Yours Truly, left, showing a patron the new automatic checkout machine at the St. Albert Public Library, one of the facilities in our community that’s worth making an effort to protect. The library is located in St. Albert Place, at 5 St. Anne St.
A good friend of mine asked me in an email yesterday why I didn’t attend the St. Albert Taxpayers Association’s council candidates’ meeting on Tuesday night.
Here was my answer, lightly edited for brevity and to protect my friend’s privacy:
“I promised myself I’d tell the truth and nothing but the truth during this campaign, so I’ll tell it to you: I decided not to go because I think very few of the SATA group are inclined to vote for me anyway. I have read what some of them have said about union members and library board members. I suspect most members of that group are inclined to think the same way, and won’t have their minds changed no matter what I say. So I rolled the dice and spent my time door-knocking until darkness fell, and then went to karate for a workout and a missionary effort persuading my dojo-mates to take signs home for their lawns. I don’t know if that was the right decision, but it was the one I made in a considered way.”
I don’t really know if I need to say anything more than that, but of course, being a blogger by temperament and habit, I will…
I have a great deal of respect for many members of SATA and count a number of them among my friends. But I simply do not agree with them and at least one of the candidates they support that such municipal services as public transit, recreational and cultural services, not to mention our wonderful public library, are “non-essentials.” Nor are those services and facilities merely the enthusiasms of “special interests,” as other SATA supporters have suggested.
On the contrary, these are among the things that make our community the desirable and livable place that it is.
As I have said repeatedly in my campaign materials, I believe St. Albert needs to preserve the quality public services for which it is known while continuing to keep municipal costs under control. Good work has been done in this area in the past and that effort needs to continue as a priority in the future.
So let’s be very clear, if you vote for me, you are voting for a candidate that believes in, values and will fight to defend public transit, recreational, cultural and library services, winter and summer road maintenance, trees and parks. All of these services can be defended while being responsible with taxpayers’ dollars.
Among our fellow citizens are naturally people who take a different view. Some of them are among the very small group that attended SATA’s meeting Tuesday. This is their right and entirely proper in a democracy. A very few of them go too far in their criticism, however.
If like me you speak up for the importance of public libraries, you can expect to be pilloried on certain local websites – as happened to me when as a member of the St. Albert Public Library Board I defended a survey conducted by the library to determine the services most valued by library patrons.
The same website was quite critical yesterday of the significant group of city council candidates who did not show up at SATA’s meeting – so be it, that’s fair ball in municipal politics, where all issues are local.
Now St. Albertans know why I wasn’t there. I wouldn’t be so bold as to speak for others.
But opposition to public services goes too far when it is expressed in crude commentary like the anonymous blog site employing bathroom attacks on current council members (now deleted by its authors) or the anonymous letter sent to retiring Councillor Roger Lemieux that was published yesterday on Mayor Nolan Crouse’s blog.
The vision of St. Albert set out in that letter is certainly not the one I share.
I believe there is a bigger world out there – and that St. Albert needs to be a part of it. That’s why I’m running for city council.