Questions provided by Nolan Crouse (edited by T8N)
T8N: If you were to change one thing specific to the City of St. Albert itself, what would that be? And if you were to change one thing within the community itself, what would that be?
HR: Minimize tax increases by shifting our tax burden away from a residential to a more commercial/industrial base as has been the trend over the last six years. We need to market our city, invite new types of business and to make it accessible for those who want to live and work here and make it possible to move forward with our Capital Project vision for St. Albert.
In terms of one community specific change we need to become a more accessible community through changes in how transit service is delivered to ensure access to seniors and our young residents. This moves us closer to the idea of making St. Albert “The livable four seasons community”
T8N: What will be the first item that you plan to bring forward for council debate immediately after the election?
HR: A motion to provide public with enforcement data that includes Date/Time, Speed, and Location of each photo radar ticket, and to have this data updated at frequent intervals. We need data on how photo radar is being used, how or if it’s improving safety and what needs to happen in the long term.
T8N: What governance or policy change that council operates under today needs to be changed immediately?
HR: I would vote to push forward a policy that prevents active City Council members from voicing their disagreements or opinions of other Council members/city staff on social media. The amount of mud slinging on social media has been unnecessary and disappointing. There have to be better ways of expressing our opinions without viciously attacking others. I would hope that the introduction of an integrity commissioner will help make this process easier.
Questions provided by David Climenhaga (edited by T8N)
T8N: Never mind the question of a branch library or the location of services. What is your view of the long-term viability of library services in our community? Are you prepared to continue funding library services at a level that permits continuation of present levels of service while accounting for increases in population?
HR: Library services should be considered according to demand. The internet has changed the way that we consume and use information. We need to make sure that Libraries are delivering services that our citizens want and in the way that they want them. We need to look for and implement creative solutions to solve the issues that the proposed facility is intended to address.
T8N: Alberta law requires a legal separation between city councillors and city employees: Employees report to the city manager; the city manager reports to council. What is your view of the proper working relationship between front-line employees and city councillors?
HR: City councillors need to deal with the city manager and refrain from comments and illegal interaction with city staff. These interactions tend to be used for political purposes and that’s simply unethical. Furthermore, when councillors inappropriately interact with city staff they run the risk of demoralizing them thus leading to increased costs as demoralized staff are less effective.
T8N: What can and should be done to ensure the continued viability of St. Albert’s downtown Perron Street District?
HR: Architectural guidelines are a must. We have a mish mash of styles in the Perron St. district right now. Going forward we need to set a theme and stick with it. Perron St. represents a unique opportunity to create a city center that reflects St. Albert’s very special history and also be a place that residents can enjoy and be proud of into the future. The Perron St. district really is a jewel in our crown and has huge potential.
T8N: Never mind the sequencing of traffic lights on St. Albert Trail. Where do you stand on the calls by some residents for a 40 kilometre-per-hour speed limit in residential neighbourhoods?
HR: I think there may be merit in discouraging through traffic in residential areas by setting speed limits on arterial roads to 60 km/h and setting the speed limit within residential areas to 40 km/h. This combined with properly synchronizing traffic lights will encourage drivers to stick to the main roads instead of dangerously cutting through neighborhoods.
T8N: There are many savings and benefits that could be realized by being part of a regional transit system. Are you prepared to work toward the participation or inclusion of St. Albert Transit in a regional transit system?
HR: I would like to see the benefits and savings of such a move as well as the potential pitfalls. The issue of cost and willing citizen participation are important.
T8N: What is your position on the extension of a regionally financed LRT system from downtown Edmonton to St. Albert?
HR: I would like to see a study on the need and demand for this. Our needs are not the same as the city of Edmonton’s. I’m also wary of partnerships that could make us the target of annexation.
T8N: There are many savings and benefits that could be realized by being part of a regional policing system. Are you prepared to work toward the creation of a Capital Region Police Force in which St. Albert would participate?
