Snow Day

(The picture of the snow was from 1967…not really relevant but I thought I’d go with it.)

I’ve been busy with my new life trying to learn everything there is to learn about being a city councillor so I haven’t really been doing a lot of extracurricular writing. I thought I’d spend a little time doing just that.

Randomly I go…

In the words of Captain obvious, “We have a lot of snow.” Thank you to my neighbor Gary Paskuski who loves his new snow blower and has volunteered to be the new snow removal king of the block. I told him I couldn’t get him city wages for doing that.

I’m glad the kids got out Trick Or Treating before this snow hit otherwise there would have been more kids dressed up like members of an Antarctic expedition than super heroes.

We have a new pug. We got him from the Humane Society. He’s 5-years old and we named him George Clooney because he is older and quite distinguished. This is our first male pug which may be why he asked me to build him a man cave so he can watch a lot of hockey and football. My wife is struggling to believe me that I can communicate with a dog.

I was happy for the Houston Astros winning the World Series. Did any newspaper use the headline, “Houston, we don’t have a problem.” ?

I had a nostalgic reason for hoping the Dodgers would win because of their former connection with Lethbridge in the Pioneer Baseball League back in the 70s and 80s.

The Lethbridge Dodgers won a couple of Pioneer League Championships with the likes of Steve Sax, Mike Marshall, Greg Brock and Candy Maldonado. Sax & Marshall were on the team that won the World Series in 1988.

But you couldn’t help liking the Houston Astros story. They were a horrible team only a few years ago and committed to rebuilding. They got better and better on the field and their connection to the city of Houston after the devastating Hurricane this year showed what sports can do to help a community recover both financially and spiritually.

Thanks to realtor Trevor Stuart for the wonderful “house cake.” I sent him a referral and as an appreciation he surprised me with a pretty remarkable cake made in the shape of a house complete with edible shrubs. I don’t know if the house was built to the Lethbridge Home Builders code but Crazy Cakes did a great job.

And so I’m going to venture into the dangerous world of trying to fix a leaky sink in my kitchen. And yes I’m going to attempt it by myself. I think I’ve got this. (Famous last words.) I’ll have a report in the morning.

Stay warm. And dry.


And So It Begins….

What a week. I’ve had four solid days of orientation at City Hall as I begin this journey into the world of councillor. There has been so much information to absorb from role responsibility to agenda reviews to learning the massive Municipal Government Act which I am told is the second biggest legal government document next to insurance. I’ve also found that there is an acronym for everything which has left me in the dark on a number of occasions wondering what it is we’re talking about. To say there is a learning curve is like saying Nolan Ryan had a pretty good fastball. At the outset it feels like grasping all of this is as impossible as staging a Traveling Wilbury’s reunion.

But the good news is that everyone is here for support. Those who have gone through what I’m going through understand that it will take some time to grasp everything and are more than willing to offer their advice. I am going to take them up on it.

There is a very positive vibe I’m feeling. Whether that lasts for four years remains to be seen but it’s very apparent that everyone wants you to succeed. It’s for the good of everyone if we do and I really appreciate that kind of environment because I’ve certainly worked at places where that wasn’t necessarily the case.

I am humbled by the support that voters have given to me and I appreciate the people who have come up to me on the street or super market these past few days to offer their congratulations.

While that good will is wonderful, I don’t take lightly the fact that I was elected by those people and it is important for me to work for them. There is a book I’m currently reading called Cuff’s Guide for Municipal Leaders. It talks about governance and what it requires. Things like a willingness to learn, an understanding of the issues, research, fact checking and a readiness to compromise on issues. Those attributes are definitely doable and I’m ready for the challenge. Now as for those acronyms…I’ve requested a cheat sheet. LOL…

Oh What A Night!


It’s been a journey. I never thought I’d run for a political office. I didn’t think it was in my DNA. But after a great deal of contemplation and encouragement from people I respect I threw my hat into the ring to seek a seat on city council. To get the ball rolling I put out a press release, did a few interviews and made it official when I submitted my name on nomination day. Twenty-eight other people had the same goal in mind. There were eight seats up for grabs. Seven of the eight current councillors announced their intention to run again. Historically incumbents have a leg up on their competition. In my mind to have a realistic chance I’d be looking to fill that 8th spot.

