someone said Bill Nye was wrong

It’s true, someone did say that.

Now then, on to the other thing that isn’t someone obviously being wrong about Bill Nye.

This year marks a municipal election year in Alberta. This marks the first municipal election cycle I’ve taken part of in the province since before 2002. I moved to Red Deer very shortly before the last cycle and never had a chance to mark an X for Jerry Boyle. This time around, I’m faced with picking people in Sylvan Lake in stead of Red Deer.

While that’s all well and good, the real fascinating action is happening in Red Deer. What, pray tell, is this action you ask?

Well, there’s a block of candidates who’ve aligned themselves under a common theme, share common resources, share a website, share a platform off that website, and colour themes on election signs! Now, before you start thinking this is anything like Vision Vancouver or COPE, well, it isn’t. Even though there’s a ton of confusion around here as to whether or not they’re actually a party (their main organizer says they aren’t), with common election issues (which they readily admit to having) and that they’re all individually registered candidates who would, if elected to council, be free to vote whichever way they choose but would likely make up a voting block supporting the same decision (there’s been lots of speculation and back and forth on this), at the end of the day, they’re still individually registered candidates with their own take on solutions for Red Deer. Except for the guy who organized the whole thing who isn’t running, but is running the group and has his picture up on the website as though he were a candidate with quotes and everything.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Red Deer First.

the Not Party Party Not At All Party Not Party. Party…?

Let’s just go with faction, that probably suits the whole scenario better without lumping them all together under the P word.

The interaction of RDF candidates ad the voting public has been interesting to watch. they’ve been the subject of a number of op-eds, newspaper articles and letters to the editor, labelling them as an unusual approach to municipal politics, blaming them for causing distracted driving with their signs, and trying to link them to the Wildrose Party. Some of the candidates are very active on facebook, others are not. Some of them are active on twitter, some of them are not. Some of them provide quick, though out answers. Some of them won’t answer at all if you ask more than one question.

To be fair, theirs is an unusual approach, especially in a city of under 100,000. They’ve done as much as they can to assure people they aren’t a party, but I can’t help but wonder whether this won’t overcome the electorates questions about shared resources, platform issues, etc. The distracted driving thing with the signs, yeah, I’m not even going to try and argue against that. When they put those up on the hill on Taylor Drive, you’re driving along with trees, trees, grass, trees, GIANT SIGNS, trees, trees. Is it effective sign placement? Yes, is it over the top? Yes. then we have the claims that they’re linked or somehow funded by the Wildrose. I don’t think they are, but then you have one of their candidates admit that they did use Wildrose property to help with signage.

Herein lies a problem I think they’re having. As much as you say you’re not linked to any one party or political group, the instant you admit you’ve used their resources as your own, it creates a link between them in the minds of voters. It doesn’t matter if Red Deer First only leased sign posts, many people will now see them as friendly with the Wildrose and automatically make the assumption that they’re somehow linked. The downside there is that lots of people think the Wildrose is nuts, and so are the people associated with it. This is not good for a group of candidates all vying for individual council seats, yet lumped together under one banner.

This, I think, points to a political naivety that the group has. They’ve focused a lot of time telling people they’re fiscally focused, and good for Red Deer, yet come off as incredibly defensive when questioned about anything other than their platform. It almost seems like they’re hoping that by repeating the same mantra over and over, people won’t bother with other questions.

Now, to give them the benefit of the doubt, there are RDF candidates who promote that approach much more aggressively than others, so it’s not entirely fair to put equal weight on all of them for that. Still, they’re lobbying for votes under one umbrella, so the consequences of that approach fall on all of them.

I thought that they’re approach was interesting, but that it left a lot to the imagination when it came to the individual stance of each candidate for the platform issues they’ve listed as common themes. I’ve asked some questions of them on facebook, which resulted in the defensive response I alluded to above. I’ve made it clear on Twitter that I’m not voting in Red Deer, and to at least one person (read, Ryan Handley, the man behind the entire RDF campaign) felt it necessary to question my concern with the Red Deer candidates if I don’t live there.

True, I don’t. I did, for two years prior to moving to Sylvan Lake. I work in Red Deer, I contribute to the local economy of Red Deer, I support local Red Deer businesses, I know business owners in Red Deer, I make use of public services in Red Deer, and have friends and family living there who’ll be affected by the outcome of this election. I also know business owners who operate in Red Deer, but don’t live there. I suppose they shouldn’t be concerned with local politics either. So far, my retort to his insinuation that I keep my nose busy with candidates in Sylvan has gone un-answered. Yes, sir, I have called you out on that.

