Town of Pincher Creek election boasts sizable number of candidates with distinct platforms

·35 min read

Preparation for the Pincher Creek municipal election is underway, and this year there are 13 people vying for a spot on council, each with a unique platform and diverse interests.

There were eight candidates in 2017 and six in 2013, so this is a significant increase in civic interest.

Candidates were given an opportunity to respond to a Shootin’ the Breeze questionnaire about experiences with leadership, financial literacy and their community involvement. The following is a summary of their responses.

Candidates for mayor

DON ANDERBERG (incumbent)

Don Anderberg has served as Pincher Creek’s mayor for 11 years and as a council member for six. What he’s enjoyed most about his role are the challenges he’s had to work through and opportunities he’s been presented with.

“The past two years have been very challenging,” he says. “Moving forward we are going to be faced with many critical issues. I believe my council experience and background can be valuable to guide our community.”

He has taken on many civic duties and has volunteered extensively, sitting on boards and committees for organizations like Family and Community Support Services, Crestview Lodge, Pincher Creek Community Early Learning Centre, Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission, Pincher Creek Regional Emergency Management Organization, Oldman River Regional Services Commission and the Intermunicipal Collaborative Framework. He is also a board director for the Highway 3 Twinning Development Association.

He has been heavily involved as a volunteer with community organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, the Elks, the Legion, and golf and curling clubs.

Anderberg prioritizes community sustainability and viability, housing, and economic development and tourism. He is also passionate about good governance and following legislation.

With public consultation, an economic development strategy has been created and is available to the incoming council.

“We have done well in attracting new businesses and would continue with that direction,” he says.

An experienced mayor, council member and business owner, Anderberg has extensive financial knowledge, particularly when it comes to budgeting and executing large-scale capital projects. He has made significant financial decisions for the community in the past.

Anderberg has taken a leadership role in all the organizations he has been involved with, which he says has given him good experience with planning and organization.

He feels his most important contribution to the community during his council terms has been serving the citizens of Pincher Creek with integrity.

He describes himself as a collaborative person with good listening skills and believes he has worked well with others to achieve many positive results within the community.

Anderberg is in favour of the Grassy Mountain coal project if guidelines are followed and the project is monitored by the proper agencies.

“It would be of value to get that area remediated over time and would help our local economy,” he says. “I would welcome an in-depth consultation as promised by [Energy] Minister Savage.

Anderberg would like to see the community continue growing as a primary service centre for southwestern Alberta. He also notes that population growth would help keep service rates and taxes low.

SCOTT KORBETT

Scott Korbett has had his sights set on running for mayor since he entered the local political scene as a councillor.

“I wanted to have a term as a councillor before running for mayor to understand the level of commitment required to the role,” he says.

In the past 25 years he has taken on a variety of civic roles, such as town councillor for one term, chairman of the Municipal Development and Subdivision Authority and member of the Pincher Creek and District Chamber of Commerce.

He has also volunteered extensively as a firefighter/EMT, president and executive member for the youth exchange of the Rotary Club of Pincher Creek, and a member of the Pincher Creek Elks.

Korbett’s campaign focus is on innovation and collaboration, and his priorities are community growth, business viability and municipal service.

He believes in following the recommendations of the current economic development strategy along with creating more combination living and working space, and reasons to be in the community.

Korbett owned and operated a small business in Pincher Creek for more than 18 years. This, along with current business operations as a realtor have given him a solid understanding of accounting principles and strategies.

He says his previous town council experience and business negotiation skills have placed him in a position to lead a community.

“It is key to be able to be open to changing your mind as information is provided,” he says. “Working to understand all sides of an issue helps make a good decision.”

In the past term, he says, his most important contribution was his role in co-operating with regional partners.

Korbett describes himself as an open-minded person who is solution-oriented and loves to share ideas. He is passionate about his community and enjoys making connections.

He says his previous council experience has led him to better understand viewpoints that differ from his own and he is committed to understanding all sides of an issue before making a decision.

Korbett is in favour of responsible development and of public engagement to make changes to coal policies, not arbitrary changes.

