Slate of council hopefuls want to put Red Deer First
A group of “like-minded” individuals hope to drastically change the face of Red Deer city council.
Calling themselves Red Deer First, as many as eight city residents have joined forces to run in the 2013 civic election on the same platform to secure a spot on council.
Calvin Goulet-Jones was the first out of the gates with his intention to run announced earlier this year.
The group hopes to run eight candidates and five are ready to start campaigning. The other remaining council hopefuls will be announced in the coming weeks.
Goulet-Jones said on Tuesday that Red Deer First will make it easier for voters to choose a city councillor. He said it can be challenging to figure out what everyone stands for if there are 25 candidates on the ballot.
“This way it’s eight candidates with the same goals in mind and someone could look at our platform and say, ‘This person, this person, this person, this person’ is who I agree with,” said Goulet-Jones.
The group is promising fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability, safer streets, with more focus on the environment and economic development. The council hopefuls will share resources and lobby for one another on the campaign trail.
“The main thing we want to focus on is fiscal responsibility,” said Goulet-Jones. “The $258 million that we will be in debt for this year is way too much. We need to get our fiscal house in order.”
Ryan Handley, the man behind the anti-bike lane petition, is one of the Red Deer First organizers. Handley said he is unable to run because of work commitments and scheduling.
He said one fiscally responsible candidate running for city council is not enough and the only way to make change on council (comprised of eight councillors and a mayor) is to elect enough new candidates with similar conservative principles and philosophies.
Handley said they have consulted current councillors and other community members while devising the platform.
“Control is the wrong word,” said Goulet-Jones. “We’re trying to bring accountability back to council. We want to represent the citizens. We don’t want to control council. We want to go into council so citizens can again control council.”
Goulet-Jones stressed they are not a party but individuals who share the same message.
“There’s ideas that I have I would love to take to council but it’s not in the platform,” he said. “And that’s fine. I am really excited to be a part of it.”
Mayor Morris Flewwelling, who is not seeking re-election, said this type of voting movement has not even come close to happening before in Red Deer. Flewwelling called it an interesting and innovative approach that may get people talking more about municipal politics but he is not entirely sure it is a practical one.
“They don’t give the voter much credit for being analytic and discerning,” said Flewwelling.
He said there is lots of talk and lots of print before an election and there is an old saying in municipal politics, ‘The electors always get it right.’
“I don’t think running a slate is necessarily going to improve the odds,” Flewwelling said.
“It would be homogenous. You might as well have one councillor and one mayor. You don’t need eight so you could just get rid of the next seven if they are all saying and thinking the same thing. In other words if they are carbon copies of one another why would you elect eight? You only really need one.”
Flewwelling wondered in the lightning strike chance that all eight are elected, what business owner would dismiss all of its experienced employees and hire all new staff in one fell swoop.
“The community is not that easily swayed,” said Flewwelling. “It just don’t make sense. However it is unique and it will result in more discourse, maybe more interest and more voter turnout. I think it will be more heat than light.”
Also confirmed running for city council are third-term public school board trustee Lawrence Lee and student Matt Chapin. Four councillors, Paul Harris, Dianne Wyntjes, Lynne Mulder and Buck Buchanan, are seeking re-election. Councillors Tara Veer, Frank Wong and Chris Stephan have not confirmed their intentions. Coun. Cindy Jefferies and Chad Mason are running for mayor.
For more information on Red Deer First email firstname.lastname@example.org or later this week check the website www.reddeerfirst.ca