“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” – Groucho Marx
Once again, the silly season is upon us. This year it could get even sillier with a record 25 candidates for the six positions on city council and three candidates for St. Albert’s next mayor. It may be very interesting, but more likely a little tedious, paying attention to all 28 candidates spout off their rhetoric at the regular candidates forum. With the small amount of time allotted to each speaker it will be important for voters to research their preferred candidates’ platforms more closely through other means.
That said, I commend all 28 candidates for putting their names forward and exercising their civic duty. Win or lose, I trust that they will bring forward new and innovative solutions to solve the many issues that confront the city.
The 2017 election will be an important one for St. Albert as the past term of office has seen a disjointed council pitting the nays against the yeas on numerous occasions. Infrastructure and integrity are certainly key issues. The new council will continue to face a challenge between the readers, the swimmers and the skaters, not to mention the competing issues of the spenders and the savers. No doubt debate on these issues will bring about a healthy compromise.
The congestion on both Ray Gibbon Drive and St. Albert Trail are transportation issues that continue to perplex St. Albert commuters in particular, but also all drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Photo radar continues to be a pain in the wallet for many.
With the new annexation areas and the growth of St. Albert the new council will have to pay attention to the administrative demands of a burgeoning bureaucracy.
Regional issues will also loom paramount in the coming term with the absence of the superb job current mayor Nolan Crouse has done in bringing harmony on the regional front. Shared regional transportation and economic issues remain to be confirmed by the new leadership on the Capital Region Board.
The past four years has been ripe with conflict on city council with a divided council, often with harsh words spoken between the two sides. This lack of harmony amongst colleagues will likely play a major role in the mayoralty contest. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the two incumbent councillors facing off at the podium, challenged by a former colleague untainted by the troubles of the incumbent councillors.
Hopefully the next four council years will bring less drama and a more scripted plot for the future of our city. Good luck to all – the electorate looks forward to healthy and constructive debate over the next week and a half.
Ken Allred is a former St. Albert alderman and MLA.