McGillis, van Woerkom, McLennan step up

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Clarification
This story originally said that Rudy van Woerkom was “A 12-year volunteer firefighter and deputy chief with Namao Fire and Rescue.” This was based on information provided by van Woerkom. He wishes to clarify that although he did volunteer for the Namao fire service for 12 years, he no longer serves with it.

Two new faces and a familiar one have stepped forward to challenge Councillors Wayne Bokenfohr and Susan Evans for their seats.

Ken McGillis, Matthew McLennan and Rudy van Woerkom have declared their intention to run for council in this fall’s election. McGillis and McLennan are running against incumbent Bokenfohr in Div. 3, while van Woerkom seeks to challenge Evans in Div. 2.

Old, new in Div. 3

McGillis is a longtime resident of Division 3 and served as its councillor for nine years before stepping down in 2013.

McGillis said he hadn’t planned on running again, but that the issues raised last winter by Sturgeon United Residents for Effective Accountable Leadership (SUREAL) and encouragement from his neighbours inspired him to get off the bench.

“I believe I can provide the best representation,” he said, pitching himself as a source of reliable, responsible representation for Div. 3 residents.

McGillis said his nine years as councillor showed that he was an effective leader who researched his positions and worked well with others. He is also a founding member of the West Sturgeon Aging in Place Foundation and has long worked to support the West Country Hearth seniors’ home.

McGillis said he would call for effective traffic monitoring to ensure regular road maintenance if elected, adding that the county had put in a plan to deal with its ongoing road issues. He favoured construction of the county campus “in a controlled manner,” and wanted to see a strong business case for the Morinville rec-centre before committing cash to it. He would also seek to promote the development of the Industrial Heartland and address agricultural issues in the land-use bylaw.

McLennan, 39, is the owner and operator of the landscaping company Labour Neighbour and has a degree in phys-ed from the University of Alberta.

“My business, I started it from scratch,” he said, building it through good service and hard work. The work taught him to understand a balance sheet and work with others.

McLennan said he wanted to improve accountability and communication on council, as he had heard many residents say that the recent land-use bylaw was poorly communicated. He said he would put more ads in the paper and do more public surveys to improve communications of future initiatives if elected.

“I’m a younger person. I have a new perspective on some of these issues.”

McLennan said the county needed top-grade infrastructure to draw business, and supported paving Meadowview Drive and getting an improved water supply at Villeneuve Airport. He also supported construction of the new Morinville rec-centre.

McLennan has previously volunteered for regional races such as the Servus Edmonton Marathon.

van Woerkom in Div. 2

van Woerkom, 56, owns Big City Auto & Truck Wash in Morinville as well as his own car wash equipment business. He lives in Carbondale.

van Woerkom said the cost of doing business in Sturgeon had gone up “immensely” in the 20-odd years he’d lived in the county, and that he had seen council make many questionable expenditures, such as its efforts to build a county campus.

“We have a whole lot more employees than we ever did, and now we want to build a building to put all the employees in,” he said, arguing that the county had not become more productive as a result of the new hires.

“We should maybe find something for them to do versus finding them a home to live in.”

A former 12-year volunteer firefighter and deputy chief with Namao Fire and Rescue and board member of the Western Canadian Motorsport Association, van Woerkom said he would call for a department-by-department staffing review if elected to make sure residents were getting value for their tax dollars.

He also wanted more co-operation on council. When asked how he would get that, he said, “I’m not really sure,” adding that it would likely involve better communication between council, administration and residents.

Div. 5 resident Maxwell Thomas Power has also registered his intent to run in this fall’s election, reports Sturgeon County deputy returning officer Carol Revega. The Gazette has not been able to reach Power to determine if he is running for councillor or mayor despite repeated attempts.

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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.