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Candidate Q & A: Wow factor

St. Albert candidates for the Oct. 18 municipal election weigh in on what makes them stand out from the pack.
Municipal-Election

Send us your election questions
The Gazette has reached out to all St. Albert candidates with a list of 12 questions, and the answers will run in The Gazette each week as the Oct. 18 election approaches. Question topics touch on taxation, climate, development, funding shortfalls, business, traffic, transparency, reconciliation, the city’s Badger Lands solar-farm project, and more. Now we want to hear from you. What questions are at the top of your mind going into St. Albert’s municipal election? Email us the questions you'd like candidates to answer: [email protected]

Voters in St. Albert will certainly not be starved for choice come election day on Oct. 18. 

With a full slate of candidates — and then some — a strong vision for the future of St. Albert and a concrete understanding of how platform points can be implemented will allow candidates to stand out. Alternately, repetitive complaints and vague statements are more likely to ensure some fade into the background.  

What experiences and qualities make these candidates unique? The Gazette reached out to all candidates running in the St. Albert municipal election to ask them what they bring to the table that distinguishes them from other candidates. 

Mayoral candidates had 120 words to answer the question:

Bob Russell: I bring experience to the table and the ability to chair a meeting and move the subject matter along. As a six-term member of the Edmonton Metro Regional Planning Commission, I chaired many planning meetings in the smaller municipalities. I have decades of experience in junior hockey where I have chaired some pretty rough meetings and was able to do so using my sense of humour.

David Letourneau: I believe I have the most breadth of experience. I’ve worked in both the public and private sector, in multi-national, provincial, and small business settings. Having a business degree and this diverse work experience allows me to be open to a broad range of differing viewpoints and solutions. I have demonstrated an ability to foster healthy discussions to bring people together to achieve common goals, supported by evidence-based decision making. I believe there are multiple ways to get to a destination, and only by coming together respectfully can we fully be successful as a municipal government and community.

Cathy Heron: Experience and a proven track record. I know St. Albert and I know the issues. It is not only my time on council, but my entire life has been spent living and loving and volunteering in this community. I have the established relationships to jump right in and solve these issues. I believe we need continuity at a time like this. There is a steep learning curve to sit as a councillor and even steeper to jump into the mayor’s chair. We need to hit the ground running in November.

Angela Wood: My experience in risk management has afforded me the necessary skills to critically assess and evaluate all situations. We are still in an emergency situation, and I have extensive crisis management and leadership training, which is vital as we move through and out of this pandemic. I approach my decisions with objectivity and due diligence. I will assure that this is a respectful government, where residents can again feel confident that when they come to speak to council, they will be respected by council members. I will ensure their viewpoints can be brought forward without attack and that decorum is maintained.

Council candidates had 80 words to answer the question:

Kevan Jess: Forty-plus years working in and with municipal and government, especially with elected officials, utilizing the Municipal Government Act and related legislation on governance, planning, and operations makes me uniquely positioned as a well-informed participant to guide the City of St. Albert. Experience spans from the operations level to working with multiple mayors and reeves regionally to guide agreements and service delivery. My experience chairing development of consensus-based international standards provides additional insight to move issues forward productively.

Shelley Biermanski: I have extensive people experience, having worked in inner-city areas where people had nothing, to working with the extremely wealthy. I have always had an interest in all lives and have a very strong advocacy for fairness and justice. I can work harder than most. I have an intuition for discovering truth. I never give up on a goal to succeed. I will always present my true self. I can approach most any situation hands on.

Sandy Clark: With 30 years' paralegal experience, I have learned effective leadership and management skills and to lead by example. I’m willing to ask the tough questions to ensure the best possible outcome for St. Albert. I believe my drive, clarity, and persistence are some of my strongest characteristics. For the past two years, I have been an active member of the St. Albert Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, which is an independent, quasi-judicial board making decisions on appeals in St. Albert. 

Wes Brodhead: It’s my experience that sets me apart. First, I served three terms on council and understand the opportunities and challenges facing a councillor. Second, I served my career in public service culminating in a position of leadership over five divisions, 1,600 employees, and $110 million in budgetary responsibility. Third, I led national work teams creating innovative industry programming. Fourth, I volunteered my services on credit union boards, church boards, scouting troops, and sports teams. I’m a 40-year resident of St. Albert.

Gilbert Cantin: I am a professional engineer registered in Alberta. I spent over 20 years on large mega-billion-dollar projects. I worked on highways and infrastructure. I know the costs of building infrastructure. I was part of two mega projects that finished ahead of schedule and within budget, which is not seen often in construction. I am used to fast-moving projects. I know what creates condition to overrun a budget and can avoid it for St. Albertans.  

