The mayoral candidates' forum is tonight. And despite the attention the media is giving to this election, it really matters.
Reading through Jeff Langford's website, it reeks of petulance from someone who is upset he isn't getting his way. His website includes a diatribe from a developer who accuses incumbent and opponent Craig Snodgrass of not being developer friendly. And yet there are many other projects that have been completed during both of Snodgrass' mayoral terms, and many more in discussions.
Langford also bemoans issues that are not managed by Council or by a Mayor alone. As an example, it is not the Town's job to promote businesses to residents. A business should have its own marketing budget, and government should stay out of the way because it's not Town Council's job to build business. It's Town Council's job to set policies and procedures that provide the services needed for business to operate, such as water, sewer, roads, and other infrastructure. Good infrastructure makes it possible for growth, both economically and residentially. With good infrastructure in place, business builds business.
So really, a "business-friendly" mayor is, while also only being one voice on a 7-person council, a mayor that makes infrastructure, policies and procedures happen, so that business can exist however business chooses to exist.
I slide over to Craig Snodgrass' website to see if there is counterpoint. I see an explanation of every proposed development, including the one by the diatribal developer, and one who isn't willing to pay to make a plan by ... wait, who? Jeff Langford? Oh, I see. He's running to get his own way, and to make the taxpayer's pay for plans. I wonder if he realizes that in order to get his way, he still has to convince six councillors to agree with him.
When it comes to the Coal Policy, Langford has missed the point egregiously. He lightly suggests that an industry that could risk harming the environment should be avoided when possible. He suggests that an industry could be an eyesore. Not once does he come fully out and say he opposes the Coal Mining in the headwaters of the Highwood River, the location where our potable water supply comes from. He's missed the point, and proves to be an inadequate voice to an issue that can have serious health implications for residents.
But Langford doesn't care how High Riverites vote. If they vote "yes", he suggests that he'd take the $15 million that would be non-bindingly approved through the pool referendum, and direct it toward a new build (that would run between $25 and $30 million plus maintenance costs of a separate facility). He has no location planned, no design planned, no infrastructure services, no guarantee of convincing the other 6 voices on Council or the 7 voices on Foothills County Council to agree (when they already have their own facility in Aldersyde), and no plan on how to fund its maintenance after the fact, leaving High Riverites with undeniably no improvements on recreation plans for at least another 4 years if not far longer.
I find it funny how, exactly 8 years ago today, I had a similar issue with a different candidate for mayor.
What Langford is saying, basically, is "even if you vote yes to the plans they've laid out, I'm still gonna take that money and do my own plan anyway. What is that plan? Well, I'll make that up later, but only if the right people get voted in." How disrespectful of the High River voter. And how irresponsible.
After having made it through Langford's site, I have to admit I'm nervous. As I said before, had I depended upon signage to see who has the popular vote, I'd think Snodgrass was going to lose.
Reading through Craig Snodgrass's website and Facebook feed, as well as reading through his history, his passion is obvious. His work (along with the rest of the outgoing council) on the Coal Restriction Policy has been steadfast and strong, his advocacy for High River and the DRP post-flood has been incredible, and his ability to look many years into the future is obvious. Certainly this kind of vision is not without a few missteps from time to time, but one can never doubt that Snodgrass works with the idea of helping High River be a place for people to grow up, live and enjoy the winters of their lives in.
I'm not interested in taking the town backwards. Moving High River forward is not accomplished through bending to developer demands of today. We've seen what happens when we do that with the annihilation of whole developments on flood plains. And if that happens again, High River residents will undoubtedly be on the hook for it.
Moving High River forward means looking 5, 10, 25 years into the future, making a plan for what that High River looks like, and getting started with the resources we have. When you watch the forum tonight, I think you'll discover fairly quickly which person that is.
Updated - Video from the Forum Now Posted