A community that prioritizes innovation and collaboration, yet still meets residents’ basic needs, is what Korbett envisions as ideal.

“Every opportunity I have had in my adult life has come from this community, and I have a responsibility to serve and to give back,” he says.

JIM LITKOWSKI

Jim Litkowski decided to run for mayor to advocate for greater council transparency and a decrease in spending. He was a spokesman for Our Voices Matter in 2020, is a former councillor himself and is a board member of Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village.

Litkowski’s priorities are council transparency, budgeting and holding the line on spending.

He would like to see transparency in all council decisions and notes that many seniors and single parents can’t afford tax increases.

Litkowski says his previous 16 months on council provided the financial experience required for making decisions on behalf of the community.

His interest in seeking election is inspired by significant deficits in budgeting that council is predicting for the next three years.

Before making an important decision, Litkowski likes to hear all sides of an issue.

Litkowski has no comment on coal mining on the eastern slopes.

On the economic development front, he says the town needs a major employer to commit to the area.

Pincher Creek is “presently in need of employment to attract newcomers, infrastructure and employers to help the town move forward,” he says.

Candidates for council

MARK BARBER (incumbent)

Mark Barber’s second term on town council is drawing to a close and he’s seeking re-election.

He has been actively engaged with the facility, recreation, library and police advisory committees, the Chinook Arch Regional Library board and finance and administration committee, as well as being a board member and treasurer for Community Futures Alberta Southwest.

He has been involved with the curling club building replacement, upgrades to the golf course, sports fields and expansion of the library, and he’s seeking re-election to advocate for the continuation of these projects.

“I remain concerned that if I step away from council, these projects may not proceed and that the knowledge that I have gained regarding these projects will be lost,” he says.

Community volunteerism has included service to the Mustangs Football Club, Rotary Club of Pincher Creek, Pincher Creek United Church, Windy Slopes Health Foundation, and Castle Mountain Resort and Freestyle Club. He has also been a Scouts leader.

Priorities for Barber are keeping property taxes low, ensuring emergency services are adequately funded and maintaining community infrastructure projects.

When it comes to economic development, Barber wonders what it would look like if every business could hire one more person — he thinks it would have amazing results. He also says a campaign that promotes local shopping and utilization of services remains critically important.

Barber says his strongest contribution to council so far has been his passion for betterment of our youth and his financial knowledge.

His undergraduate work in agriculture and business administration stressed financial management and his MBA work taught the importance of cash flow management for businesses, government entities and households.

Barber says he will continue to be the fiscal conservative on town council.

He says his greatest insight into leadership has come from coaching football.

“In football your team has 12 players on the field at any given time. If at any time one of the players does not execute their responsibilities as assigned, the whole play falls apart,” he says.

“Even more significant than the possible loss of yards, a player can become injured. It is exceedingly difficult to beat a team that has all of their players executing their responsibilities as assigned.”

He is a proponent of team-based leadership over hierarchy-based structures.

“The most important skill that I have learned is to listen to my constituents,” Barber says. “Often, our community members have insights into our community challenges that can provide me with a positive way forward. I try to keep lines of communication open by stressing that even the smallest citizen’s concern can be significant.”

Offsetting economic benefits with potential environmental damage is a challenge Barber sees with mining on the eastern slopes. His biggest disappointment with the issue is the lack of discussion with First Nations.

“It is difficult to imagine a greater community than we already have,” he says. “We already have access to an almost unlimited number of recreational activities for our population, our community is considered to be very safe, and we have outstanding schools. Our health-care system is remarkable for a community of our size.”

“It will remain exceedingly important,” he says, “that future councils recognize how amazing our community is and work diligently to ensure that our community continues to be outstanding.”

WAYNE ELLIOTT (incumbent)

Wayne Elliott prides himself on the fact that he’s done a little bit of everything.

It’s been 17 years since he was first elected as councillor and in that time he has made significant contributions to community upkeep, upgrading sidewalks and trail systems, keeping the town water and wastewater flowing, increasing funding for libraries, overseeing the addition of a columbarium to the cemetery, and arranging for the holiday train at Christmas. He is proud of these achievements.