There was a lot of trepidation. To quote my good friend and fellow candidate Dave Mikuliak, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” It’s daunting to realize that there is so much to grasp when it comes to how civic government works. But it’s up to me to learn it. Will I do that in a few weeks? I’m betting that I’m not. But I’m not going to stop figuring it out.

First off was a forum at Galt Gardens during Love & Records put on by CKXU. That was the first of many to come. Forums are a necessary but challenging part of this whole election process. You get a limited amount of time to express your views and sometimes you get some really tough questions that require more than a one minute answer.

One of the best parts of the forums was getting to know all of the other candidates. I can say unequivocally that I liked them all. Each of them brought their own passion and hope for the city. I respect them all. There was very little negative campaigning and I think we all agreed that we don’t know how they do it in the US when candidates go for almost two solid years running for president.

I did the standard campaigning: Signs, brochures, a website. I’m so thankful to get a team of people to help me with all of it

I made the conscious choice to not go door to door unannounced. I know when I’m at home watching a baseball game or Dancing With The Stars I hate getting interrupted by having to answer the door. I thought I would avoid what I think is an awkward situation and I’m not sure it gets you any extra votes.

I was very encouraged by the number of people who told me that they were going to vote for me. Whether that translated into real votes was yet to be determined. I was cautiously optimistic about my chances of sneaking in for that final 8th  seat. Monday night came and I was with a number of family members and supporters at Original Joes on the West Side. When the numbers started to come in and it showed that I was leading everyone I was quite stunned. It’s very humbling. While it’s a great feeling it also adds to the pressure of making sure I don’t let people down. I was asked last night if my reputation for not taking things too seriously will be a detriment to what my job is going to be. As I said to them I’ll never apologize for my sense of humor and will continue to add levity when appropriate but I will absolutely take this position very seriously and make sure I’m making  informed decisions that are best for the city.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who voted for me. It means the world to me that you’ve put your trust in me and I’ll do my best to not disappoint.

I’m looking forward to working with Mayor Spearman and the rest of the councillors and here’s to an amazing 4 years.

The Wine List-10 Shows

Over the last 10 weeks Craig Baunton from Everything Wine & More has been highlighting a number of wines available at his store. Today I thought I’d let you peruse through all 10 wines we featured just in case you’re looking for “…a bottle of white, a bottle of red…perhaps a bottle of rose instead…”


The Final Forum

The final candidates forum was held Tuesday night before election day on October 16. This was put on by the Southern Alberta Community Living Association. The evening centered around questions about reconciliation, inclusiveness, immigration and problems with inaccessibility in the city.

I applaud the city for being the first city to approve a 10-year reconciliation plan. I remember talking to lawyer Rhonda Ruston who was involved in a class-action law suit against the government for what was an unbelievable injustice to aboriginals who were stripped of their culture and forced into residential schools. I wanted to do a short interview with her on radio about her experiences but she said there simply wouldn’t be enough time. It was too complex an issue and there were so many emotional stories. John Pogorzelski who is Metis related a story about his grandmother and struggled to hold back his tears. The healing has begun but there’s a very long way to go.

Stories were also brought forth about handicapped people who struggle with simply getting around. The City is doing a good job with ramps and lowering curbs but there is still a way to go.

When it comes to immigration I eluded to how special it has been in my media world to get to interview people like Surya Acharya of the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association and Sarah Amies of Lethbridge Family Services Immigrant Services. They both have a passion for the city and have so much knowledge of  cultures and how do deal with refugee situations. Immigrants have always been an integral part of our city and should continue to be welcomed.

This format was a little different in that there were four questions we all got in advance and there was a random draw as to who answered them. We all had one talk free card if we wanted to add to the question we felt passionate about.

We had 2 minutes for our answers which I feel is a better amount of time than the 1 minute we’ve had in past forums.

