Bracko leaves respectable legacy
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 07, 2013 06:00 am
Oct. 21 will mark a milestone in St. Albert politics. Election day 2013 will produce a city council that, for the first time since 2001, does not include Len Bracko. On Thursday the veteran councillor/alderman (and former MLA) announced he will not seek a council seat this fall.
Attributes that stand out about Len Bracko are his decency as a human being, his willingness to help out and his desire to build a better community.
Wherever he went and in whatever he did, Bracko always had St. Albertís interests at heart. Many local groups benefited from his volunteer efforts, which also spilled beyond national borders. His international charity work included Habitat for Humanity builds in Nicaragua and Nepal, and a municipal partnership between St. Albert and Dodoma, Tanzania.
For 10 years Bracko served on committees and as a director of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He also served as a director of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) for six years.
Locally, Bracko was active in working with community groups, particularly those related to seniors and the environment.
But itís the LRT issue with which his name will always be associated. Bracko has been the most vocal and tireless advocate for planning for an eventual LRT line from Edmonton. Itís a credit to his powers of persuasion that Bracko was able to convince the current council to approve a $500,000 study into the alignment of a potential future LRT line through St. Albert. This issue appeared to be long dead but Bracko refused to let it go. Now itís approved.
Bracko has long shown that heís a survivor. An opponent of the controversial west road, which was eventually built and named Ray Gibbon Drive, Bracko was the only member of the 2001 council to be re-elected after that council nixed the road.
Bracko is good at getting out, meeting people and gathering feedback, parlaying this ability into repeated election wins. He wasnít without his faults as a councillor, however. He sometimes seemed unprepared at council meetings and tended to get caught up on pet issues: seniors, environment, LRT to the exclusion of active participation or deep understanding of other issues. Overall, he was generally strong on social issues but not as conversant in those related to economics or business.
He was ideologically opposed to debt, stemming from a laudable desire to avoid letting the city sink into financial hot water. However, his staunch opposition to using debt for large capital projects demonstrated a limited understanding of the principles of finance.
Despite these shortcomings, Brackoís heart is always in the right place and itís always been clear that he cares deeply for his community.
Brackoís departure, along with that of Roger Lemieux, guarantees that the new council will feature at least two new faces, which isnít a bad thing. A city council, like any organization, benefits from an injection of new people, ideas and energy.
Len Bracko deserves a genuine thank you from the citizens of St. Albert for his years of dedicated service. Now itís time to embrace the future for which he helped lay the foundation.