He has been actively involved in the local sports scene as a board member and coach for minor hockey, minor baseball and youth bowling, and he has fond memories of social events as an elected official such as jail and bails, pie tosses, parades, hula dances, hamburger fundraisers and pancake breakfasts.

“I have learned a great deal. Although there is a lot of work that goes into being an elected official, I would not trade it for anything,” Elliott says. He is willing to share that knowledge by mentoring newcomers to the position.

Elliott served on town council from 2004 to 2010 and from 2013 to present, has completed the Elected Officials Education Program and is still focused on learning as much as he can.

He doesn’t feel his time is complete yet and says he has more to offer Pincher Creek — a community and people he is passionate about.

Elliott thinks the town should prioritize affordable and attainable housing, building business districts and strategic planning.

He feels broadband will help with economic development in Pincher Creek as will the early-learning centres.

“Having the daycares in place gives people the opportunity to get back to work, showing the world the Town of Pincher creek is open for business,” he says.

With over a decade of council experience, Elliott is prepared to handle the town budget. He helped reduce expenditures by supporting the switch to an automated garbage system.

Elliott describes himself as a good listener with a calming and helpful disposition.

“I take pride in being able to listen and hear people out. I know being a councillor for this long has made me a better person,” he says.

As a 25-year employee in the coal industry, Elliott says the Grassy Mountain debate question is a tough one to answer.

Elliott’s ideal community is a healthy and prosperous town with thriving tourism, energy and heritage sectors.

BRIAN MCGILLIVRAY (incumbent)

Brian McGillivray says he’s returned every call, message and email sent to him in the past four years — the residents of Pincher Creek are his top priority and he’s set on improving community life and keeping the community sustainable through the turbulent times ahead.

He currently is chairman of the Intermunicipal Collaborative Framework committee, allowing for more cost-sharing between the town and the MD, and vice-chairman of the Pincher Creek Community Early Learning Centre, Pincher Creek Housing Foundation Foundation and Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association.

Council committees include MDSA, operations, transportation, airport advisory and policy bylaw review. McGillivray also participated in several meetings with the minister of health where local officials attempted to convey that negotiations with our doctors were urgent and critical for our community.

Prior to serving on town council, he served on the board of directors for the Allied Arts Council. He is also an associate member of the Alberta Association of Police Governance, a volunteer organization working as an interface between police and the province.

“I enjoyed my first-term experience,” McGillivray says. “But most importantly now understand what being a councillor means and how council actually operates. The first part of my first term was a learning period; I learned what I didn’t know I needed to know. This term, if I am elected, I know what I believe needs to be done.”

McGillivray’s priorities are housing, building stronger connections between council and community members, and taxation and spending.

“We are in desperate need of housing. Social housing, affordable housing, condominiums, small-footprint homes, even larger homes. Employers can’t find employees because employees can’t find a place to live. Housing. Without it we can’t grow.

“We need to engage the majority of the citizens of our community; not just those people who are advocating a specific cause. Only in this way will we know what the true majority of our citizens would like to see realized on issues affecting our community.

“We need to take a calm, thoughtful but frugal approach to the spending of tax dollars. The economic future appears extremely unclear. Covid-19 has caused negative and complex issues regarding the way the town has operated over the last two years with individuals, groups and companies receiving funds from the federal government.

“Sometime soon, the federal government will perform some form of a financial reconciliation and the outcome will be staggering. The impact will reach all of us; we know there is only one taxpayer.

“The Province of Alberta is reducing the revenue stream while downloading costs to the municipalities. Tough decisions will need to be made.”

He hopes the new economic development plan will be executed by the next council and says it will be announced soon.

McGillivray has a background in business. Prior to moving to Pincher Creek, he operated a successful multi-million dollar regional company.

“Throughout my career I had full bottom-line responsibility for profit and clearly understood the concepts of revenue shortfall, expense containment and having to make tough decisions when financial shortfalls become apparent,” he says. “I take spending of our citizens’ tax dollars very seriously.”

Running a large company taught him that leadership doesn’t just happen, along with the importance of recognizing individual strengths and teaching others to do the same.

