Rookie councillors looking forward to contributing
Riding the bus for the month of August, visiting construction sites and shaking more than 3,000 hands at 22 public markets paid off for incoming councillor Ken Johnston.
The 59-year-old retired banker is one of three Red Deer city council rookies, along with Lawrence Lee, 49, and Tanya Handley, 39, who will sit at the council table for the next four years.
Well-known for his community work, Johnston says he is most excited about the trust that people have put in him. He says he believes in the city and looks forward to working with the varied perspectives on council. Johnston joins the political arena after recently retiring following 40 years in banking.
“For people who don’t know me, I have a high energy and a sense of humour,” said Johnston. “They also need to know I have always looked at my life in the perspective of being in service.”
The learning curve is likely to be shorter for Lee than the other new faces. Lee has spent the last nine years, three as chairman, on the Red Deer Public Schools board. He will draw on his board and business experience to make a difference. He is a senior analyst for a financial services supplier.
“I am not very complex,” said Lee. “My biggest thing is to contribute as much as I can using my business, school of hard knocks and education (background).”
Handley may not have the board experience or the name recognition, but the mother of three is ready for the challenge. She was the sole candidate running under the Red Deer First banner to win over enough voters for the eighth and final spot on council.
Red Deer First, a group six candidates, ran on platform of fiscal responsibility.
“I am excited,” said Handley, an apprentice hair stylist who has a banking background. “I’m nervous. I am starting to realize the magnitude of the learning curve.”
Handley’s husband, Ryan, was Red Deer First spokesperson and the man behind an anti-bike lane petition. During the campaign, many people got the impression that Ryan was really in charge.
“We both share very similar views on everything but there are lots of things that we disagree on,” said Tanya Handley. “We have some pretty good debates. He definitely does not speak for me. I do value his opinion but I definitely form my own based on my beliefs.”
Handley said she ran on a platform of just being a regular person concerned about taxpayer dollars. While the Red Deer First slate dissolved with the election, Handley says she still shares the views that she campaigned on.
Handley says she looks forward to getting to know the other councillors and learning more about her role.
The 2013-2017 Red Deer city council will be sworn in on Monday at City Hall.