Heron said.
An example of Brodhead at his most outspoken came Nov. 22 when he shook his head in disbelief at a park and ride proposal that would have forced transit users to cross the busy St. Albert Trail during rush hour.
"That … is, to me, a disaster," he said.
Mayor Nolan Crouse described Brodhead as understanding and thoughtful, traits that remind the mayor of former councillor Lorie Garritty.
"I would call him very astute, calm under pressure," Crouse said of Brodhead, adding that his quietness isn't a bad trait.
"Very often, people like him … when they do speak, it's a very respected voice," Crouse said.
Like other newcomers to council, Brodhead said he's adjusting to the workload, which he notes amounts to more than the part-time job that it's officially classed. Unlike his fellow rookies, he's holding down a full-time job while juggling meetings, extensive reading and requests to attend events that could see him out of the house every night of the week.
"I never really understood the comments of people retiring from politics to spend time with their wife and family, but I do now," he said.
Last fall's election was Brodhead's second attempt at winning a council seat. During the campaign he identified his main strength as his insider's understanding of city services, drawn from a 32-year municipal career that currently sees him serving as Edmonton Transit's director of bus operations.
Now that he's on council, he said he has to be careful not to think too much like an administrator.
"Because of my job, I'm used to hearing administrative presentation things," Brodhead said. "The one thing I have to guard against is being an apologist for administration. They can do that on their own quite well.
"The other thing that I have to bring to the table is a critical evaluation skill."