Jason Alderson, 42, is a fresh face on the local election scene. Though he’s relatively new to Niverville—18 months and counting—he brings municipal council experience with him from his previous hometown of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.
He’s stepped into the ring for a position as councillor and hopes Niverville residents will give him some serious consideration on election day, October 26.
“The reason I’m running, for one, is because it’s my passion,” Alderson says. “And two is just to offer people change. It’s not because I’m any better than anybody else [on council], but I just think that it offers fresh perspective—and if people want change, then I’m somebody that’s on the ballot that they can vote for.”
Alderson is a family man, married with a total of five children. Already successful in his previous career, he is retired and a stay-at-home dad to his three younger children.
The couple moved to Manitoba to aid a family member in their local business. They were drawn to make Niverville their home for the same reasons they once settled in Rocky Mountain House: it’s a growing community that has effectively maintained its rural feel.
“It’s small enough that it could one day grow into a city but still have that small town flare,” says Alderson. “I think it should be one of the goals [of a council], trying to keep that [small town feeling] as much as possible.”
Small town or not, he feels quite strongly that council isn’t benefited by long-term politicians. In his mind, two terms in office is sufficient for any one councillor unless they choose to run for the mayor’s seat after that.
Even as mayor, he says, two terms in that position is probably enough.
“If it’s always the same people on council, then it’s always the same set of eyes on problems,” he concludes.
While Alderson served over six years on a previous council that boasted a much more gender-diverse team, including a female mayor, he says diversity is only achievable if the right mix of people run.
In the end, though, a good diversity of people of different ages is what he feels every council needs. Unfortunately, he says, too many councils are comprised primarily of senior retirees.
One way to make council positions more appealing to the younger generation, he concludes, is by reconsidering council remuneration so that the work will financially compensate for the hours taken away from someone’s full-time career.
But while some look at it as sacrifice for the greater good, Alderson says council service should never be viewed as sacrifice. Instead, it’s actually a step up because of what a person can gain from the experience.
And to those residents who are reluctant to run for council due to a lack of political experience, Alderson offers some encouraging advice.
“A lot of people may be scared to run because they think they don’t know as much as the people who are already there,” he says. “But the reality is, they had a learning curve once as well.”
For Alderson, fiscal responsibility and reducing residential property taxes by growing the commercial sector rank high on his priority list.
“Right now, we’re heading towards tougher economic times and so we definitely need to look at how we’re spending our money… It’s more about needs than wants during these times. [It’s also about building] a strong foundation, which means continuing to grow that commercial tax base.”
And to help grow commerce in the community, Alderson says he’d take a close look to ensure there isn’t a lot of administrative red tape, which in many communities is inhibitive to a business owner who’s looking for a location to put down roots.
If elected, Alderson says he’ll work at bridging the gap between council and the community by bringing a live stream to all council meetings and making recordings available on the Town of Niverville website.
“The reality is that, at the times when meetings [occur], most people have a job during the day and at nighttime are getting the little ones to bed,” he says. “Right now, I think people are not [seeing everything that’s coming out of council meetings] so we don’t know the whole story.”
This would go a long way towards building trust and transparency with constituents, he adds.
In order to demonstrate a high level of trust right out of the gate, Alderson promises the voters of Niverville that he won’t accept any donations to cover his campaign costs.
“I don’t want anyone believing that if I’m taking funds from somebody, that those are the people I answer to.”
A seat in government should be won, he says, not by the size of a candidate’s purse but by the size of their character.
As well, Alderson commits to running a campaign that won’t create needless waste or unnecessary expense. Residents shouldn’t expect to see his campaign signs cluttering up the local landscape. Instead they can find him online and possibly, if time allows, at their door for a personal meeting.
He’s hopeful for the opportunity of a public candidate debate at some point during the campaign. In the meantime, he welcomes any feedback and questions in person, by email, by phone, or on his social media sites (see below).
Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen