After an acclamation three years ago, the race for Morinville council is much fuller this time, with two candidates for mayor and a 10-way race for councillors’ seats.
Incumbent Mayor Lloyd Bertschi filed nomination papers Monday morning alongside current Coun. Joseph Trapani who made the surprising decision to run for mayor.
Trapani, who is finishing his first term on council, said he made the decision to run for council because he believes residents of Morinville should have a choice.
“I believe in the democratic process and no one else is running against our good mayor. I decided I should run against him and bring some new ideas forward.”
Trapani said he supports more economic development in the community to attract new business and help retain the existing ones.
He said people have to know the town is open for business.
“We have to tell the world that we are here.”
He said he also supports looking at ways to bring in new facilities for youth.
Bertschi, who has been mayor for nine years, said he is up for the challenge and believes the community is on the right track.
“I still believe I have lot to offer the community and we have established a really solid foundation now and are ready to take the next leap.
Bertschi said he hopes to expand the town’s commercial and industrial development. He said they have successfully attracted a lot of new residents, but they need to do more to attract businesses and industry.
“We need to focus in on some non-residential development.”
He said the town is in a good position today, but if it continues to rely only on residential taxes, there are going to be some major challenges.
“Over the long run that is going to really, really challenge us and we need to start addressing it right now.”
The healthy field for council includes four incumbents — Paul Krauskopf, Donna Phinney, Ben Van De Walle and Gordon Boddez — and six newcomers in Lisa Holmes, Nicole Boutestein, Kerry Knight, Jackie Luker-Chevalier, Lucie Roy and David Pattison.
Phinney said she is intrigued by the amount of interest in the race.
“It is going to be interesting it could give us a whole new dynamic.”
She said in the term ahead she also hopes to focus on economic development.
Krauskopf said that will also be one of his main concerns if elected, noting more than 90 per cent of the town’s taxes now come from residents, which is heavily unbalanced.
Knight said she has decided to get in the race because she wants to give back to Morinville.
“I am interested in taking a more active role.”
She said the existing council doesn’t accurately reflect the town Morinville is becoming.
“There isn’t anyone on council who represents the young families who are a growing demographic here.”
Boutestein said she feels it is simply time for a change in Morinville and wants to be part of it.
“I am the type of person who believes that if you are going to go in and complain about things, then you should be prepared to help change them.”
She said she would like the town to create easy-to-understand budget documents and better communicate with residents so they know where their money is going.
Luker-Chevalier echoed the concerns about a lack of representation for the town’s young families and said she would like to see the town attract business and industry.
“We need a broader tax base so we can get some of the things we want.”
She said a pool or a renovated and expanded arena would both be nice, but the community can’t afford them without attracting new businesses.
Pattison, chair of the town’s municipal planning commission, said he also wants to see the town broaden its tax base.
“We need to be seen as a pro-business community that presents opportunities for residents.”
Pattison has also worked on the town’s cultural committee and the group commissioned to look into purchasing a new fire truck. He has lived in the community for 25 years.
He said he sees the council run as an opportunity to bring some of his experience in economic development and land use planning to the town he lives in.
An 11th council candidate, Jordan Bodnar, withdrew his nomination papers several hours after filing them on Monday.