On Wednesday, September 27, candidates for Reeve and councillors for the County of St. Paul gathered in the St. Paul Recreation Centre to provide their platforms for the municipal election.
Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, the forum was moderated by Kevin Bernhardt, who enforced time limits and filtered questions to appropriate candidates.
Recurring themes were building and maintaining quality roads, reducing the recent rash of property crimes, encouraging environmental stewardship, and ensuring fiscal responsibility.
Included here is information compiled from opening speeches, responses to forum questions, flyers, Facebook pages, and personal interviews.
Incumbent Steve Upham is proud to stand on his record, and promises to continue to provide sound fiscal decision making. Regarding issues with roads, he acknowledges that last winter was “brutal,” but pits recently opened with good gravel should aid improvement. He feels the County has a manageable debt, with “plenty of cash in restricted and unrestricted surplus” as well as access to user fees and real estate assets. As a member of Community Ventures, he is strongly involved in fostering entrepreneurship and supporting small business development.
Leo deMoissac, who farms, has been in the farm equipment business, and retired after 23 years as the public works superintendent with the County of St. Paul, has a thorough working knowledge of the whole County. He recognizes that “road damage comes with increased traffic and huge trucks with huge loads” so good foundations are necessary. He has a good relationship with oil companies, having negotiated millions of dollars for maintenance of roads. Besides roads, his concerns relate to increased crime, environmental issues, and improving communication between departments.
Glen Ockerman is a third generation farmer in Ferguson Flats, and has been a councillor for 13 years. He wants to “work toward finding innovative and economical solutions” to construction and maintenance of roads; bring together local, provincial, and federal resources to thwart crime; and lobby the federal government regarding proposed tax legislation which, he says, “will adversely affect small businesses, such as family farms.” He asserts that the County needs to “build for the future, but take care of the people at the present time.” He points to hockey rinks, baseball diamonds, kids’ events, and programs delivered in small communities by FCSS.
Names were drawn to determine a random order in which candidates for the councillor positions spoke at the forum, but in this article candidates are grouped by division.
Incumbent Laurent Amyotte has been returned to council by acclamation.
Ric Webster retired to Vincent Lake after working as a power engineer with Syncrude, Imperial Oil, Alpac, and Nexen. His background includes process safety management and training. He promotes cultural and historical activities, and is “committed to looking for new value adding opportunities.” He wants to work toward a solution to the health care issue. “The heaviest thing that I’ve got,” he says, “is people have to choose between going to hospital in St. Paul or in Bonnyville.”
Dale Hedrick, of Hedrick Auto & Towing in Ashmont, wants road surfaces to be finished with oil, not calcium. He wants to increase the quality of the roads, but reduce the quantity of new roads. To fight crime, Hedrick says more money must be invested in RCMP services rather than in creating new peace officer positions. As a small business owner, he promotes entrepreneurship as a way to keep families in the community.
Barry Sallstrom, from Owlseye, served in the Canadian Forces and later as a traffic safety consultant. His experience has included working cooperatively with municipalities, Metis settlements, and First Nations. He has no personal agenda, but wants to see money spent ethically with accountability to tax payers. His answers to road maintenance problems are good gravel and well trained grader operators.
James (Jimmy) McGonigal owns Whitecloud Mechanical and is a member of the St. Paul Fire Department. Ready to listen and excited to be part of the change, McGonigal has no personal agenda but hopes to work in cooperation with the town and County.
Maxine Fodness has 13 years’ experience representing division 4 on the County board. She values truth, respect, perseverance, determination and courage, and promotes “effective policy and strong governance to bring fairness, opportunity and growth.” She advocates for funding libraries, recreation facilities, teams, and “kids that need the extra hand.”
Cliff Martin has been a County councillor for the past 13 years, and is a member of numerous boards, including FCSS, the airport, and the library boards. He is proud of his role in keeping taxes reasonable, the mill rate fair, and constructing over 100 miles of new roads.
Ray Suvak of Pure Country Backhoe Services is concerned about roads, and water management, especially problems with runoff. He wants people to be aware of what’s being spent and why, so intends to promote communication regarding management of funds.
Myra Boothman grew up in the Elk Point area and recently closed her hair styling business, affording her ample time to serve as a councillor. Open communication, transparency, and fiscal responsibility are important to her. She promotes “sound investment in infrastructures such as libraries, and in people.”
Ron Heraid started his career at age 14 with a little bobcat. Currently a school bus driver, farmer, and owner of TLC Boarding & Training Kennels, his platform includes improving road maintenance and promoting safety and security from the increased number of break-ins.
Kevin Wirsta has a hundred year old legacy on his cow/calf ranch in the Stoney Lake area. He “has an open mind for creativity and synergy,” and sees the County as rich with natural resources.
Darrell Younghans is returning to local politics with the “willingness to be flexible while sticking to my core beliefs.” He recognizes that diversification of business is necessary to strengthen the local economy, and would like to see tax incentives and an expedited permit process. He seeks a unified voice from council to support such issues as reducing crime.
Not at the forum, Dean Smith is a farmer and owner of an oilfield maintenance company who is willing to listen to the concerns of the people in division 1. He is a strong advocate for agriculture, but intends to “work with industry to enhance economic growth for all stakeholders.” He strives to improve infrastructure while investing tax dollars in the areas where they were raised, and maintaining fiscal responsibility. He also intends to work toward reducing local crime.
As moderator for the event, Kevin Bernhardt said, “The future of the County of St. Paul is in the hands of the people in front of me: the voters. Remember to vote on October 16.”
Where to Vote
Polls open at 10:00 am and close at 8:00 pm.
Division 1 – Ferguson Flats Hall, Heinsburg Seniors Centre
Division 2 – Elk Point Seniors Centre, Stoney Lake Hall
Division 3 – St. Paul Legion, Lac Bellevue Hall
Division 4 – Cork Community Hall, St. Paul Legion
Division 5 – Ashmont Legion, Boscombe Community Centre,
St. Vincent Parish, St. Paul Legion
Division 6 – Mallaig Seniors Centre, Boyne Lake Ukrainian
Church, McRae Recreation Centre, St. Lina Ag
Advance Polls – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2017
10 AM – 5 PM
ELK POINT SENIORS CENTRE
COUNTY OF ST. PAUL ADMINISTRATION OFFICE