“It is hard work but the key to success,” he says.

Understanding, he says, means playing to the strengths of one’s employees and communicating openly with them to let them know they are valued.

The role of council is different than he originally thought it to be.

“Here is what the Municipal Government Act states in that regard,” he says. “From Section 3 of the MGA: ‘The purposes of a municipality are to provide good government, to foster the well-being of the environment, to provide services, facilities or other things that, in the opinion of council, are necessary or desirable for all or a part of the municipality, to develop and maintain safe and viable communities, and to work collaboratively with neighbouring municipalities to plan, deliver and fund intermunicipal services.’ Further, the way a council operates is through financial oversight and the creation and maintenance of bylaws.”

“Another piece of acquired knowledge has helped me understand the concept of bias,” McGillivray says. “As councillors, we must deliberate and vote without the inclusion of personal bias. The concept sounds simple but when issues arise to which a councillor may have a strong attachment, the ability to remain objective can become very difficult.”

“I believe the knowledge acquired over the past four years will support me as a local government official,” says McGillivray.

Coal mining on the eastern slopes “is a very complex issue with economic benefits competing with environmental concerns,” he says. “Further complications are the emotional attachments voiced by both interest groups.”

“The science of toxic waste management cited by the mining companies is debated by the environmental groups but the economic benefit to communities appears appealing,” he says.

“My understanding is the toxic waste remediation stated by the coal mining companies does not conform to provincial minimum environmental standards and the possibility of water contamination remains a real possibility. So, I am not in favour of coal mining the eastern slopes.”

McGillivray’s ideal of a successful town is one where its future is insured through the effort of its engaged citizens.

TAMMY CARMICHAEL

Tammy Carmichael believes it’s important to capitalize on projects that make a community unique and she looks to nearby communities for inspiration.

Fort Macleod has profited from the film industry, collecting millions of dollars through movie shoots while Crowsnest Pass has developed a thriving food and outdoor recreation scene.

Pincher Creek, she says, needs revenue from projects like these.

“I believe if you want to see something succeed and thrive you have to be willing to put yourself in situations to accomplish these goals.”

Carmichael has always been partial to municipal politics. She describes it as the base of democracy where people are held accountable, not to their political affiliation, but to the people they represent.

She served on town council from 2013 to 2015, sitting on the boards for a variety of local groups including Family and Community Support Services, the Community Housing Committee, Alberta Southwest Regional Alliance, the Subdivision Appeals Board, the Assessment Review Board and the Emergency Services Commission.

She volunteers as much as she can and in the past has fundraised for the Centre for Child Development and acted as secretary-treasurer for the Dolphins Swim Club and the Mustangs.

Carmichael believes council priorities should be supporting local businesses — both new businesses and those transitioning out of their businesses — maintaining rural health care and creating affordable and safe housing.

Her campaign focus is fiscal responsibility and how future changes to policing will affect both the budget and the safety of the town.

“I have been on town council and was involved in the budget process and understand the immense responsibility that is involved with making decisions that not only affect people immediately but also how these decisions will affect future generations,” she says.

She believes in collaboration and that everyone should be heard and respected. Carmichael’s style of leadership is one that takes the opinions of others into account during the decision-making process. She has advocated for the community at various levels in government.

She’s also passionate about creating a safe and inclusive community, particularly for LGBTQ2s individuals and members of Piikani First Nation.

Carmichael will support the federal decision regarding coal mining on the eastern slopes and will respect the outcome of appeals currently being considered.

“I would like to see a community that is inclusive of new Canadians, values our Piikani neighbours and recognizes the historical contributions of those who settled Pincher Creek,” she says.

“I would like to see a strong and diverse economy, one that embraces new technology and finds a way to welcome people to explore the beauty of this area.”

MIKE CHAPUT

Mike Chaput has never served on council before, but the young family man says he’s ready to step in to represent the interests of families, seniors and businesspersons. “

His biggest volunteer accomplishment is raising two service dogs through Dogs With Wings.

“I feel that volunteering is the backbone of the community,” he says. “In my previous communities I have always given as much time as possible to local organizations, from volunteering at community celebrations and fundraisers, to organizing an ATV recreational group that focused on trail management and maintenance.”

