Incumbent Lacombe County Councillor Keith Stephenson is in the running for this year’s municipal election.
Voters head to the polls on Oct. 16th.
“I had just retired from farming, and I was always involved in the community,” he said. “I was looking for something to do in my retirement, and it happened to be an election year so I ran - and I won,” he added with a chuckle, noting that his new post brought along new challenges and opportunities to learn.
“There was a great learning curve and I’ve really enjoyed the last 10 years,” he said.
“I like the atmosphere of Lacombe County - the staff and administration are great people - I just like going into that building; it’s also very, very well run. And I like the ratepayers,” he said, noting that he’s enjoyed excellent and respectful relationships across the board with constituents.
As to current issues affecting Lacombe County, Stephenson pointed to property crime as being a continuing issue.
“We are trying to mitigate this by giving rural crime associations lots of support,” he said. “The County has also trained a police officer to help give residents some support on how to protect their property,” he said, adding that additional staff has been hired to help with bolstered investigative support concerning such crimes.
“We are trying to mitigate it - and it’s not just Lacombe County; it’s the surrounding areas as well,” he said. “Property crime is a big issue right now.”
Environmental issues are also at the top of the list, as is the Blackfalds Stormwater issue right now. “I’m sure it will take some time, but it will be resolved.”
Ag plastic recycling is also an issue. “Right now, they are being disposed of and taken to our landfills - they are very bulky - so we will be in pursuit of that, and hopefully in the next four years we will have it resolved,” he said.
Also, community sustainability is a key priority as well, he said. “It’s always been an issue, but I think with the new (collaborative framework) that it will help.” This relates to the province’s plan to have municipalities map out means of better connecting and cooperating with all neighbouring municipalities in an array of ways.
“One thing we just got done was the west servicing area between the City of Lacombe and the County of Lacombe - to put water and wastewater to the west side of the (QEII Hwy). It’s a great opportunity for us to increase our commercial and industrial base.”
Of course, infrastructure needs are always surfacing as well, such as keeping roads in good shape.
“We try to keep things to as high a level of maintenance as possible,” he said.
As to the coming weeks prior to the election, Stephenson is looking forward to meeting with constituents all the more to learn what’s on their minds. “I have a ratepayers’ meeting once a year every year in April, and I’ve been having these since I was elected,” he said.
“I also engage with people just by being out in public, attending public events.
“I will also be going door to door,” he said. If he was asked by a relative newcomer to the County why he’s a suitable candidate for re-election, Stephenson said a key attribute he has is being able to look at both sides of an issue.and not over-reacting to either.
Ultimately, it’s that sense of accomplishment that he has known during his years on council that has been part of what keeps him eager to serve.
“We have over the long term done the right things for Lacombe County to help make it a better place,” he said. “I also try to look down the line - not just five, 10 or 15 years or 20 years - I like to also have the long-term (in view).
“In going forward, I would just want to keep up the good governance for Lacombe County and being financially responsible - good budgeting for the fiscal year and for future years,” he said. “Keeping our County reserves fully funded - I think that is very important, and keeping our high level of service up.”
That commitment is reflected in the establishment of two remote County shops, too. “It’s also about keeping up a good working relationship with our surrounding municipalities.”