Two running in Longview byelection

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Longview residents are heading back to the polls next month to fill a vacancy on council.

Walter Fox and Len Kirk are running in a Dec. 11 byelection after Carole MacLeod, one of Longview’s three councillors elected on Oct. 16, resigned three days after being sworn into office.

Voting will take place Dec. 11 between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the Longview Community Hall. An advanced poll will be held in the hall on Nov. 25 between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fox, who ran in the Oct. 16 election and lost out by a handful of votes, said he is ready to embark on the campaign trail once again.

“I will do a campaign and talk to people and go door to door and see what the reaction is,” he said. “The few people I’ve talked to said, ‘I’m still going to vote for you.’ We’ll go with that and see where it goes.”

The Longview resident of one year said his platform focuses on increasing the village’s visibility to attract more residents and businesses.

“We’ve got to find some way to make it visible and get people interested in moving out here because that’s what we need,” he said. “We need a bigger tax base.”

He said one hurdle is a lack of available land, which could mean annexation talks occuring in the near future.

“There is some room for residential growth, but not a lot,” he said.

The public’s reaction to Fox’s platform has varied, he said.

“ A lot of the older people do feel that we like to keep it the way it is,” he said. “I know that’s what some people want but I can’t see it staying that way and still being a viable community. We just don’t have a big enough tax base to cover the needs of the village like infrastructure.

“Some of it needs repairing and we’re at a point where we can cover some, but not all. We need to find a way to get more money into the village.”

Long-time resident Kirk said it was MacLeod’s resignation that had him decide to run for council.

“I thought she was an excellent councillor and mayor and deputy mayor and I thought she represented her residents quite well,” Kirk said. “She stepped down and I thought maybe I should step in. I have a lot of knowledge.” Having served on council 20 years as councillor, mayor and deputy mayor, Kirk said he has a lot to offer the village. He last served on council in 2007.

Kirk said his background knowledge about various aspects of the village from infrastructure to water would be an asset to council, which consists of Mayor Kathie Wight and councillor Christina Weir.

During his time on council, Kirk said he was involved with projects such as the local campground, village office, library, post office, fire hall and the water and sewage treatment plant.

Kirk grew up in Longview and, after working in Fort McMurray for 12 years, returned and opened the Longview Jerky Shop with his sister.

He also served on the fire department for 15 years, including as deputy fire chief. He also a member of the board of directors for the village’s youth and seniors groups.

“I think I can help the residents out quite a bit, along with the council,” he said. “I hope I can pass down a lot of information to council and even the CAO.”

CAO Dale Harrison said December’s byelection will result in some delays to Village plans and initatives.

“We are only a three-person council so the organizational meeting we appoint different people to different boards and committee, we can’t have full delegations and responsibilities until after the election now,” he said. “It’s nicer to have three people voting on stuff instead of an even number.”

In addition, the elected individual will miss out on the upcoming Albert Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference this month and training workshop in early December, said Harrison.

“Both of those will happen prior to the election so the person who gets elected will have to attend a separate elected officials course,” he said.

With the AUMA conference occurring annually, Harrison said the new councillor will have to attend that next year, which will result in a higher cost as it will be located in either Red Deer or Edmonton, rather than Calgary, with hotel and travel expenses.

Harrison said he doesn’t know what the byelection will cost as the expenses for the municipal election have not yet been submitted, but he expect it to be similar to October’s election, minus advertising costs.

Rather than advertising the nomination day, advanced poll and election, Harrison said a flyer went to everyone’s door to provide those details instead.

“That’s less money than putting ads in and more effective,” he said. “We will save close to $700 from not putting in the ads and it meets the requirements of the Election Act.”

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