A council veteran is coming out of retirement to try and reclaim his seat from the man he endorsed as his replacement.
Former councillor Jerry Kaup announced last Aug. 28 that he would run against Coun. David Kluthe this fall in Division 4.
Kaup, 67, is a lifelong county resident who farms just west of Morinville. He served as a school trustee from 1986 to 1992 and as Division 4 councillor from 1992 to 2010, choosing then to retire from politics. Kluthe succeeded him, beating candidate Al Homeniuk by seven votes.
Kaup said pressure from residents plus dissatisfaction with the county’s direction pushed him to get back into the political game.
“The hardest task was telling David (Kluthe),” he said, whom he had endorsed to run in his place in 2010. “He’s a good friend and a neighbour, but he’s aligned himself so much with the mayor, and it’s kind of been a dysfunctional council for a little while.”
County council has become “Americanized” under Mayor Don Rigney, Kaup said, with councillors dividing along party lines into 4-3 splits with most votes. “They can’t make a decision without trying to undermine previous decisions,” he said, citing council’s flip-flops on buying road-building equipment.
He also criticized some councillors for taking frequent trips out to places like Texas on the county’s dime. “I don’t know why we have to send three to four people down there at quite an expense.”
The county used to be the envy of the region financially, he continued. “Now they’ve got to take out debentures to fix roads.” Instead of earning interest on reserve funds, the county was now paying interest on loans.
“I’d love to say, ‘Let’s lower taxes and make it easier,’ but then who pays the bills?” Kaup said he would move to rebuild the county’s reserves if elected, using cash from the upcoming North West upgrader to do so.
In the province’s eyes, Kaup said, Sturgeon County has gone from a respected regional leader to “a bunch of jerks,” a change he hung on Rigney. “He’s embarrassed us somewhat with the comments he’s made.”
Describing himself as a people person and a peacemaker, Kaup said he would improve relations on council and with the county’s neighbours if elected. “I’m able to work with just about anybody.”
During his previous term in office, Kaup chaired the Sturgeon Foundation during its expansion of North Ridge Lodge, and worked with 13 municipalities to on a plan to reuse wastewater for industry through the Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Commission.
Kaup said he would be a thoughtful, objective councillor if elected, one that would not be beholden to business interests or the mayor. “I’d bring a little bit of stability back to council, hopefully.”
Nomination day is Sept. 23.