With the municipal election now less than a month away, current councillor Al Jones has announced he will campaign for a second term.
“I have had the privilege, along with my council colleagues, to see some things come to fruition where there was a lot of hard work done,” Jones said. “I have quite enjoyed those wins, although not everything is a win. I’d like to continue that good work.”
Jones said as he attempts to snag another term as councillor, he is proud to say the last four years have been much more cooperative and respectful than he felt the previous council was. He added voters can expect him to continue to work hard, whether he votes for an item or not.
“I think that is important,” he said. “I hope everyone running for office has that same attitude.”
Nearing completion of his first term, Jones referenced Airdrie’s upcoming new library, and the continued work on the 40 Avenue highway bridge and interchange as two infrastructure items he’d like to see through. While the COVID-19 pandemic challenged City council, he said there was still a lot of great work that was accomplished.
While no one could have predicted the difficulties the pandemic brought forward, Jones said it has been a difficult ride that council continues to navigate.
“None of us are doctors or health-care professionals,” he said. “We look to the health-care professionals for guidance. I do feel that there wasn’t enough. I feel there was a lot of having somebody else float decisions.”
Jones referenced recent restrictions, which came into effect in Alberta on Sept. 16 and 20. He said the way the provincial government worded new changes meant businesses have a choice on how to move forward – they can require proof of vaccination from patrons, or continue operations at a reduced, one-third capacity.
“[For]... the City of Airdrie, one-third capacity means the taxpayer is going to be on the hook,” he said. “Those things would lose buckets of money if we had to run at one-third capacity.”
While the last four years have had their share of ups and downs, Jones said he looks forward to trying to secure another term on council. He believes having spent time in the community and getting to know many people is an asset to his campaign.
“It gives me a wider lens to look through when I am making a decision,” he said, adding that over the past four years, he learned advocacy to higher government is a must in municipal politics.
“We assume the City can control many things that we in fact cannot,” he said. “If we want things for our community, it takes some statesmanship and some spirited advocacy. It’s not always done nicely, but it is important to bring awareness to the needs of our community.”
According to Jones, as the Province continues to make cuts, the City will have to decide what can programs and services can carry on. He said for everything that may no longer be covered by provincial funding, the City will have to find other ways to pay.
“It’s a very delicate balancing act,” he said, adding the City’s next budget will likely be an “ugly one,” due to Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding being cut by 25 per cent – equalling up $5 million.
“We are also looking at an increased RCMP contract,” he said. “Every $600,000 is another per cent tax. Just those two items alone, not counting cutbacks to social programs or other provincial or federal cuts, we have to find the money or cut from the system.”
Although there are some tough decisions on the horizon, Jones feels he is ready and capable to be a part of the council that makes those calls.
Jones is also stressing the importance of getting out to vote on Oct. 18.
“Please, regardless of who you are voting for, take the time to vote,” he said. “It is imperative that the higher levels of government see an active and engaged community. It helps us advocate for our community."