It’s official: Red Deer historian, author and community booster Michael Dawe is running for a seat on Red Deer city council.
The 61-year-old city archivist, who just announced his retirement on Wednesday, is hoping that as one chapter in his life closes, another will soon open.
After 38 years in the job, Dawe felt it was time to retire and take on a bigger role in community service.
“I have a strong interest in the community and I want to make a positive difference,” added the fifth-generation Red Deerian, who’s planning to start an intense door-to-door campaign before the Oct. 16 municipal election.
Dawe has a thorough knowledge of Red Deer, having written two books on the city. He also has experience on numerous local boards — including the former Red Deer Regional Hospital Board, Regional Waste Water Commission and as former deputy-mayor of the Summer Village of Norglenwald.
But he stressed he’s taking nothing for granted on the election trail: “We’ll have to see what happens… but I’ve always felt that if you’re going to make some place your home, you contribute to it.”
Red Deer is a great community to live in, he said, yet has some “unsettling issues” — such as crime, which threatens the public’s sense of safety.
Many city residents are also concerned about rising municipal taxes and fees at a time when numerous local families are struggling with job loss, said Dawe, who believes a firmer line needs to be drawn between ‘needs’ and ‘wants.’
“This harder economic time has been going on for quite a while. We can’t continue to spend money we don’t have.”
The former provincial Liberal candidate believes sound fiscal management is not a matter of ideology, but common sense.
Dawe also favours fostering better communications between the city and its citizens — both by responding to all constituents’ concerns, and by placing pertinent public information online for feedback. For example, he questions why the Red Deer budget isn’t on the city’s website, instead of only being available in paper form in the public library?
If more eyes were on the document, more good ideas could be suggested on how the budget can be balanced, he added.
Dawe’s parents were both community-oriented school teachers (his father is the namesake of G.H. Dawe School). Dawe recalled that, “besides correcting my grammar constantly,” his mom and dad also instilled in him a sense of giving back to the community through their involvement on library and arts boards.
Dawe has received many honours over the years for his community contributions, including Citizen of the Year awards from the City of Red Deer and the provincial school administration council, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Alberta Centennial Medal, and federal commendation for his work with veterans.