The chair of a prominent council committee and manager of Mayor Nolan Crouse's 2007 election campaign has become the first woman to seek a council seat in the October election.
Cathy Heron, chair of the community services advisory board (CSAB) and a member of the RCMP board, announced her candidacy at a Rotary club meeting last week.
"Everybody I've mentioned it to says I'm needed on council," said Heron, a lifelong St. Albert resident. "They need someone younger and they need a woman."
The 42-year-old community volunteer said she started thinking about running for council six years ago after a discussion with Crouse, at that time a city councillor, about his election win in 2004. She later went on to manage Crouse's successful 2007 mayoral campaign. However, Heron said she has since loosened her ties to the mayor.
"I don't want anyone to ever get the perception that, if I get elected, I will vote alongside everything he says," she said. "I won't. There are a lot of things I disagree with him [on]."
Although she wouldn't get into specific differences, Heron did say she respects the mayor and the work he's done in St. Albert.
Social master plan
One of the main issues in Heron's platform is the creation of a social master plan for the city. It would be long-term endeavour to deal with social issues like diversified housing options and community involvement in neighbourhood development.
"When you're planning a new community, social issues should be taken into consideration," she said, adding everything from accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities, community gathering places, green spaces and even the creation of back alleys has a social impact, affecting issues such as crime and affordability.
Taxes are an issue in every St. Albert election, but Heron is not advocating cuts. Instead she wants limits on tax increases. Lowering taxes is not feasible for St. Albert, she said, adding she wants to ensure increases here are lower than other municipalities in the Capital region.
As CSAB chair, Heron said she understands several issues facing RCMP officers at the local detachment. She wants council to do more work in the area of crime prevention, especially with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program in local schools and vandalism prevention at the community level.
Heron also wants to increase the number of Mounties in St. Albert, adding at the moment resources are strained, especially with the 'no call too small policy' that sees police respond to every call within the city, regardless of its nature.
"They have to look into every call and that's taxing on the department," she said. "I'd like to see the policing model looked at."
Heron studied environmental science at the University of Alberta and NAIT and worked as a biologist prior to the birth of her children. She became a stay-at-home mom when she and husband Rob's first two children, twins Heather and Will, were born 11 years ago. They also have an eight-year-old daughter, Holly.
Heron said she plans to listen to residents' concerns while door knocking and attending other city events. Her website is www.cathyheron.ca.