His campaign focus and what he thinks should be top priorities for council are the same. This includes regulating pandemic restrictions from a libertarian perspective that safeguards civil liberties, investing in and developing cryptocurrency, and providing mental and physical health support systems.

“I would like to bring forward the possibility of cryptocurrency investment to help relieve the taxpayers of high-cost projects that the town will have in the future,” he says.

“I look forward to making significant financial decisions,” he says. “As a new councillor, listening to the advisors and senior members will be key in making the right decision. When it comes to finances, egos and personal agendas are always best left outside.”

Chaput describes himself as a non-judgmental, flexible truth-seeker and family man, and says personal growth comes naturally to him.

He thinks it’s important to hear all perspectives and listen to the opinions of others, a skill he developed as a director with the Canadian Historical Arms Society.

“It gives you a different perspective on someone else’s struggle and it always makes you appreciate the little things in life that we take for granted,” he says.

Chaput currently works in the coal mining industry and says there is a big misconception on the excavation of metallurgical coal. “My position on the eastern slope is DLS. Dig, load and ship.”

A town with sustainable economic growth, good jobs for upcoming generations and affordable housing is what Chaput envisions an ideal Pincher Creek to be.

DAVID GREEN

David Green believes in the “goodness” of Pincher Creek and wants to make a positive difference by leading the community through the next four years. About to retire, he will have time to devote to doing this.

Green has served as co-ordinator for Pincher Creek and District Family and Community Support Services for the past 12 years. He has also previously served as a municipal councillor, secretary-treasurer for the Pincher Creek Foundation, local manager for Alberta Mortgage and Housing, administrator for the Allied Arts Council, manager of the Waterton Natural History Association, and executive director of the Southern Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative.

“My previous community dedication and experience tells the story,” he says. “I am a good listener and a strong communicator. I am well organized and am passionate about the future of our community.”

Implementing the recently commissioned economic development strategy and dealing with the housing crisis are priorities for Green. With assessments completed, he says there is sufficient information to proceed responsibly with creative and meaningful solutions.

Green notes that housing needs to be part of the economic development agenda as affordability and attainability impact the business community.

“The housing dilemma is critical,” he says. “I am going to suggest that council take a proactive role in the housing business. I will encourage council to take every possible opportunity to encourage and restore the viability of Main Street.”

Infrastructure planning and maintenance are also priorities, along with strengthening the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework.

“I promise to listen, to research and learn and to question,” Green says. “I promise to give fair hearing to the issues that come forward to council and to respect the principles of democracy. I promise to use my time on council efficiently and to respect the strength and capacity of our administration.”

Green does not support coal mining on the eastern slopes.

“I would like to believe that we could all understand that mountain removal is not something we can put back together,” he says.

Water security is also a concern for him.

Green’s ideal community is one with a small increase in population based on stable resource and service employment, adequate and affordable housing, well-maintained and affordable recreation opportunities and continued education opportunities that could include the addition of a minor post-secondary institution.

“Ideally, we would be able to attract and retain a younger demographic,” he says.

JUDY LANE

There’s never been a better time to step up and make your voice known, says Judy Lane. As the pandemic rages onward, she explains, it becomes ever apparent that what people need most is accountable, organized and optimistic leadership.

Lane was a school teacher for 34 years, administrator for one and chaired the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division for four.

She has also been an active member of the community through involvement with the parish council at St. Michael’s Church, St. Michael’s School council, the Police Advisory Committee, the Pincher Creek Community Early Learning Centre, the Alberta Teachers Association and the Alberta Catholic Schools Trustee Association.

Prevailing negativity is behind Lane’s decision to run for council as people are eager to recognize the bad and not acknowledge the good. She’d like to see people educate themselves before making decisions.

“I encourage people to be honest and keep smiling even through life’s adversities,” she says. “Transparent communication is a must — no ‘secrets’ behind closed doors.”

If elected, she will focus on the needs of citizens and support transparency. She sees tourism as key to economic development and hopes residents will speak out about what priorities council should focus on.

