"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” - Henry Ford
This section consists of questions that I have been asked repeatedly by community residents or that all candidates have been asked on the “Airdrie Election 2017 - Discussion Group”.
What do you want Airdrie to be when it grows up? Do you have an ideal population size? If we've surpassed it, what now? If we still have a ways to go, how do we get there responsibly and sustainably?
I want Airdrie to be a vibrant and inclusive city for people of all ages and stages. I believe our community’s growth must be built on a foundation of community collaboration, inclusion and engagement. As municipal council, we are elected to represent the people in our community; we commit to representing their interests and to making decisions about services and facilities that will help build a good quality of life for all of our residents.
I do not have an ideal population size in mind for Airdrie.
Sustainable growth has many nuances, but in general, a sustainable community works to meet the social and economic needs of its residents while preserving the environment’s ability to support it (http://www.sfu.ca/sustainabledevelopment/about-us/what-is-sustainable-community-development.html). We grow responsibly and sustainably by being strategic in our planning – what are the community priorities (identified by the community), how can we fund these, what can the environment sustain? Most importantly we need to move forward on our plans.
On March 5, 2012 Airdrie City Council adopted the AirdrieOne Sustainability plan (https://www.airdrie.ca/index.cfm?serviceID=25), this plan, although dated, is well-thought out and includes strategies to achieve long-term sustainability. The challenge for Council – both current and incoming – is to act on the principles found in the AirdrieONE sustainability plan (see below), to consider and move forward on the strategies laid out in the plan, and to evaluate the progress in achieving those plans.
Council adopted the following principles to guide the direction and development of AirdrieONE.
- Well managed growth
- Whole communities
- Fiscal balance
- Environmental stewardship and sustainability
- Inter-municipal cooperation
- Walk-able neighbourhoods
- Distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of people and place
- Variety of transportation choices.
I believe these are still excellent principles to guide sustainability planning in Airdrie.
What have you done in the past five years to build a stronger Airdrie?
In the past 5 years, I have built a stronger Airdrie by shopping locally as much as possible, attending and financially supporting fundraisers hosted by the Airdrie Food Bank, Community Links, the Health Foundation, the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce, Airdrie Rotary Club, Airdrie Public Library, Creative Airdrie and more. In addition, I have volunteered for Airdrie Food Bank, Community Links, Cooper’s Crossing Resident’s Association, The Hamlets at Cedarwood Station, 4-H, Airdrie Summer Games, Prairie Mountain Health Advisory Committee, Airdrie & Area Health Service Planning Working Group, Airdrie Community Health Centre 24/7 Service Expansion Urgent Care Task Group, and the Airdrie Business Awards Committee. Many of these volunteer tasks have been in leadership positions. In addition, in the past 5 years I have worked with the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce to promote, represent and enhance the interests of Airdrie’s business community, and the Airdrie Angel Program, where we help people who are going through a difficult time through no fault of their own. Last, I have entered into municipal politics as I want to build a stronger Airdrie for all.
Why are you running for Mayor and not for Council first?
- Much of the reason why I am running for Mayor is because I believe Airdrie needs a new leader. A Mayor must lead the community and City Council in outlining a future vision and setting priorities to reach that vision. In order to accomplish this, a Mayor must be able to build trust, develop collaborative relationships, and create a positive culture for all levels of municipal administration. I have heard, observed and read about our current City Council reversing direction on several important decisions and criticizing city staff publicly – these to me do not indicate strong leadership. I understand that Council will, on many occasions, be faced with difficult decisions, however as Mayor I would ensure that these decisions were fully debated, the public view was heard, and the majority decided the result. In this way, there is no need for Council to second guess its decisions.
- An effective Mayor must be able to run an effective and efficient meeting and to build a team of Councillors who are respectful, courteous, feel free to share their ideas and perspectives, and who are able to reach a consensus. It is important for every member of Council to be heard, but it is equally important that comments are on topic and succinct. If I were Mayor and a member of Council was ‘rambling’, I would draw that person back onto topic related to the issue being debated.
- A Mayor has one vote – just as every member of City Council does. However, the Mayor represents the community and advocates for it regionally and with all levels of government. A community must be confident that their Mayor will conduct themselves with decorum and professionalism. If I were Mayor I would conduct myself professionally and build strong relationships within the region and amongst the various levels of government.
What made you decide to run for Mayor?
- I was concerned by what I was hearing and observing – the decisions and behavior that I found questionable for a municipal council. I believe that decisions need to be based on best practises and be practised consistently for all organizations/groups. I have a deep belief that everyone should be treated the same – no one is better than the other – and no group or individual’s ideas should hold more weight than another group or individual’s ideas.
- I believe that Council must emphasize its fiduciary responsibility to the citizens – to involve them, to provide them with the best possible mandated services (fire, water, sewer, recreation, culture), to spend their money wisely, to be honest and trustworthy.
- I believe it’s important that rather than whining and complaining, we must be the change we want to see in the world.
- My desire to make Airdrie the best it can be by including citizens of Airdrie in decisions that affect their life. For example, we need to ask our citizens:
- How do you want to spend our money?
- What kind of community do you want to live in?
- Are we an exceptional community for all ages and stages to live in? Why not? Shouldn’t we be?
