Newcomers to city council will fill as few as three and as many as all of the nine seats available in council chambers as a result of the Oct. 24 election.
Bringing with them fresh minds and new perspectives, newcomers to council chambers face off against the better-known and experienced incumbents. It’s a mixed bag that various candidates spoke to this week.
“I’m very, very pleased with the number of candidates we have running. I think it stimulates interest and it stimulates participation, particularly at the voters’ level,” mayoral candidate Jim Scarrow said.
Running as incumbent, Scarrow said that he’s able to share realistic expectations with the public as to his filling the mayor’s seat, because it’ll be more of the same.
“I don’t fire up all engines a month before the election. I’ve been heavy-duty for six years, now,” he said.
Running as incumbent “can also be a burden if you haven’t done it well,” he clarified. “I think I’ve done a good job. Have I done a great job? I don’t think so.”
Ward 5 incumbent Cheryl Ring said that her time as city councillor is a definite benefit to her run for re-election.
“Two years into my last term, I was finally feeling like I had enough knowledge of the work I was doing and the processes, that I felt more on top of the learning curve,” she said.
“Two years isn’t even an exaggeration. It took that amount of time to feel I was being efficient in my space.”
Ring said that her voting record will also be of benefit in her chances of re-election, due to what she feels was voting with integrity.
Council’s reputation as a whole has its negative points, which Ring distances herself from.
When it comes to Prince Albert Arts Board finances, she’s quick to say that she voted in favour of the becoming public.
“Every taxpayer puts into that centre,” she said of her underlying motivation for the public to see the organization’s financials.
Ward 6 Coun. Martin Ring said that his reputation as an elected official intent on attracting development is to his benefit — something he hopes to continue in a third term.
“We need to expand our economy, and it needs to be more than retail,” he said.
During his time on council, Ring said that he hopes he’s earned a reputation as someone who answers the public’s inquiries, not only in his own ward but city-wide.
As past mayor of Prince Albert, Don Cody switched gears this time around in his bid for the Ward 4 city council seat.
The mayor’s seat takes more public scrutiny and hard work than councillors’, Cody said, inspiring his switch in aspiration.
“I still wanted to help,” he explained, noting that he’s also come into enough free time to properly fulfil the role.
His experience as mayor is helping, both in his campaign and in his potential future position as councillor, he said.
“You’ve got the experience, (and) you know your way around,” he said, noting that there are many rules and regulations that come with civic politics.
“Generally speaking, it’s always the same — infrastructure, transparency, finances, the bridge and the like.”
Another sort-of incumbent is mayoral candidate Greg Dionne, who currently serves the city as Ward 2 councillor.
“The only thing that will actually change about the way I do business is the chair, because we all take our turns running the meeting, as deputy chair, so we already know it,” he said.
“The difference, though is when you run in a ward you run for the issues in that ward, not city-wide.”
I’m very, very pleased with the number of candidates we have running. I think it stimulates interest and it stimulates participation, particularly at the voters’ level. - Mayoral incumbent hopeful Jim Scarrow
Nine years on city council are of great benefit, he said, because he’s learned the rules as stipulated in The Cities Act.
“I believe that if you’re going to play the game, you’ve got to know the rules.”
Like all council hopefuls new to municipal politics, Ward 4 candidate Darwin Zurakowski plans on bringing something new to council.
“It’s one thing that this election is unique for — having so many people new to council, and bringing new voices,” he said. “It’s definitely a positive thing.”
Although this is his first time running for a city council position, he’s lived in Ward 4 for four years, building an adequate knowledge of the issues at hand, he said.
“There’s so much untapped potential in P.A. that if it’s handled properly things will go very well,” he said.
Ward 2 candidate Rick Orr said that he looks forward to a potential turnover of much of council.
“It allows you to bring a new view and bring forward things they may not have considered,” he said of newcomers to council.
It’s a good time to turn things around, he added, citing many areas as requiring improvement.
“It’s my feeling that the public (have) got a feeling that council has been doing a lot of things behind closed doors,” he said.
The fence leading up Second Avenue West is a point of contention, with its council-approved $170,000 replacement currently taking place.
“Most people think a can of spray paint would work,” he said of what he sees as fiscal irresponsibility.
“We all make mistakes … and you can only get re-elected if people think you’ve been accreditable to them,” he said. “As an outsider looking in … it would seem that there hasn’t been full disclosure of budgets.”
The public hasn’t been kept up to date as it should, Ward 2 candidate Chad Mogg said.
“There’s a lot of times there’s not enough information and people don’t know what’s going on,” he said, noting that improvements should be made to the city’s website so administration reports and councillor decisions are easier to find.
Running as a newcomer comes with its challenges, Ward 6 candidate Jay Yeo said.
“You’re under the gun … because you’re not as well-known as the incumbents,” he said.
On the flip side, should a newcomer get in, with fresh and innovative ideas, the hard work can pay off for the community, he added.
“The new guy always works harder than the old guy,” he said.
His second time running in Ward 1, Jim Tsannie Sr. said that he anticipates a closer race than last time around, during which time four candidates were competing for the seat, which ultimately went to Charlene Miller.
This time around, Tsannie Sr.’s only opponent is the incumbent.
“The advantage (to my running) is that people have another choice,” he said, adding that it’s a shame when candidates are acclaimed.
Reiterating the concern that many other candidates have put forth, Tsannie Sr. said that he’d like to ensure the public be kept up to date as to council happenings.
A disadvantage during Tsannie Sr.’s campaign is the fact that, as incumbent, Miller is better known — a factor compounded by Tsannie Sr.’s mobility issues, which limits the number of doors he can knock on.
“I’m sorry if I don’t get to them,” he said. “But, I’m pushing and getting out there.”