Lane feels prepared to manage town finances. “As a school board trustee I have been involved in making financial decisions knowing that our money is being spent effectively and the same with PCCELC,” she says.

Lane has been celebrated for her leadership skills and solid teamwork by the school board, school staff, students and parents, along with colleagues on the ACSTA.

“There are two sides to every story and I believe decision,” she says.

Lane says there are times where leaders need to step up.

“I believe that all is black and white and the grey zones are the reason we are experiencing mayhem in this Covid pandemic — little direction from the leaders,” she says.

“There are times when people are given the freedom of choice, but in times of life and death (like now) we all need to board the same train and the conductor, i.e. our premier, needs to clearly mandate.”

“I am in favour of coal mining for a number of reasons and am aware of the many environmental issues that concern our citizens,” says Lane. “But I am also aware that there are many standards that coal mining must adhere to. We need to educate ourselves about improvements — we are no longer living in the ’50s or ’60s.”

An ideal Pincher Creek, she says, is one with positive vision and focus on how to make a good thing better.

SAHRA NODGE

Nodge is intent on getting Pincher Creek back on track by helping with pandemic recovery.

The town has been facing major fiscal challenges, she says, largely due to reduced provincial grants, changes in intergovernmental transfers and the ongoing social effects of Covid-19.

“I have the skills to work effectively with a council and local government team to navigate these challenges, unravel the complexity and find responses that work for our community,” she says.

With 15 years of experience working in policy development and a recently completed degree in political science, she says she’s in a unique position to understand these complex issues.

“I am interested in developing solutions tailored for Pincher Creek that are grounded in leading practice and evidence yet shaped by the specific needs and conditions of this community,” she adds.

Nodge served on Pincher Creek town council from 2007 to 2013. During this time she held a variety of civic roles including vice-chairperson for the Pincher Creek and District Emergency Management Committee, vice-chairperson and chairperson of the Pincher Creek Foundation, and vice-chairperson of the Developmental Disabilities South Community Board.

She was also a member of the Municipal Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, a panel member of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped and Income and Employment Supports Appeal Panel, and a member of an Alberta Health Services patient and family advisory group.

On the community volunteerism front, Nodge is a current board member of the Allied Arts Council of Pincher Creek, a past trustee for the Windy Slopes Health Foundation and has helped the Pincher Creek Watershed Group through supporting the Blue Weed Blitz.

Priorities for Nodge are ensuring fiscal capacity of the town to provide community services, ensuring Pincher Creek is a welcoming and inclusive community, and cultivating good relationships with regional partners in Piikani Nation, the MD, Cowley and Crowsnest Pass.

“The factors relating to the success of Pincher Creek as a ‘hub’ community and in attracting new investment will be our ability to welcome newcomers, be adaptable to changing economic conditions and provide affordable housing and child care for workers,” she says.

She would like to see economic development in the area of downtown revitalization and development of the community as a “health hub.”

Nodge has gained financial experience through serving on council for two terms and owning and operating a downtown retail store, for seven years. She has also completed the Elected Officials Education Program modules on municipal finance, subdivision and development, decision-making and municipal legislation.

“I have learned that not every community request can be met, and the ability to say no when required,” she says.

As a board member for the Pincher Creek Foundation, she oversaw the $13-million redevelopment of Crestview Lodge.

“While I have strong opinions, in deliberative and negotiating settings I am diplomatic, focused on problem-solving, and an active listener,” she says. “As a facilitator, I am focused on collaboration to ensure the inclusion and engagement of all parties involved.”

Nodge sees herself as a systems thinker who is skilled at working through complex problems to identify areas where change is possible and success is likely.

Nodge does not support mining on the eastern slopes.

“I respect workers employed in the mining industry and their commitment to providing for their families,” she says. “However, I firmly believe our economy needs to transition from an over-reliance on resource extraction, which means not developing new mines in the eastern slopes.”

A vibrant and welcoming town full of healthy people and bustling economic action that fosters inclusivity between regional partners like Piikani Nation, MD Council, Cowley, and Crowsnest Pass is the vision Nodge has for an ideal Pincher Creek.

