A local realtor has declared his intentions to run for a seat on council.
Mark Cassidy, 52, announced on Thursday, the 25th anniversary of his mother’s passing, that he will be a candidate for a councillor spot in the upcoming municipal election.
“I’ve been a long-term member of the community. I’ve lived in many of the subdivisions of St. Albert. As a realtor I see people of our community every day. I feel I have something to contribute based on living here and based on knowing the people,” Cassidy said in an interview with the Gazette.
Cassidy, who arrived in the city in 1966 with his mother and siblings, has spent most of his life in and around St. Albert. He said growing up in a large family taught him to see both sides of any issue, something reinforced by his 28 years in real estate.
“I think that running for council, you make a decision based on both sides of an issue and you choose what’s best for the people,” he said.
The father of two boys is a member of the chamber of commerce and regularly contributes to the Stollery Children’s Hospital and the Miracle Children’s Network out of his commission, a practice many in his office are proud to participate in, he said.
He’s planning on door-knocking to get a sense of what electors think are the issues in this election, but said what he’s heard so far indicates people want a focus on reducing taxes, lower utility rates and good land-use planning in the short and long term.
“I’ve been sensing the pulse of the people,” he said.
With land-use planning, he noted public concerns over future locations of schools and bike parks. Cassidy thinks a compromise could be made, but suggested the city might have to return to having a municipal planning commission.
Other election issues could be the LRT and its associated study.
“I think this will be a regional planning board issue as opposed to a St. Albert issue. And St. Albert will be a benefactor but CRB should be handling the approval of it,” he said.
Cassidy said city spending is based on a higher growth rate than is actually occurring. When it comes to residential development, he said there needs to be more of a “healthy mix” of housing options, targeting demographics like baby boomers who’d like less yard but wider lots. He suggested the basement suite grant program could be restarted.
He said St. Albert should focus on residential growth because, while it’d be nice to have more commercial growth, homes is where the demand is.
“Our number one industry is residential real estate in St. Albert,” he said.
Efficiencies and cost-savings should be looked for, though not at the cost of good service, Cassidy said, noting most issues come back to taxes. He said there needs to be accountability for city projects and departments.
“I think that a new council should review and make sure that the city is running efficiently,” Cassidy said. “We have to run the city more efficiently and concentrate on needs, not wants as much.”