By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
Of its seven divisions, only two will be going to the polls for the Paintearth County general municipal election on Oct. 18.
The County council runs on a division system, where candidates are elected for certain areas of the County. With candidates running unopposed in five divisions, they were all acclaimed once nominations ceased on Sept. 20.
Incumbent George Glazier was acclaimed as the representative for Division 1, Coronation. Incumbent Dale Norton was acclaimed for Division 2, Fleet.
Reeve Stan Schulmeister was acclaimed for Division 3, southwest of Castor. With the retirement of long-time Councillor Tyrill Hewitt, newcomer Sandy Shipton was acclaimed in Division 6, the north-central part of the County. Finally, incumbent Diane Elliot was acclaimed as the councillor for Division 7, Brownfield area.
Contests are being held in Division 4 and Division 5.
In Division 4, Halkirk, incumbent Doreen Blumhagen is running against newcomer Terry Vockeroth.
“I want to continue to serve because there are a few things I want to see through,” said Blumhagen.
“I feel like I have grown ten-fold in this last term, and I would like to continue that.”
Blumhagen has served on County council since 2013 and has been a big advocate for the County’s adoption of social media in that time.
“I guess I realized, social media has become a big part of communication, and I advocated for that, and we now have a very good handle on it.
“Then our new (Chief Administrative Officer) expanded that even further into the new County app.”
If re-elected, Blumhagen wants to continue the County’s focus on public engagement.
“I’d like to see us continue with public engagement because COVID really put a hamper on that,” said Blumhagen.
“We did continue, but not in the same fashion, and face to face discussions are really important.”
Another priority for Blumhagen would be continuing in her role as the Chair of the Paintearth Economic Partnership Society.
“My priorities would be to continue our economic partnership goals and strategic plan, work with (Battle River Economic Opportunity Committee), improve industry, and business growth. We have good people here to work, and we have good land and opportunities here. I think small-town rural Alberta gets overlooked.”
Competing for the Division 4 seat is Vockeroth.
“I would like to serve and have the honour of serving on the County council for the betterment of the community as a whole,” said Vockeroth.
“I will be a voice for all the people of Division 4. You cannot as a council member make any promises that I will change the world for you, but I can absolutely listen to you concerns, and if it’s enough of a concern for (a ratepayer) it’s enough of a concern for me to bring to council.”
Vockeroth feels now is a good time to wade into the political world.
“Now that I’m not working 200 hours a month, I feel that I will now have the time needed to serve on council, and be an asset to the community, Division 4, and the County as whole,” said Vockeroth.
“Having been successful over decades of time with a business, you learn to deal with people, you learn to manage budgets. The County, as much as it is a government, we are elected …I feel I can bring a really good business sense to that.”
Vockeroth’s vision for the County centres around the people.
“(My) vision for the community is where young people want to stay with their families or relocate to be with their families here in the County of Paintearth. Also, where seniors can stay, retire here, and be near their loved ones with some services. That would be a driving vision for me.”
In Division 5, Castor north, the candidates are incumbent Maurice Wiart and Dwayne Felzien.
Wiart wants to continue serving to “give back a little.” Before his first term, he had never been in politics before.
“The first term is a learning experience,” said Wiart.
“It takes you a year or two to get up to speed.”
Wiart believes one of his strengths, if he were to remain on council, is his, and the rest of council’s, track record with spending and taxes.
“We’re holding the line on taxes,” said Wiart.
“We have pretty good infrastructure in place at the moment, it costs a lot to upgrade and maintain it. I’m very fiscally conservative. We’ve done a few projects … we’ve secured quite a bit of gravel for the long term, that will go a long way into the future to help keep good roads at lower costs.”
Wiart, who has a farming background, says his long-term goal is for growth in the County.
“It would be nice to bring something to the area to keep the area vibrant. Some smaller business to help the area thrive and bolster the younger population. A priority would be to hold the line on taxes, and keep our infrastructure maintained.”
Running against Wiart in Division 5 is Felzien.
“I think the primary reason I would look at for serving is, we have been a part of the community for a very, very, long time,” said Felzien.
“I’m in a position where I have more time to give it a priority. We have 20 young young families, with over 40 young kids, which is very unique in Alberta to have that many young families come back. I think I can bring them comfort and offer them support and help them find ways to stay and be successful.”
Priorities for Felzien, if elected, would be to, “Keep consulting and working for young families, to make sure the things in the area they need are here.
“I’d look for ways to create opportunities and jobs,” said Felzien.
“(Our family has been) part of the development of everything that has happened (in the County). We’ve always wanted it done in ways that supports young families and encourages people.”
Felzien is a long-term resident of the area, with his family originally homesteading 111 years ago, and in his adult life, has participated in the community with coaching, volunteering, and other various things.
“My history proves that I am always willing to listen,” said Felzien.
The poll location will be the County administration building from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Identification will be required.