WAYNE OLIVER

It was 11 years ago that Oliver served on town council and he’s ready for a second term. With a strong desire to serve, he would like to leverage skills developed in his professional life for the betterment of the community.

“A thread that weaves through all my activities in the town of Pincher Creek for the last 27 years is a sense of service I feel. I desire to give back to the community that has helped shape who I am as an individual,” he says.

Oliver describes himself as a logical and practical person. He has a background in renewable energy project development and management, has been an active volunteer minister and Scouts leader and was facilities chairman for the 2019 Southern Alberta Summer Games.

Fiscal responsibility, meeting the health and wellness needs of citizens, and protecting vulnerable populations are priorities for Oliver.

Renewable energy development in appropriate locations with vertically integrated small-scale manufacturing is a suggestion he has for economic development.

Known as a logical, practical person, Oliver has experience working in the trades and with project management, skills that will assist town council in the discharge of its duties to the community.

“As a construction manager in renewable energy, I succeeded in having projects completed on time and on budget by co-ordinating with multiple stakeholders and resolving a variety of concerns that as a diverse team we could achieve a common goal,” he says.

Oliver is accountable to his employer for an operating budget on 11 sites that is equivalent to the town’s operating budget.

“I have the responsibility to review and reforecast those operations budgets monthly. Having signed off on $850,000 invoices in my employment, I am confident I can make responsible financial decisions for the town,” he says.

With regard to coal mining on the eastern slopes, Oliver says, “There are two very entrenched camps on this issue and several years of public debate cannot be adequately summed up in a few sentences in a candidates information sheet.

“I am not opposed to resource development that has as a primary concern the protection of the environment. Can coal be harvested without permanently damaging the environment is the question of our day.”

A town that’s diverse and inclusive, where people feel safe, supported, welcomed and part of something bigger than themselves is Oliver’s ideal view of Pincher Creek.

BLAISE O’ROURKE

O’Rourke has fought fires for the military, run two businesses, worked and volunteered for the Pincher Creek Food Bank, volunteered with the Legion and worked with the Rotary Club, but one thing he’s never done is run for town council.

He developed his leadership skills and sense of integrity as a platoon leader in the military and he wants to support the people and town of Pincher Creek.

O’Rourke’s campaign focus is on low-income housing and “bringing honesty and integrity back to the town.”

He sees selling off or writing off old buildings to open areas for new development as a means of economic development for the town.

Low-income housing, encouraging families to relocate to Pincher Creek and attracting tourists to spend money in town are priorities he feels council should focus on.

O’Rourke ran two successful businesses and would carry the financial experience gained into a role as councillor.

He supports coal mining on the eastern slopes “as long as it does not impact the environmental status and creates job opportunities.”

His ideal Pincher Creek would have more programs for seniors and families, and more job opportunities.

CORINNE PAYNE

Payne wants to see the town and local businesses thrive for years to come. She sees Pincher Creek as a big extended family and she’d love to see more people settle in the area and call it home.

She is a respiratory therapist and through work has been involved in many safety, emergency and public services. Previous employment as a fire dispatcher taught her the ability to stay calm and respond accordingly in high-pressure situations where the difference can mean life or death.

Payne has been involved in faith-based groups, the local sports scene, coaching girls basketball, and leading outdoor camps for young women that teach self-respect and the importance of teamwork. She also volunteers time to teach primary aged children.

Through her experiences, Payne has learned to make the best decisions not just for herself, but for all involved, and to be unbiased and fair. If elected, she says working with the people of Pincher Creek will be her first priority so that decisions, when possible, include not only mayor and council but everyone in the community.

Payne’s focus is on money management and giving people a voice.

“No one likes paying taxes but they are necessary for a town to work. I want to make sure that people know where their money goes and that every dollar spent is done so wisely and accounted for, “ she says.

“When issues or topics arise I want the people of Pincher Creek to feel that they are represented in town council and decisions are made by the voice of the people, rather than quietly behind closed doors.”

In Payne’s eyes, economic development includes accounting for money the town receives and using it well, applying for grants and maintaining existing property and buildings.

