About Town Councillor Derek Schlosser

·4 min read

“I didn’t like the fact that it was a bunch of old guys, and I thought we needed to have some family representatives on there, like people with young kids or young families. My wife said that if I was going to beak about it, then I better step up. So, I did. Then I got elected, and she regretted it after I think,” he chuckled.

A teacher at Hilltop High School, Schlosser wasn’t sure if it would get in. “I had been in the community since 1992, so after teaching kids for twelve years, I knew that there was a lot of people in the community that knew me, but you are never really sure. I ran against big names. I didn’t know if I could bump an incumbent off. I just spoke from my heart and said that for me, it was all about families and the future.”

Schlosser said that back then, there wasn’t much for families to do. “People did nothing to keep people here. Then we brought in the Allan & Jean Millar Centre and Rotary Park and then recently the ski hill and Mountain Bike Park and lots of walking trails, things that families can do.” He said that when the planning started for Rotary Park, the pieces fell together perfectly. “Millar Western wanted some fill, and we wanted a hole, so we ended up with them dredging it out, and we ended up with Rotary Park. The cool thing about that partnership is that we ended up with something family-friendly and free. I think that’s important because not all of our residents can afford to be in dance or hockey. It is an affordable thing that any family can do, and it doesn’t discriminate.”

For Schlosser, having to sometimes say no to people is a challenging part of the job. “When people call you, they are passionate about their issue, and their issue is important to them, but I have to balance what’s important for the whole community.” He also said the councillor role doesn’t come with an off-switch. “You’re never off the clock. I take phone calls and emails all the time from people. I think that’s something that I didn’t recognize when I first got on that there was that type of time commitment outside of the actual job.”

As he looks forward to another election year, with plans to put his name in the running again, Schlosser had some advice for would-be candidates. “I think you have to be passionate about the community as a whole, and you’ve got to work as a group with people and be collegial, to get able to get things done. If all seven people are doing the best interest of the community, then it’s powerful, and a lot of really cool stuff gets done.”

Having been on council as long as he has, Schlosser said that people had asked him if he would consider running for mayor. “I’m still employed as a teacher, and I don’t really have the time. I think it has to be someone who has the time to dedicate. I look at Maryann, and she has done a phenomenal job. Once I retire, maybe we will see. I never say never.”

Should he get re-elected again, Schlosser said that he would like to see the town pursue the idea of a performing arts building and a new library. “I think that’s one thing in this term that I would like to see be seriously considered, especially with the federal government grant we got. It’s going to take some education of the public explaining where the money is coming from, and if we can actually afford this, and if we can, then I want to see us explore that avenue.”

As for his focus, Schlosser said it’s never changed. “To me, it is all about keeping families here and keeping people here and having things for people to do within the sensibility of taxation. Not to toot my own horn, but I think that Whitecourt is a much better place than it was twenty years ago. When I first moved here in 1992, this was a place on the map where people made some bucks, and six months later, they hit the road, and it’s not like that anymore.”

Schlosser is entering his final teaching year and said he looks forward to collecting his pension while he still can. He and his wife have been married since 1993. “I met her at the first dance I went to in University. I asked her to dance before she got her coat off, and we have been together ever since.” His son, Jack, is 21 and in his fourth-year millwright, while his daughter, Emma, is entering her second year of Honours Biochemistry at the University of Alberta and is on the Dean’s list.

“My favourite part about being a councillor is that I have a direct hand in making the decisions and direction that our community moves in. It’s been a very positive experience for me, and I am really proud of what we have accomplished.”

Serena Lapointe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press

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