Wally Popik: Married to Helene 54 years, St. Albert resident 45 years, powerline employee 31 years, self-employed powerline contractor 22 years. Retired. Held leadership roles in business and community since 1974. Experience dealing with the public and various government agencies through community and work. Local, provincial, national, and international level involvement in community and career. Extensive community involvement since 1967. Recognized by peers and communities with awards and community acknowledgements, including the Hockey Alberta Hall of Fame in the builder category.

Joseph Trapani: I am a straightforward person, honest, and believe in St. Albert. I also have the knowledge, working habit, and experience of a council as a whole and on assorted committees. I do not believe in back-room deals, the public votes us in and we should always remember that we work for the community and not for our own pleasure.

Donna Kawahara: I have a bachelor's in health sciences, a master's in health leadership, and 28 years of health-care experience. One aspect of my master's focused on change management, giving me a unique perspective that will benefit St. Albert and help guide the city in the right direction when it’s desperately needed. As a nationless Cree, my journey reconnecting to my heritage could be valuable regarding truth and reconciliation. I hope to help St. Albert connect more deeply to our Indigenous and Métis neighbours.

Rachel Jones: My enthusiasm, altruism, and fresh perspective. Regardless of where I have worked, lived, or volunteered, my friends and colleagues say I make them feel seen, heard, and truly valued. It matters to me! This is why I’m drawn to the work of a city councillor. It is a responsibility and duty to our community. It is not about me — it is about our city as a whole, made up of individuals with a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and needs.

Ken MacKay: I bring extensive executive leadership experience and a specialized training background from my 33-year career with the Edmonton Police Service. I am a leader who works to find common ground and gets things done. My focus is on strong governance and building a well-functioning city council that respects and is respected by all residents. I bring extensive community involvement and a passion for maintaining our city’s natural amenities, cultural events, values, and high quality of life.

Isadore Stoyko: Real-life business experience, common sense, and commitment to a safe, clean, and affordable community to live in.

Jennifer Cote: An absolute passion and respect for democracy, effective leadership, and transparent governance. I tend to look at issues through a critical lens, which allows me to ask effective questions. My career with the provincial government focused heavily on policy design and implementation. It involved collaboration with other branches and ministries, and private stakeholders. These skills are very transferable to the role of councillor. Also, I love St. Albert! I want to make it better for your family, and my own.

Louis Sobolewski: I bring 18 years of audit experience to the table. Numbers can lie just as easily as people can and council has to make decisions based on those numbers, so those numbers need to be verified to make sure they accurately represent the facts. My experience as an auditor will ensure that council will be reviewing numbers that are factual and neutral and are not presented in a way that is trying to influence their decision.  

Leonard Wilkins: In addition to being a long-term resident (26 years) of St. Albert, I bring more than 35 years of business experience, coupled with being a graduate of finance. I have a desire to maintain our infrastructure and services while avoiding debt. 

Sheena Hughes: Throughout my eight years on council, I earned the reputation of a fiscal hawk, with my diligence to minimize tax increases and ensure value for tax dollars. I will continue to provide the needed due diligence for projects and alternate revenue proposals to safeguard taxpayers’ interests. I have fought for residents to have a voice council at meetings and public hearings. I stand up for residents’ rights even when I am the only one standing.

Shawn Lemay: As a proven innovator with a can-do approach who thinks outside the box, I bring fresh robust ideas and perspective from having lived in a dozen cities across the country (and Europe), having worked with municipal governments coast-to-coast-to-coast. I’m an analytical thinker who believes in putting common sense and ethics ahead of sound decision making. I’ve seen successful revitalization projects turn struggles and stress into sustainability. And I’m all ears! I want to listen to you and hear your thoughts, ideas, perspectives.

Mike Killick: Over the past four or five years I have researched numerous subjects and presented many times to council. For example, at the Aug. 30 solar-farm borrowing bylaw ($33-million debt) I was the only candidate to present at the meeting. I opposed the borrowing bylaw. From these experiences I see improvement opportunities, especially on how information is prepared by administration and brought to council and how the public is listened to. Demanding transparency and understanding financial details are my strengths.    

Natalie Joly: My strengths are that I build relationships, I know what I don’t know, and I’m driven to learn. With a long history in St. Albert, I know where our best resources are, and I celebrate them. I reach out to community members and experts to inform my decisions, and I seek out perspectives that are different from mine. I learn not only from staff and residents, but also through continuing education, including an MBA that wraps up this week. 

Ross Guffei: I am not a politician and have no desire to be one.  As a resident of St. Albert, I found myself being frustrated, ignored, and disrespected by both the current council and administration. It became abundantly clear the only way to facilitate change and bring some sanity back to the operation of our community was to run for council. I vow to ask lots of questions, not accept vague political answers from administration, and hold them accountable.  

Mike Ferguson: I don't represent any special interest or business groups, I am only representing the taxpayer. I love this city. 


Rachel Narvey

About the Author: Rachel Narvey

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