- To create a City that has a vision for the future and an identity. What makes Airdrie unique? What do we want Airdrie to become? What do you value most about Airdrie? What can we focus our efforts on that will ensure our community is a place where people want to live now and in the future?
What is your stance on Downtown redevelopment?
- I want to create a downtown that is the civic and cultural centre of Airdrie; a community gathering place filled with interesting venues and opportunities. How exactly that looks is up to the residents of Airdrie. I can easily promise to build a new senior’s centre, a new youth community and recreation centre, a public library, a high end concert hall and cultural centre, as examples, but….. the thing is….it’s up to the residents of Airdrie whose money we are spending, whose community we are building. We need to ask them what their priorities are, and then we need to PLAN IT, and then MAKE IT HAPPEN.
- There are many City of Airdrie planning documents that outline the plan for our downtown, and yet we do not seem to move forward with accomplishing these plans. Council has failed to take action in moving forward with downtown development. I would like to move forward to complete the goals set out in the City’s ongoing planning documents to create a downtown that is a place of pride for our community, a place where people want to gather and bring visitors.
Do you have any provincial or federal affiliations?
No I do not. When I was a young child I was involved in some federal political activities – I accompanied my friend to the Liberal headquarters and we performed simple administrative tasks. A few years ago I was approached to affiliate with the Conservative party on a provincial level, I declined. I really do not aspire to any level of Provincial or Federal politics. I tend to vote more for a person, rather than a party. Municipal politics makes sense for me, as it is the government closest to the people. We need to speak to the people to be an effective municipal government.
Do you think the City Manager should be fired?
The City Manager’s job is to provide leadership and direction to all City departments. The Alberta Municipal Government Act defines the City Manager’s position:
- To be the head of administration
- To ensure Council’s policies and programs are implemented
- To advise and inform Council on the operation and affairs of the municipality
- To perform the duties and function and exercise the powers assigned to a chief administrative officer by Council.
I can’t speak to how well the City Manager has performed his duties as outlined above. I don’t know what the results of his annual performance evaluation are, or what his goals were for the year or past years. However, I do know that the current Council has been his boss for the past 3+ years. Some members of Council have been his boss for 15 years and the current City Manager still has a job. That leads me to believe he is doing a good job, or his performance evaluations are lacking.
I believe it is an incoming Council’s responsibility to 1) develop a community driven vision for the community, 2) develop a strategic plan for the community, 3) manage the City Manager – this must be systematic – what are the goals he is to achieve and how will his performance be evaluated.
If there is a sound basis for relieving the City Manager of his duties, then policies and proper processes must be adhered to in reaching this end.
Council should never blame City staff for the decisions which Council is responsible for. City Council should never publicly denounce the City Manager or City staff. City Council and City Administration (staff) must work effectively as a team in order to manage the City well. Blaming or denouncing staff is not a good way to build a strong team.
What’s your educational background?
I have a Bachelor of Recreation Studies degree from the University of Manitoba. I also have a diploma in Recreation Therapy from Mount Royal College.
What’s your experience with budgets?
I have considerable experience in reviewing financial reports and managing budgets. For example, in 2015, the Airdrie Food Bank’s total assets were valued at over 1.8 million dollars, with an operating budget of just under $500,000.
The Food Services budget for the Airdrie 2014 Alberta Summer Games was $398 K with an additional $87 K in donations that my team secured.
The Highland Primary Care Network’s operating budget is well over 4 million dollars.
I realize these are not in the realm of the $130 M 2017 City’s operating budget, but the principles are the same. Moreover, it is not City Council’s job to manage that budget – that’s City staff’s job.
What kind of leadership experience do you have?
I have strong leadership skills. I spent 8 years on the Board of the Airdrie Food Bank, ending my term as President in 2015. I was involved in developing the strategic plan that resulted in the building of the current Food Bank – the only purpose built food bank in all of Canada. I was involved in the strategic plan that resulted in the building of the Food Bank’s community kitchen – this was created to broaden the scope of the Food Bank’s programs from emergency relief to building and strengthening the skills and abilities of individuals, while adding a revenue source to the Food Bank.
I was a member of the Board of Directors for the Airdrie 2014 Alberta Summer Games for which I was Food Services Director. In this role, I managed a team of 6 Directors, and together we were responsible for feeding over 3,000 people 3 meals/day for 3 days – and we did this in an arena – not an easy feat.
I currently volunteer on the Board of Directors for the Highland Primary Care Network, which works with 72 doctors and 24 health team members in the region.
I am also involved in the Cooper’s Crossing Residents’ Association where I serve as the Vice-President.
My role in all of these organizations has included strategic planning and financial oversight.
I have led teams. I have led teams through my volunteer work with the Airdrie Festival of Lights, where I managed a team of 6 Volunteer Managers. I have managed hundreds of volunteers through my paid work with the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce, the City of Airdrie and the Canadian Diabetes Association, and through my volunteer work with such organizations as Bethany Airdrie and Airdrie Nursery to name a few. In these roles, I developed relationships with a wide variety of individuals and together we worked to achieve goals and objectives.
Do you work?
I worked at the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce from 2010 – 2016. It’s important that Chamber of Commerce staff remain nonpartisan, so I gave my notice the day before I wrote a letter to City Council expressing my concern with one of their decisions.
I have worked with the Airdrie Angel Program since 2014, and I continue to manage this program.
I also continue to be extensively involved in volunteering in our community.