HR: I would have to be convinced of the savings and benefits of such a move. Again, when we enter marriages with Edmonton we might become an easier annexation target. Also, the RCMP do a fine job here. I would like to hear what our citizens think.
T8N: As St. Albert grows, it is coming under pressure for increased recreation facilities, including additional ice sheets and swimming pools. Would you as councillor be prepared to work to create joint public projects for the development of recreational facilities involving any or all of the County of Parkland, Town of Morinville, County of Sturgeon and City of Edmonton?
HR: Edmonton is really the only city with enough people that are also close enough to use this type of facility. again, these marriage issues crop up. They can all be used for Annexation rationalization. I would have to see studies and talk to St. Albert residents. I would rather explore partnering with nonprofit organizations to help facilitate solutions that will provide the services the residents of St. Albert need.
T8N: St. Albert citizens complain constantly about the cost of operating a city the size of St. Albert, including the costs of duplication of services and the heavy reliance of the municipal tax base on residential properties instead of businesses. If substantial tax savings for residents could be shown, are there circumstances in which you would agree to or support amalgamation of St. Albert with the city of Edmonton?
HR: I have not seen “ instant complaining” from St. Albert citizens. I chose to live here and it costs a bit more than Edmonton but the pleasure of living here makes up for the little increase in cost.
Amalgamation? That means annexation and that means that the city runs us as a branch office. NO. Not ever. One of the nicest things about St. Albert is that we have a clear and separate identity. There have been many examples of annexation in other regions across the country that have resulted in significant disadvantages to the smaller municipalities. This is not something I wish to see happen to St. Albert.
T8N: Parking at St. Albert Place and in the downtown district continues to be a problem for the city. What is your preferred solution to this situation: Leave it alone? Build a parkade? Paid street parking? Other?
T8N: What is your vision for St. Albert’s role in the Capital Regional District?
HR: I see St. Albert as setting an example in what a city can do with its small population, creating healthy thriving environments for both business and families alike while trialing new ways of doing things while carefully and respectfully preserving the legacy that has made St. Albert the great place to live that it is today.. We’re going to be in the spotlight for how we integrate our SMART initiatives to make life easier for our residents and businesses alike.
Questions provided by Tim Osborne (edited by T8N)
T8N: What do you believe is the role of a councilor?
HR: First and foremost, the role of a councilor is to carry out the wishes of the citizens that they represent and to be able to work closely with other city officials to carry out that mandate. Secondly, a councillor needs to use the resources available to them to inform constituents of the issues at hand. I need to add that respect and courtesy in chambers is also an important part of a councillor’s role.
T8N: How would you address the balance between doing what may be in the best interest of the community despite the act being unpopular?
HR: I want to do what the citizens think is best. If I truly represent them I will represent what they want. On the abortion issue, Preston Manning voted against his wishes and instead voted for what his constituents clearly desired. I am running because I don’t want a few people at city hall shoving their “We know best” ideas down citizens throats. People are sick of this kind of government.
T8N: Is there a role for third party or anonymous advertising / communication in municipal elections? Explain.
HR: No there is not. We all know that these “third party” advertisers can simply be cronies of one or another candidate. It amounts to undeclared advertising money.
T8N: What is your vision for increasing the housing options in our community?
HR: I would have to have specific options presented to give a detailed answer however I do think that seniors housing is a looming issue.
T8N Magazine Questions
T8N: What would be your reasons for / against switching to a ward system in St.Albert?
HR: We are not large enough for a ward system to do anything but add cost and complexity to local government.
T8N: Are there any actions / directives / projects undertaken by the previous council that you would like to stop / undo / dramatically change? Why?
HR: NO ANSWER
To read the other candidate’s responses, click below.
Sandyne Beach-McCutcheon http://www.t8nmagazine.com/sandyne-survey/
Nester Andrew Petriw http://www.t8nmagazine.com/nester-questionnaire/