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Transparency hot-button issue with late-comer candidates in St. Albert

Candidates joining the race last minute pinpointed transparency and trust as key issues they would prioritize if elected.

Official Candidate List Finalized
There are four candidates running for mayor in St. Albert: Cathy Heron, David Letourneau, Bob Russell, and Angela Wood. 

Twenty candidates are running for a one of six council seats: Shelley Biermanski, Wes Brodhead, Gilbert Cantin, Sandy Clark, Jennifer Cote, Mike Ferguson, Ross Guffei, Sheena Hughes, Kevan Jess, Natalie Joly, Rachel Jones, Donna Kawahara, Mike Killick, Shawn LeMay, Ken MacKay, Wally Popik, Louis Sobolewski, Isadore Stoyko, Joseph Trapani, and Leonard Wilkins. 

The official roster of candidates for St. Albert’s coming Oct. 18 municipal election has been finalized following the declaration deadline at noon on Monday, Sept. 20. 

A total of four mayoral candidates and 20 council candidates are slated to run in the election. 

The Gazette asked candidates who declared at the last minute what two issues in the community would be their main priority if elected. 

Angela Wood, a mayoral candidate who is currently completing her law degree at the University of Alberta, said improved transparency and communication would be key issues she would want to address if elected. 

“You can show respect for the public, even when you’re hiding the decision making process from them,” Wood said. “I believe we need to take back City Hall and let the residents know what’s happening, and be willing to have those discussions, even if they’re uncomfortable.”

Wood added examining the city’s Badger Lands solar-farm project and proposed municipal energy corporation would also be priorities. 

“What I’ve seen with the previous council is the majority of them have not undertaken the scrutiny residents deserve,” Wood said. “I’m prepared to make sure we do not go into that or any other project with a biased lens, and are prepared to stop decisions if they’re headed in the wrong direction.”

Shawn LeMay, retired RCMP officer and council candidate, also said trust, transparency, and communication would be his priority if elected. 

“These are core values a mayor and council need to live and work by,” LeMay said. “Other aspects like infrastructure, service delivery, it all falls under that. For example, photo radar. Is this effective? Is it a cash cow? … These are questions that could be answered by opening up the books.”

LeMay said he has spoken to a number of people in the community who have had their trust in the city negatively impacted due to a perceived lack of transparency. 

“The next council — whether it’s a mix of incumbents and new faces, or all new faces — is certainly going to have to work at earning that trust,” LeMay said. “It’s not good for a mayor and council to be reactionary.”

Louis Sobolewski, council candidate and Canada Revenue Agency employee, also pinpointed transparency and trust as key issues for him in this election. 

“People feel that council has predetermined what they’re going to do about issues, and the meetings they hold are really just formalities,” Sobolewski said. “I want to see if I can give voters more confidence that council is actually working for them.”

Sobolewski also said city spending needs to be approached with more scrutiny by council, giving the example of money the city has given to Edmonton Global, an economic development organization for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.
“The money thrown around without in-depth discussion just seems wasteful,” Sobolewski said. “I want to change that, and let people know that no, council is very aware of how important it is to manage money wisely.”

Mayoral candidate David Letourneau could not be reached at the time of publication. 

The election will take place on Oct. 18. 

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