Morinville’s mayoral race gets second contender

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Bar manager Christa Naughton pledges youth focus

A Morinville bar manager says she’ll make youth her top priority if she’s elected mayor this fall.

Town resident Christa Naughton announced her plans to run for mayor of Morinville last week. She is the second declared candidate in the mayoral race after Coun. Lisa Holmes, who declared her candidacy in June. (Holmes has been unavailable to speak to the Gazette despite repeated requests.)

Naughton, 39, is a single mother of two who has lived in Morinville for four years and managed Morinville’s Shotgun Sally’s Urban Saloon for eight. Originally from Edmonton, she has a certificate as an emergency medical technician assistant from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Naughton was one of the founders of Morinville’s Sports Over Streets charity, which teaches kids about drug and alcohol abuse and helps send them to sports camps. She also co-founded the Good Life Project, which, in partnership with St. Albert’s Good Life Limousine Service, offers free cab rides as a way to combat drunk driving.

While she has no prior political experience, Naughton said she felt she should “go hard or go home” and run for mayor instead of councillor.

“I just think I can make a change,” she said.

Naughton said she’s met many town residents through her job, and felt compelled to run by the concerns she heard from them.

“It just seems that for the last few years Morinville is changing, but not for the better.”

Morinville’s youth are growing in number, Naughton said, and many are dying in accidents or succumbing to drug or alcohol abuse.

“We need to start providing more for the youth in Morinville,” she said, before our youths end up in jail.

“I can’t stand driving by a park at 11:30 at night and seeing all the kids drinking,” she said. “We need to give them something to do, give them a reason to be there and be proud of the community they’re involved with.”

When asked for suggestions on how to help the town’s youth, Naughton initially declined to get into specifics.

“I’m not going to make any promises,” she said, as politicians often brush off promises as soon as they’re elected. “I’m going to listen to the community,” she continued, and make their good ideas happen.

Local businesses could help by taking in youths as volunteers, she said.

“I think every business in Morinville should take a volunteer minor, help them and educate them to go into the workforce.”

She also supported more bicycle patrols by the RCMP and more drug awareness programs for youth.

More amenities could also help, she continued.

“I know a lot of people are talking to me about a swimming pool,” she said, as well as about getting more local stores. “They want to be able to buy clothes in their own hometown. They don’t want to drive.”

Naughton said she sees her background as a bar manager as a plus.

“It’s my job to ensure the safety of everyone in the business as well as the community,” she said, and she gets to meet almost everyone. “You’d be amazed who you meet sitting on the patio at the local tavern.”

Naughton pitched herself as a down-to-earth, jeans-wearing person who was just like any other town resident.

“I have no intention of being a politician,” she said. “I’m doing this because I think I’m a real person.”

Town residents deserve the truth, she said, someone who will speak and fight for them honestly and not get involved in the political issues that come with holding office.

But she acknowledged that her career gave her a big image problem, as some might see “bar manager” and think “party girl,” which isn’t true.

“I don’t do after-parties. I don’t do drugs,” she said.

She also plans to leave her job at the bar if elected.

Naughton said she would have to work very hard to convince residents to look beyond the stereotypes, and hopes they will keep an open mind. Even if she doesn’t win, she hopes the next mayor will address the issues she raises.

“I want to see a Morinville where 16-year-old kids are outside, where they’re volunteering in the community,” she said. “I think Morinville residents would be proud to say I’m their mayor.”

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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.