A last-minute challenger – and a familiar face – has emerged for the mayor’s seat in Airdrie’s upcoming municipal election.
Former City councillor Allan Hunter is re-entering the political realm, after serving on Airdrie City council from 2010 to 2017.
In entering the three-candidate race to be Airdrie’s next mayor, Hunter said his motivation in putting his name forward is a desire for Airdrie to be less like Calgary in terms of its political decision-making.
He added he would like Airdrie to be considered less as a bedroom community, and more as a destination in and of itself.
“I believe we’re in a critical time in Airdrie and of course around the province, Canada, and beyond,” he said. “I think on a go-forward basis, we need some strong leadership.”
As an example of Airdrie’s Calgary-centric behaviour, Hunter cited council’s recent approval of funding for a feasibility study to develop an inter-municipal bike path between the two cities.
“One of the challenges I have [noticed] with the way we do business in Calgary, we seem to be a mirror image of how Calgary does it,” he said. “I don’t live in Calgary, I chose to leave Calgary many years ago, and we need to do things that are Airdrie-based and Airdrie-centric. I’m going to focus on making sure we have solutions that make sense to Airdrie, not just because Calgary does it.”
Hunter’s platform revolves around the City’s finances and taxation, as well as the management of Airdrie’s growth, planning and development, policing and emergency services, and the environment.
He said he wants to find ways to ease the burden on Airdrie’s residential tax base by attracting business investment to the city. He added his lengthy career in engineering, commercial real estate, and other business ventures make him a suitable fit for mayor.
“So often, what happens in municipal, provincial, or federal politics is, an individual gets elected and becomes a salesman for the government,” Hunter said. “That’s not my role and never will be my role. I’m going to represent the tax-paying citizens at every opportunity.
“When I see young families struggling, I just can’t stand idle anymore without doing something and saying, ‘I have some expertise and some ideas.’ I have a lot of business associations and think we could do a much better job of getting out of the residential taxpayers’ pockets and getting onto things that are much more equitable.”
While he originally wanted to join the Canadian Forces growing up, Hunter said life circumstances ultimately took him away from that route. Instead, he entered the oil and gas industry out of high school.
After the economic downturn in Alberta in the 1980s, he said he went back to school to become a power engineer. Outside of his career, he volunteers with various non-profit organizations on behalf of veterans, including the Veterans Association Food Bank.
After serving seven years on Airdrie City council, Hunter’s re-election campaign in 2017 was marred by a social-media-related controversy that erupted shortly before voters went to the polls.
In early September 2017, Hunter posted an image of a symbol related to Strasserism – which according to DBPedia.org is a more radical form of Nazism – to his personal Twitter account. The symbol included an intersecting hammer and sword around a circle that included the statement, “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.’
Public backlash led to Hunter ultimately apologizing for posting the image, and admitting his handling of the situation was poor. He also claimed he did not know the political significance behind the image before he posted it.
Addressing the post four years later, Hunter added he has since learned how to better use social media as a tool.
“The only thing I’ll say is, I’m a rotary phone guy, if you will, but I’m getting much better at using all the different aspects of technology and social media,” he said. “We all do things we look back on and say, ‘Maybe I should revisit my skillsets there.’ I can tell you I’ve had some training with social media that make me much more adept at looking at, discerning, and using it as a positive tool.
“There’s not much to say other than that. The haters are going to come out, there will be people out there who will throw it out there, but it has no bearing on Allan Hunter in 2021 and certainly no bearing in the future.”
Hunter's opponents in the mayoral race this year include incumbent Peter Brown and Lindsey Coyle.
For more on Hunter’s candidacy and platform, search @allanhunterformayor on Facebook.