Ex-SUREAL member to challenge Flynn

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Alanna Hnatiw enters mayoral race

A founding member of a Sturgeon County lobby group has stepped up to challenge the county’s mayor for his job.

County resident and businesswoman Alanna Hnatiw announced last week that she would enter the Sturgeon County mayoral race this fall, making her the first to challenge the incumbent, Tom Flynn.

Hnatiw, a self-employed yoga teacher and owner of an oil and gas service company, is one of the founding members of Sturgeon United Residents for Effective Accountable Leadership (SUREAL) – a lobby group formed last December primarily to criticize county council on a variety of topics, especially the proposed county campus.

As SUREAL is supposed to be apolitical, Hnatiw said she resigned from the group shortly before announcing her mayoral bid and would no longer attend the group’s events.

“If I’m going to speak for all people in the county, then I need to be able to speak for everyone and not for any one particular group.”

Hnatiw, 49, said she decided to run because she felt county residents were not being heard by council.

“The land-use bylaw is a good example,” she said, as council passed it despite a large number of lingering concerns from residents.

“There is a lot of concern with the quality of roads in the county,” she continued, and residents say they get unsatisfactory responses from administrators when they complain.

“The communications strategy needs to be strengthened.”

Hnatiw also criticized council’s pursuit of a new county campus – a project she says was poorly explained to the public.

“A lot of rinks throughout the municipality and towns within this municipality are aging,” she said, and the county should address the needs of its residents before it builds itself more office space.

“We need to address recreation. It’s what keeps people healthy.”

Hnatiw pitched herself as a political outsider with a diverse skill-set acquired from 20 years as a business operator.

“I’m a natural-born mediator. I really do believe we can accomplish so much more if we work to find compromise and pursue common goals.”

Hnatiw is also a past Rotary Club of Morinville president and Sunday school teacher.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.