Country music and social media are among the tools that candidates are bringing to the fight to become the first mayor elected to the City of Lacombe.
Former town councillors Bill McQuesten, 59, and Steve Christie, 44, have squared off for the chair left open with Mayor Judy Gordon’s decision to leave politics effective Monday, Oct. 18, when all Albertans are to select their new municipal councils.
Both men see overcoming voter apathy as a key challenge and are looking for ways to get more people involved.
Incorporated as a city earlier this month, Lacombe’s voter turnout was on par with the provincial average in 2007 of roughly 25 per cent.
McQuesten said he hopes that issues arising with Lacombe’s upgraded municipal status will bring more people to the polls. Edged out of the mayor’s chair by Judy Gordon in 2004 and returned as a councillor in 2007, McQuesten believes Lacombe’s town council did too much of its business behind closed doors and that its new city council needs to be much more open to public scrutiny.
Councillors should debate issues in open meetings, where they can be witnessed and reported by local media so Lacombe citizens can get a closer look at what’s going on and to encourage them to become more involved, said McQuesten.
During his campaign kickoff party on Sunday, including entertainment by local country star Gord Bamford’s backup band, Christie said good communication between council and citizens is vital in keeping people involved and maintaining public interest in local issues.
“As a council we must be accessible and willing to listen. I truly believe that the most effective communication tool is listening,” Christie told supporters during the launch.
“We also have to expand or find new facets of communication that will reach our younger generations.”
Elsewhere within Lacombe County boundaries, Eckville Mayor Helen Posti has been returned by acclamation while her county counterpart, Reeve Terry Engen, has decided not to run again.
While Posti holds onto her seat for yet another term, she’s going to have at least five and maybe six new faces on council. With seven people running for six seats, John Walker will be the only incumbent on the ballot.
The Town of Bentley has also acclaimed its mayor, incumbent Joan Dickau, while five candidates vie for four spots on council.
In the Town of Blackfalds, incumbent Mayor Melodie Stol faces a challenge from former Mayor Wayne Tutty. The rest of council has been acclaimed.
The Village of Clive has six candidates, including three incumbents, running for five spots. Clive’s council chooses its mayor from among its ranks during its organizational meeting, held after the election.
Lacombe County will have elections in six of its seven divisions, with incumbent Keith Stephenson returned by acclamation in Division 6.
Nominations remain open until noon today in Alix, which did not receive enough nominations to fill its council on Monday.