MEET AND GREET - Candidates for Red Deer City council met with the community during a meet and greet at the Red Deer Legion Tuesday night. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express

Crime and safety the hot topics on the campaign trail

First of many election forums and meet and greets held in Red Deer Tuesday night

As municipal council candidates knock on doors and meet with citizens from across the community, crime and safety have been the biggest topics of concern heading into the upcoming election.

Members of the community got the chance to mingle with election candidates to voice their concerns at the Red Deer Legion Tuesday evening.

“Red Deerians have been engaged on many issues. It’s very evident that crime and public safety has been the number one issue on the top of Red Deerians’ minds,” said Mayor and candidate Tara Veer.

Councillor candidate Brice Unland has also been hearing the issue of crime and safety loud and clear.

“I can’t knock on the door before I introduce myself and they let me know that crime and safety is the number one issue,” said Unland.

With the campaigning process well underway, candidates have weighed in that it’s been going in a positive direction, with many residents actively involved.

Unland and fellow candidate Jordy Smith said they’ve heard that citizens want to see some younger faces on council.

“I do hear a lot of people when I go door to door saying how they do want younger candidates and they do want to see a change,” said Smith.

Candidate Michael Dawe, who’s been out door knocking, meeting people directly and waving to people on the street, said he’s having fun with it, and has already gotten 200 car honks.

“We’ve done three waves already and we’ve got several more planned and they’ve all gone well,” he said.

Dawe said he’s been trying to get out to neighbourhoods of varying demographics to get a sense of what people want.

“The best way to find out what people are really thinking is to show up on their door step,” he said.

Like many candidates mentioned, Dawe said one of the biggest concerns is crime, particularly property crime.

“Those aren’t people telling me stories about somebody that told them that, they’re actually telling me about personal experiences, about having their house broken into, their truck stolen, their stuff stolen out of the yard, so that’s very concerning.”

Candidate and current Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said crime is something she’s also heard as the biggest among other issues.

“Certainly I would suggest that if any of the candidates aren’t saying safety and crime they’re giving the wrong answer. That is clearly what we’re hearing in our community,” said Wyntjes.”

Wyntjes said she goes to the farmers’ market each week and sits in her car afterwards to reflect on the different things she hears from citizens.

Among some of those citizens, she’s spoken with a resident who’s concerned about the federal cannabis legislation, along with another woman who wanted a treatment centre in the City.

“Another woman shared with me her story that her daughter had died of an opioid addiction several years ago and how we needed a treatment centre in our community, whether it’s in Red Deer or Central Alberta and how she was fighting for that because it would come too late for her daughter.”

Candidate Jim Kristinson also mentioned the drug issues faced in the City.

“The biggest issue we’re facing as a City is the drug crisis, because that is affecting our crime rate, it’s affecting homelessness, it’s affecting overcrowding at the hospital,” he said.

Although there are some candidates seeking re-election, and those with political background, there are some running with little to no experience who wish to hear the voices of those in the community.

“I wanted to get out into the public and meet our residents because I’ve always been that resident that sat in the back,” said mayoral candidate Sean Burke.

He said he would never think he would step foot to become in a position of mayor or even a politician.

“I live in Riverside Meadows. I’ve been asking for help, our community’s been asking for help and we just haven’t gotten it, so as a resident I want to be a part of it.”

Other candidates in the running for councillor positions include Vesna Higham, Valdene Callin, Rob Friss, Bayo Nshombo Bayongwa, Tanya Handley, Jeremy Moore, Matt Slubik, Lawrence Lee, Ian Miller, Bobbi McCoy, Jonathan Wieler, Rick More, Sam Bergeron, Doug Manderville, Ken Johnston, Jason Habuza, Frank Wong, Matt Chapin, Lynne Mulder, Buck Buchanan, Kris Maciborsky, Ted Johnson, Cory Kingsfield and Calvin Goulet-Jones.

carlie.connolly@reddeerexpress.com

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