During a rather quiet campaign leading up to polling day on Nov. 19, candidates for city council published their platforms.
A summary of the pertinent parts of nine campaign statements provides an overview of what we might expect if those who were successful can follow through.
Mayor Brian Taylor championed the accomplishments of the past council (2008 to 2011). The lift station in City Park, the trail system from Ruckle to the north, the BETHS shelter, the fibre optic network and the focus on upgrading the aging infrastructure were on his list of accomplishments.
Taylor said, “We plan to maximize the life of our roads, sewer, water, storm and electrical systems and to replace some parts of our sewer, water and roads that have reached the end of their lives.”
He also said that there would be no rush to implement the plan without the support of other levels of government.
Taylor acknowledged the growing population of seniors in the city and said there is an opportunity to prosper from meeting new service and product demands from that group.
Cher Wyers told us that she had a commitment to an upgrade of the infrastructure “in a timely, planned and fiscally responsible process.”
Wyers also recognized the importance of long-term planning for a stabilization of taxes, care of the city’s water supply and a Wildlife Management Plan for the Gilpin Grasslands area.
Bob Kendel mentioned “meaningful change in our community” focusing on improved health care for seniors and job opportunities for young people.
Meaningful change would include a “revitalization of the agricultural community” by encouraging farmers to grow haskap berries and the community to develop processing industries, the creation of a “tourist travel plaza anchored by a large scale co-op farmers’ market” and developing “an open for business mentality.”
Neil Krog saw his role on council “as that of a stabilizer, using my experience to help keep council grounded and on track. Not off re-inventing the wheel or wasting time in non-productive activities.”
Krog said the community was at a crossroads but did not tell us what the signposts said. He wants to attract more small business and work more closely with Area C and D.
Krog’s vision of the community is one with a healthy and sustainable economy that supports the people that live in it. To achieve his vision he would require the combined strengths and talents of business people, seniors, artists and young people.
The major plank in Pat O’Doherty’s platform is the improvement of the infrastructure. He too expressed a desire to work with seniors and young families on issues including affordable housing and accessible health care. O’Doherty said he would work at keeping taxes low for residents and local business owners.
Gary Smith claimed to be a very good listener and told us that he would “actively engage in work that the residents have determined needs to be done.” The electorate will have to wait to find out what that work is.
Michael Wirischagin proposed changes to what he believed was changeable: providing well-paying jobs for young people so they will remain in the community, improving care for seniors to enable them to stay in the region, rebuilding the infrastructure and working to build an age-friendly community.
If the mayor and each of the councillors can live up to their promises, the community will be the better for it but residents must remember that each of them was looking for votes when they made them.
– Roy Ronaghan is a columnist for the Grand Forks Gazette