Yours Truly visiting the Texas House of Representatives in the State Capitol building in Austin, Texas – and thinking about what to say to Ryan Hastman on EdmontionPolitics.com. Below: The author with LBJ, sort of, and looking particularly fierce for the benefit of our Texan hosts.
Last week, just as my daughter Lily and I were about to return from the Uechi-Ryu Kenyukai Koshukai – and international karate event in Austin, Texas, where I also had the opportunity to visit the Texas State Capitol and the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum – I was asked by bloggers Dave Cournoyer of Daveberta.ca and Ryan Hastman of RyanHastman.com to answer some questions on why I’m running for St. Albert city council.
They’re asking similar questions of municipal candidates from throughout the Capital Region on their EdmontonPolitics.com website. Here are the things they asked me – and the answers I provided:
1) What are 3 criticisms of current council, and 3 things to praise?
Councillors don’t all share the same opinion, they don’t vote the same way on every issue, and so I’m reluctant to criticize them or praise them as a group. I would say that a healthy and responsive city council should include a diversity of voices that speak for business, the arts, recreation, the environment, commuters and families in our community – not just one or two of those – and that individual councillors should take the time to understand other points of view even if they disagree. I had enormous respect for Councillor Carol Watamaniuk, who sat on the previous council, and her ability to combine sensitivity to fiscal responsibility with advocacy for the community’s cultural and recreational needs. She provided a good model of how a diversity of interests benefits a city council.
2) What would be your top 3 policy focus items as councillor?
Three of my top priorities would be:
- Ensuring St. Albert’s growth is well managed and sustainable
- Managing the municipal budget carefully and frugally
- Making operational decisions that are environmentally responsible
3) You have been an observer and backroom participant in the political process for some time. Why the switch to running yourself, why now, and what do you bring to the table?
I’ve certainly been an enthusiastic observer of Alberta politics at all levels of government for many years, and it’s been a great pleasure to write a political blog for the past five years that has attracted a broad following of readers. I wrote my Master’s Degree thesis on regional planning in Alberta – a topic that today is of great importance to St. Albertans. Naturally, I would like the opportunity to put some of my ideas into practice. Because I have been anxious to play a role in my community and the institutions in it that I care about, I have volunteered for the past five years as a Library Board member and now chair, and as chair of the committee that organized the 2009 Special Olympic Summer Games in St. Albert. So I see the process of moving from commentary, to volunteering, to serving on council as a very natural development. Ultimately, the reason I’m running for council is the same as why I’ve been involved in commentary, charity and volunteer community boards – because St. Albert is important to my family, and I want it to continue to be a livable, prosperous, dynamic and engaging community.
4) What is something that voters might not know about you?
I can knock off an Elizabethan sonnet in Iambic pentameter on any topic in less than an hour – though maybe not a very good one. I have seen John Diefenbaker in the flesh and heard Pierre Trudeau speak before he was prime minister. There is a rather large orbiting hunk of rock officially named Climenhaga – Asteroid No. 3034, named in honour of my late father, John Climenhaga, an astronomer. To research a newspaper article on winter vegetables, I once followed a load of lettuce aboard a reefer truck from a baking-hot field near Yuma, Az., to a grocery store shelf in snowy Calgary, interviewing migrant field workers and millionaire business executives, truckers and technicians, government officials and checkout clerks along the way, gaining their confidence and writing an entertaining and widely read front-page story on that unlikely topic within hours of the end of the trip.