Newly elected Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr is settling into his new position and is looking forward to meeting with constituents.
“I’ve been able to hit the ground running and get a lot done in terms of connecting with people,” he said. “There are a lot of issues that come through the door.”
Orr adds that he is easing into the role and is feeling more comfortable each day.
“It’s been a learning curve and there are a lot of things to pick up,” he said. “Admittedly, in some ways it’s like drinking from the fire hose. It’s 24/7 and it’s tough to keep up with the stream of demand sometimes.”
Orr said that he finds a closely-related connection between serving the public as an MLA and serving in the ministerial sector.
“A lot of what I’m doing now are the same kinds of things I was doing then,” he said. “It’s about connecting with people and helping them with things that are important to them. It’s definitely about the need to be a self-starter.”
One of the first things Orr did after being elected was to set up his constituency office and hire his staff. “It feels like I had my office up and running ahead of a lot of them (MLAs), and that really helped me build connections and allowed me to build a very full calendar right from the start. I was able to pretty much hit the ground running.”
Orr’s constituency office is located in Lacombe, strategically placed in the middle of all the communities. It was also an already well established location, occupied by the previous Lacombe-Ponoka MLA.
Orr is eager to continue meeting with constituents and, by the fall, he hopes to set up mobile office sessions on Friday afternoons in Blackfalds, Ponoka and Alix. His ‘office’ will be set up at a conference room or restaurant in each community, allowing community members to meet with him on their own turf.
“Three Fridays of the month I’m going to rotate to those places,” he said. “I will be available to the three ends of my constituency and I would like people to know that I’m going to be there once a month. If they want to come talk to me, they can.”
Orr said since the election, he’s been meeting with community groups, stakeholder groups, business owners, municipal governments, agencies and volunteer groups to hear what their issues are in order to learn how to be more effective in government.
“It’s fascinatingly interesting and in a way it’s really broadened my horizons,” he said.
One of the issues brought forward by the constituency and something that he formally asked in the Legislature is the need for a registry office in Blackfalds. “Blackfalds Town council has been working on it for quite a while and hasn’t succeeded in getting permission to have one.”
Although there are rules and guidelines in place in regards to registry office location, Orr said in this case there are extenuating circumstances, as Blackfalds is a completely independent community and has a true need for the service.
“There’s 8,000 people there (in Blackfalds),” he said. “Why should they have to drive all the way to another city to get registry services which are legally required?”
Orr has not received a formal response yet, as the issue is still in front of the government, but he hopes the minister will review the situation and rules. Until the government begins its fall sitting, he will be out in the community, listening to concerns and seeing the issues within the vast Lacombe-Ponoka constituency.
“I am available. I do want to try and help with whatever issues are out there. I do want to keep an open door policy for people.”