I came up with a series of questions directly related to the RDF platform issues, which I sent to each candidate identifying the fact that I recognized there has been a lot of confusion about whether they are/aren’t a party, and this has taken away from the opportunity to hear from each of them. I then asked if they could please answer as many questions as they felt they could, but understood if they chose not to. I received two quick responses from Darren Young and Bob Bevins, who said that since the list of questions was long, they’d like to take their time to go through it and answer them well. This is the kind of thing voters appreciate, not “go look at facebook, I’ve answered this already.”

It remains to be seen how many of them I’ll hear back from. I doubt I’ll hear from all of them. I’ve also got a suspicion that they’ll all discuss the fact I sent them the same questions, will be told I don’t live in Red Deer, and simply ignore me.

I’ll post the results that I do get here, unaltered.

The questions are:

Fiscal Responsibility:

How will Red Deer ensure a stable, and large enough, source of revenue to cover all necessary costs, or future costs, without having to increase debt if tax increases are limited to growth plus inflation?


Will cost comparison studies be used to determine the methods used for a long term debt reductions strategy, or are the two issues separate entities?


Will cost comparison studies focus on all city services, or focused on a limited number? What do you personally feel is the appropriate amount of financial and/or city resources to devote to these studies?


How will you personally solicit public input and opinions in order to determine if any funds will be released to a special interest group? If no consensus can be reached through community input, how will you approach the funding request?


Will regular budget reviews be by calendar date, or done when any large spending is planned? How will the City Manager and Chief Financial Officer be involved in this process? Are you confident that regular, entire budget reviews can be completed quickly and not risk delaying any planned projects?


Do you believe that capital spending should be prioritized at annual or bi-annual times, or that it should be reprioritized if needed based on budget reviews?


Safer Streets

Do you believe that crime prevention and policing are two aspects of the same body, or two separate entities? Could you please clarify why for whichever you believe is true?


Do you feel that crime prevention should come primarily through increased enforcement, or should the city focus resources on addressing the root causes of some crime (ex: social aspects, drug use, poverty)?


Transportation and Roads

Do you feel that all of the on-road bike lanes in Red Deer should be removed?

As Red Deer was nationally recognized for the bike lanes, would you support re-examining them in the future to determine if they could be improved upon, or would you support an expansion to the trail network instead?


For clarity, the Red Deer First platform states that any bike lane that takes away lanes of motor traffic will be removed. Does this include lanes dedicated for street parking?


Would you support contracting out services for pothole repair and prevention, or should this be the sole responsibility of the city?


Snow removal in Red Deer is a key issue for many residents, yet financial restrictions play a large role in how much clearing can be planned and done. Would you support the contracting out of snow removal services, or should it remain the sole responsibility of the city with more finances and personnel dedicated to it?


If the redesign of the Taylor Drive/Ross Street instersection is stopped, what solutions do you propose to allow traffic to more easily access the planned redevelopment of the railyards?


DO you believe more should be done to enhance the public transportation network in Red Deer? Could you provide examples of how you would promote the use of public transportation in the city?


Quality of Life

Would you promote non-toxic alternatives to chemical sprays for pest control, or should tried and true pest control methods be used to control them as quickly as possible?


Transparency and Accountability

Why do you personally believe that a ward system would benefit Red Deer over the current at-large system?


Should town hall style meetings be held during regular city operating hours, or should they be scheduled for times when a greater numbers of citizens are able to attend (i.e. after work)?


What would the goals, or focus, of a youth and senior committee be?


The city currently uses it’s website to host online surveys from citizens. Would better use technology be used in much the same vein (to host/conduct information gathering activities), or would it involve an overall adoption of technology to improve communication in general (ex: a clear and active social media voice)?


Economic Development

What are some examples of red tape that interfere with planning, licensing and permitting that you feel should be removed or streamlined?


With the exception or those businesses in the downtown Business Revitalization Zone, there is no business tax in the city. Is the review of tax rates paid by businesses focused on the ones in the Business Revitalization Zone, or is the review focused on whether those excluded from the BRZ should be paying taxes?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *