SUNDRE — Although mayor Terry Leslie said he does not intend to seek re-election, his remaining council colleagues have all committed to campaigning for another term.
Councillors Cheri Funke and Richard Warnock have already submitted their nomination papers for the position of mayor.
But Rob Wolfe, Todd Dalke, Charlene Preston and Paul Isaac all confirmed when contacted last week that they plan to seek re-election in the Oct. 18 municipal election.
“I certainly am,” said Wolfe.
“I have my nomination papers. I will be going to a few houses this week to get some signatures, then I’ll be filing my paperwork. I feel there’s a lot of work to be done, and we’ve done some good work so far these last four years, and I’d like to continue with that journey,” he said.
“It’s been a good, challenging four years, and I look forward to four more if I get re-elected,” the first-term councillor said, adding he looks forward to campaigning and participating in the election forums.
Dalke said a lot of the people he’s heard talking about running for council are also those who believe the entire council needs to be new, and the municipality’s administration changed.
“It doesn’t work that way. There’s policies and rules and laws and all of those things in place, and some people don’t understand that,” he said.
“Historically, I’ve heard from talking to people in town though, that whenever there’s a whole new council, they have a whole new agenda, and it’s like a hard swing left to hard swing right every few years.”
But the first-term councillor and business owner said council and administration has laid a solid foundation of groundwork for development plans and policies, and hopes there will be some consistency carrying that vision ahead.
“We still have lots to do and move forward on,” he said, citing examples like the costly wastewater treatment lagoon’s upgrades, the new recreational and campground area, ongoing efforts to pave the way for a new hospital as well as recruit physicians, and an emergency tri-services building.
These massive undertakings do not materialize out of council meetings a couple times a month, he said.
“A lot of people don’t understand that being a council member isn’t just one meeting every two weeks. It can take 20, 30 hours of your week — sometimes more, sometimes less.”
As a business owner, Dalke said he must also balance his responsibility to his roughly dozen employees.
“As it sits now, I absolutely plan to run. Am I going to put my papers in tomorrow? No,” he said.
“(But) I do love the town.”
Preston, a self-professed “political nerd” who is also a first-term councillor, said her past experience and passion for politics has developed a network of contacts that are valuable for the position.
“I’m no stranger to politics. I worked for MLAs for years. I was in student politics in college and did very well there,” she said, adding she studied at Olds College, where she was president of the student association for two years and named top student leader in 2001 by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges.
“I kind of grew up around politics. So, politics is not new to me, even though this is my first actual term as a town councillor,” she said.
Although fairly new to Sundre when elected in 2017, she said the community “truly has become my home” and expressed a sense of excitement for the future.
While the ongoing pandemic has presented adversity and created challenges, she said council has presided over significant growth over the past few years.
“We’ve had some really great projects,” she said, citing examples such as the Candre Cannabis facility, the new Esso gas station convenience store and McDonald’s, as well as being the location of the fictional town of Hardwell in the pilot episode of Pipe Nation.
“We’ve had some exciting things, and there’s a few things on the go still,” she said.
She also hopes to continue working as a council representative on organizations like the Sundre Hospital Futures Committee, Sundre Petroleum Operators’ Group, Seniors Protected and Respected Under Community Engagement, and the Sundre Aquaplex.
Echoing similar sentiments as Dalke, she said there is far more to sitting at the council table than opening a binder minutes before a meeting and then making decisions.
“It’s not just going to a council meeting every two weeks. It is getting the agenda, reading it over — sometimes they’re 250 pages — and you have to be prepared for those meetings,” she said.
Add to that all of the other council committee appointments — which aren’t always obvious to people on the outside looking in — and the number of meetings per month, and therefore documents that must be read and understood, quickly piles up a big work load that requires time and effort, she said.
Wishing Leslie the best in his next endeavours, Preston said she welcomes the opportunity to work with the new mayor and council, whoever they may be.
Isaac, a three-term council veteran and business manager, said he would probably be running for re-election.
“This whole year of 2020 has been a very tough year on all municipalities. It’s been a tough year on families. The economy has not helped,” he said.
“So, I want to hope that when we come out of this year, the economy starts getting better and the pandemic starts to lessen, and I want to believe that we can maybe pursue some of the projects that we were working toward, which hopefully will really benefit Sundre residents.”
A lot of positive progress has begun, and despite delays due to the pandemic, Isaac remains optimistic that this time next year, the situation will be vastly improved.
“And I want to be a part of that if I can,” he said, expressing a desire to see the business community’s potential grow more with the objective of broadening the tax base to reduce the overall burden on residents.
“I sure hope that we can continue moving in that direction and work harder at keeping our taxes down.”
Albertans will elect their local municipal councils on Oct. 18.