After serving as fire commissioner for the province of Alberta, Kevan Donald Jess has decided to run for St. Albert city council.
As fire commissioner, Jess helped municipalities and First Nations identify and manage their risk in areas related to fire and emergency management. Jess also donned his hard hat while doing fire inspections and training throughout Alberta.
“Now I have the time and opportunity to give back to the community and make use of the experiences I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned over the years to take a very good city and help make it better,” Jess said.
Jess said he has an active volunteer history. Most recently, he sat on technical standards panels for the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada and developed an international standard for sustainability and safety in cannabis facilities around the world.
Now Jess said he wants to help the city move toward sustainability, both in terms of climate and cost savings.
Assessing city services and determining whether partnering with other municipalities or contractors might be more beneficial is one avenue Jess said he wants to explore. He would also like to examine the time frame the city uses to maintain public infrastructure.
“When my wife and I moved to St. Albert in 2007, we found out our street was being repaved,” Jess said. “We were surprised because it was in as good a condition as the one we’d lived on for many years before.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have a large, smooth street, but I’m wondering if the time frames are too aggressive, or there’s not an opportunity to look at the actual physician condition of the asset.”
Jess said he wants to work toward ensuring council is accessible to the public for communication “without the intervening filter of administration,” and noted he takes issue with the current amount of time council spends meeting in private.
Further, he said social values such as diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation are also among his priorities.
“[Are] our council and the city living the tenets of the Payhonin report and implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations that impact municipalities?” Jess asked.
Developing regional partnerships is also something Jess wants to help St. Albert build. Because St. Albert is so close to Edmonton, Jess argued there is a tendency to look toward the larger city for guidance.
“Part of that’s completely understandable, but Edmonton is a pretty big fish in the pond,” Jess said. “Our natural partners are probably more appropriately Sturgeon County and the Town of Morinville. I want to help focus our regionalization efforts.”
While Jess has several guiding principles in his council platform, he said his agenda isn’t set in stone.
“I’m much more about dialogue,” Jess said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to work with other elected officials and administration on how we can keep the city the place that it is, as well as making it better for the future."