A native Airdronian who recently returned home to his roots is vying for a seat on City council in the upcoming Oct. 18 municipal election.
If elected as councillor, Chris Stockton said he hopes to honour the city’s past while building for its future.
The candidate said Airdrie has changed a lot since he was young, as he remembers a time when the city boasted a population of about 20,000 people.
He said while the innovators who came before brought groundbreaking infrastructure to help cope with a growing population, residents can no longer rely solely on their efforts.
“We can’t just count on their legacy,” he said. “We need to take the next step forward and that’s why I talk about building for the future.
“I’ve got two young boys and I want them to have great memories of Airdrie as well.”
According to Stockton, the City invested heavily in infrastructure in the late 1970s and ‘80s, but they have since failed to keep up with Airdrie's rapid growth.
“One frustrating thing to me about the current situation is we aren’t re-developing those community infrastructure pieces quick enough,” he said. “Some of that is impossible in the sense that we don’t expect we’re going to grow so fast.
“We need to be ready to move on some of those things sooner than we have.”
He acknowledged the City’s efforts to procure new recreation facilities and a library in the coming years, but added the community is in need of them sooner rather than later.
“We can’t get them now, but we can change how we plan for past that and we can change how we plan for infrastructure projects moving forward,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re planning far enough ahead.”
After spending much of his upbringing in Airdrie, Stockton moved away for university, began a career as a high-school teacher, and then transitioned to the world of theatre arts working for Theatre Calgary.
It was a job offer at the Bert Church LIVE Theatre that facilitated Stockton’s eventual homecoming in 2019.
“I’m proud to be back home,” he said. “I’m invested in being here long-term and I believe I bring a fresh young perspective to council that is informed about the city and recognizes and respects the past and what has come before.”
Stockton said when the opportunity arose to run in the upcoming municipal election, he thought he would be uniquely suited to the position, as he can identify with a wide range of residents.
“I can identify with the people who have lived here their whole lives and the people who just moved here.” he said. “I am both in a lot of ways and now that I’ve got a young family and my parents who are seniors living here, I want that broad spectrum of people to be successful and live a great life.”
He said serving the public and helping lead council toward positive change would be an “incredible honour.” He added he would bring a perspective to council that hasn’t been heard before, referencing his experience in education and the arts.
Stockton said his time working for the City through his role with Bert Church LIVE Theatre has also equipped him with the necessary knowledgebase to perform duties as a councillor.
“I’ve really been able to see some of the incredible staff and resources and management of dollars within the city,” he said. “I feel that I bring a perspective of someone who has been a part of the budgeting process – I understand the ins-and-outs of some of those pieces.”
He added he honed collaboration skills such as finding common ground and working together toward a common goal during his time as an educator.
“I think that we might not always agree on council, but we all have the same vision of what we want to do in the community that we want to help create for our citizens,” he said. “The skills that I have as an educator are going to [equip me] to not just work with the council members, but also for our citizens.”
According to Stockton, his approachable personality lends itself well to getting to know members of the community.
“Having grown up here, I know a lot of people who’ve lived here, but I’m excited to get to know the new people here, too,” he said.
Follow me on Twitter @carmenrcundy