More candidates onboard for coming election

This year’s election campaign is beginning to heat up as a local has added her name to the council race and two incumbents have announced they are seeking re-election.

Over the past week, incumbents Gail Parks and Cindy Jefferies have announced they will run, and community activist Terry Lee Ropchan has thrown her hat in the ring.

Parks, first elected to City council in 2007, said she regularly hears from citizens who want her to remain a positive and persuasive voice for them, their families and their neighbourhoods.

“I wouldn’t take anyone’s vote for granted, I wouldn’t do that. So I’ve talked to the community and the community has been overwhelmingly supportive. My heart is very full with that,” she said.

“In this term, we have seen encouraging changes. Our new (transit terminal) is up and running and Red Deer Council is assuming an increased leadership role.

“And as we evolve towards a city of 300,000 people we need forward-thinking and progressive leaders to help shape a community that works for both newcomers and current residents. I look forward to the City’s new planning department opening on November 1 as a major step in that process.” Parks also said that receiving and responding to citizens’ concerns are among her strengths.

“We are building a total community here and it is essential to hear the aspirations and ideas of everyone in the City.”

Parks’ past experience includes 15 years as a federal and provincial constituency assistant and nine years as a Newmarket town councilor in Ontario.

Meanwhile, Ropchan, who ran for council in 2004, has thrown her hat into the election ring as well.

“It was a good experience but I don’t think people got to know me,” said Ropchan, 46.

She added she believes she will add a “positive, fresh perspective with a ‘yes we can’ attitude when it comes to decision making and problem solving.

“I will continue to support and encourage residents to take ownership of their neighbourhoods which ultimately creates the safe, active city we all want to live in,” said Ropchan. “Community driven initiatives are high on my priority list.”

Ropchan is involved in City programs including Neighbourhood Watch, Citizens on Patrol, the Youth Justice Committee, the Crime Prevention Advisory Committee and the SAFE Downtown Initiatives Task Force.

Ropchan said if she is elected she will focus on finding solutions for traffic issues, speeding, crosswalk safety, ensuring neighbourhoods have community centres to hold events and programs, subdivision design that focus on people not roads and vehicles, creating a safe downtown and addressing brown spaces in the City.

Incumbent Jefferies said she is ready to go for a third term on council.

“I am just back from a little vacation and eager to hit the campaign trail,” she said. Jefferies said highlights from her six years on council include the decision to move the civic yards, work on the Greater Downtown Action Plan, the renewal of facilities like the Recreation Centre and the Dawe Centre and progress on affordable housing.

“I have also appreciated the opportunity to get to know my community from a perspective that only council can offer,” she said. “We meet so many people and see so much of the activity in our City – it really gives you an appreciation of the contribution people make in our community.

“I am talking about employees of the City as well as our citizens. Through work, play and volunteering each one of us contributes to making this a better place to live. There is a lot to celebrate in this city; there is a lot of passion for this place.”

Others putting their names in the running for this year’s municipal election include Dianne Wyntjes, Matt Chapin, Paul Harris, Christopher Stephan and Jim Watters.

Current councillors Buck Buchanan and Lynne Mulder have also declared their candidacy. Councillors Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer and Larry Pimm have announced they will not seek re-election.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling has also announced that he will seek another term in the mayor’s chair.

The municipal election will run Oct. 18.