Giving people a voice in local matters, ensuring the town thrives as a place for families and businesses, and transparency are top priorities she thinks council should focus on.

Payne’s financial experience comes from running a household.

“I believe every dollar should be accounted for and not spent frivolously,” she says. “I believe Pincher Creek is a much larger version of a family and, as such, I believe when money is spent, that it is spent getting the best bang for your buck. I believe this is of utmost importance.”

As a former respiratory therapist and fire dispatcher, she’s used to taking charge in emergency situations, directing people and making decisions while under pressure.

Payne believes the opinions of mayor and council about coal mining on the eastern slopes should be negligible in comparison to the collective voice of the people.

Payne’s ideal community is one that is affordable for all, with opportunities for recreation and growth.

JOCELYNE SHEEN

Sheen has spent a lot of time observing and thinking about the world since the pandemic started and in times of trouble, Sheen is a firm believer that public action leads to success.

“My desire is to be an influence for good among all those I associate with, and to bring a spirit of peace and positivity to my community,” she says.

Although Sheen has never run for council before, she has volunteered extensively over the past two decades with Girl Guides, 4-H, the Pincher Creek food drive, youth groups and as a music teacher for young children.

“I would like to get to the bottom of the recycling issue,” she says. “I would like to see a few things done more efficiently in the town — for instance, giving public notice as to when streets will be cleaned or plowed so that people can move their vehicles instead of just going around them and not doing a thorough job.

“I feel there needs to be more transparency on things that council is doing or pursuing. I also feel that more public input is needed on certain issues.”

The recycling issue, financial areas (balanced budgets, review of tax rate, etc.) and growing the town with more businesses are priorities Sheen feels council should focus on.

For her, economic development includes promoting Pincher Creek at events in other municipalities and working with the chamber of commerce.

Sheen runs a hair salon and during the pandemic she was forced to shut down multiple times. She kept the business afloat and she plans on using this valuable experience, along with budgeting experience from her personal life, to help council make sound financial decisions.

She held leadership roles through high school and post-secondary and notes that the best leadership training any woman can get is that of being a mother.

She describes herself as transparent and truthful, happy and positive, respectful of others, organized and efficient, a goal setter, open-minded, a unifier, trustworthy, having integrity, having vision, a good listener, kind, easy to talk to and get along with.

“I am the type of person who listens to all sides of a discussion before making any decisions or coming to any conclusions,” Sheen says. “Listening is imperative to coming up with proper decisions for the well-being of all involved.”

“I would really like to be a part of more intimate talks with the experts involved on both sides of this issue [coal mining on the eastern slopes],” she says. “I see the good that mining does for employment in our area, but I also see the environmental side.”

To build an ideal community, Sheen would continue to build on what has been completed already, bringing people, businesses and prosperity to Pincher Creek.

BRIAN WRIGHT

Five reasons Wright is running for council are the grandchildren he hopes can have the same experiences that he had growing up in this “windy but wonderful community.”

Having lived in Pincher Creek for 60 years, he feels his deep roots could be helpful in progressing the community.

Wright has sat on a Government of Alberta advisory recreation committee for the past 25 years. He also spent 17 years on the local recreation board, is a past-president of the Pincher Creek and District Chamber of Commerce, and spent two terms as an executive board member of the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association.

His community volunteerism has included being a member of his church board and parent council board.

On the topic of economic development, Wright says raw land is available for small industry, which would bring families and employment to the community.

He thinks council priorities should be employment, growth and industry.

Wright’s 35 years as a business owner and two-term member of the financial committee of St. Michael’s Catholic Church will support him in making financial decisions on behalf of the town.

He describes himself as a good listener who plays well with others. Wright tries to be fair and has the best interest of the community at heart.

A supporter of coal mining on the eastern slopes, Wright says “It is an immediate and helpful resource needed in the foreseeable future.”

His ideal community is a Pincher Creek that is vibrant and growing.

Learn more about the candidates

An online all-candidate forum for Pincher Creek town council takes place tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. Preregister online to obtain the meeting link and submit questions in advance at bit.ly/3m6YZ9g.

Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze

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