A Pineview resident and banker plans to bring his business acumen to city hall as he joins the growing list of candidates seeking a spot at the council table.
Norm Harley announced his candidacy Tuesday night at a forum put on by the St. Albert Taxpayers' Association at the St. Albert Community Hall.
Harley said he is concerned city spending is spiralling out of control. The current council has not guarded the public purse appropriately and that needs to change, he said.
“The present councillors are spenders. I don't believe they have demonstrated that they view the taxpayers are customers that should be listened to,” said Harley in his opening speech.
He said he is concerned not only about spending decisions that have been made, but future decisions and what they could do to the long-term financial health of the city.
He encouraged voters to show their spending concerns at the ballot box.
“This election represents a performance review of the existing council. If you agree that they have managed your tax dollars in a responsible and prudent manner, then re-elect them. If not, elect someone you believe will.”
Harley has been a city resident for 25 years and has worked in banks and credit unions for 37. He plans to retire next year, giving him the time for a council position. This is his first run for a council seat.
The father of three and grandfather of three said he wants the city to be affordable to everyone.
His work, he said, has given him experience in scrutinizing financial statements and understanding long-term debt.
The city is not living within its means and he hopes to bring that experience to council, he said.
“I want to limit the operating budget and capital spending to what we need. I want St. Albert to be affordable to everyone.”
Harley said he is also concerned about the development Habitat for Humanity has proposed for 70 Arlington Dr. The project is just a token gesture and won't provide truly affordable housing, he said.
“All we are doing is moving them out of somewhere they might be living now and moving them into this box.”
The proposed homes are too small for young families, he said.
The recently approved downtown redevelopment plan was another mistake, he said, because too many questions, including the costs of the proposal and the routing of city roads are unclear.
“To me they are putting the cart before the horse.”
Even though he hasn't agreed with many of the current council's decisions Harley wants to work with people and try and find common ground.
“I wouldn't go there with the attitude that I was just going to vote no on everything. You have to be open to ideas. You have to see where other people are coming from.”
Harley's entry into the race brings the field for city council to 13 candidates, including challengers Stanley Haroun, Cathy Heron, Malcolm Parker, James Van Damme, Aisling Pollard-Kientzel, Cam MacKay, Frances Badrock, Wes Brodhead, and incumbents Roger Lemieux, Gareth Jones, James Burrows and Len Bracko.
Election day is set for Oct. 18.