Raymond Hoffarth was not in attendance as he was dealing with the unfortunate passing of his brother. I understand that Joe Mauro is a good friend of the Hoffarth family and was also not in attendance. My sympathies to them.

We have two more Meet & Greets this week. One will be Thursday at CASA between 5 and 7 and one on Friday from 12:30-2:30 at the LSCO. If you’ve got time to pop by I’d love to talk to you.

As a side note and totally irrelevant, the forum was at Antons in the Lethbridge Lodge and I felt a little sad that it is no longer the “fancy” restaurant it used to be where the waiter would come to your table and prepare a Caesar salad in front of you. I miss that.

There’s an advanced poll today until 8pm at Andy’s Place at the University and again on Saturday from 10am-8pm at City Hall.

There’s also a mobile voting station option. There’ll be a bus set up in front of Park Place Mall Thursday from 10am-2pm. It will then move to the Westside Safeway from 4-8pm.


Forum #3 this week

It was the 3rd forum of the week last night this time with the Home Builders Association. They are an integral part of the city. Here are some numbers provided by them:

The economic impact to our local economy for 2016:

  • 677 New housing starts – a key to economic growth in our community
  • 1,498 On-site and off-site jobs in new home construction, a major source of employment in Lethbridge
  • $103 Million in wages – that show up in purchases across the entire local economy
  • $318 Million in investment value – the largest single wealth-builder for most families

There was a lot of discussion about the city being in competition with developers and whether that is right or wrong. Something I learned is that a portion of money that the city generates gets turned over to social housing projects.

There are a lot of complex issues in the housing world like off-site levies which we didn’t really get into. The panel made up of CHBA members admitted that there were some tough questions but they were pleased with the way we all answered them to the best of our abilities.

What I liked about last night is the panel’s willingness to engage with the councillors and mayoralty candidates. On a couple of occasions we asked them questions. I thought it was productive.

Pat Siedlecki of Clear Sky Radio was the moderator and really kept everyone in line. When our time was up, it was up. When there’s 31 people who want to talk, you’ve got to keep it moving.

Next Tuesday there is a forum put on by SACLA at Antons at the Lethbridge Lodge from 6-8pm.

There is a Meet & Greet Tuesday from 1-3pm at the LSCO and on Thursday October 12 there will be a Meet & Greet at CAS from 5-7pm. That’s put on by the Allied Arts Council and Downtown BRZ.

Don’t forget, there’s an advanced poll Saturday, Oct. 7 at City Hall from 10am-8pm.

Another Night, Another Forum

Wednesday night was another election forum this time put on by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce. Forums are a necessary part of the process of finding out who you want as your representative on council but with 29 candidates for councillor and 3 for mayor it can be a daunting task. It’s like turning on a new season of Survivor and deciding in the first episode who you want to win. It’s difficult for each candidate as well trying to get their message across in the one minute that is allotted to them. I do find myself getting ruffled by the time restriction especially when you see you’ve got 10 seconds left and you’ve got at least 20 seconds of words in your mind.

In his preamble the moderator probably should have told everyone to just leave the wireless microphones turned on for the entire night. It was kind of comical in the early going when the first 10 seconds of everyone’s speech seemed to be “Is this on?”

The Chamber of Commerce is an integral part of the city and if I’m elected I would always want to get their expert opinion on business matters. Again I preach that partnership is a great form of leadership.

I’ve also said that there is a great learning curve with my first foray into civic politics. I am learning but there is still a long way to go. Because they arrange seating in alphabetical order I always sit beside council veteran Jeff Carlson who has been incredibly gracious in sharing his council acumen with me.

Much has been said about voter apathy and trying to engage younger voters. Hopefully you will make a real effort to get out to exercise your right on October 16.

Don’t forget there are advanced polls for your convenience:

  • Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017                    City Hall, 910-4th Avenue South
  • Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017             University of Lethbridge, Andy’s Place, 4401 University Drive W.
  • Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017                  City Hall, 910-4th Avenue South


Tonight it’s the Canadian Home Builders Association forum at the Lethbridge College from 5-9.