Get To Know The Candidates For This Year’s Municipal Election
October 18 is approaching quickly, and the Voice would like to give people the opportunity to get to know the multitude of people in the area running in this year’s municipal elections. The next issue will introduce the remainder of the Town councilor candidates as well as the School Trustee candidates, and the people running for the County of Vermilion River Council.
Each candidate was asked three questions:
What do you want the residents of Vermilion to know about you as they head to the polls on October 18?
Why did you choose to run for Town Council?
If elected, what is something you would like to see accomplished in your four year term?
Kevin Martin wants Vermilion to know he is a community supporter, a strong advocate for volunteering, and was locally born and raised.
“I would like to see Vermilion continue to grow, with both business and families, and enhance our presence in the province for the right reasons,” said Kevin Martin.
He believes there is a need to establish a forecast for Vermilion’s long term future, not just the short term. “Being on the Vermilion Facility Enhancement Board highlighted the need for continued facility enhancement in our community. We have an excellent community of volunteers, I believe the town can continue to grow working collaboratively with them,” commented Martin.
If elected, Martin would like to work on a new direction for housing in town, whether that be the development of land for new housing, or incentives to improve the aged housing in town.
Candidate Amr Rezk feels that his moderate perspective on social and political issues, and his willingness to listen to all points of views are important traits people should know about him. Coming to Canada as an adult, Rezk was eager to learn more about our community with no prejudgment or bias regarding a certain point of view.
“I am running for council because I witnessed a great deal of polarization which started to divide people in town, and the pandemic made the issue worse. I believe a moderate position and sensible ideas from the council would be beneficial for building a better community and bringing people together,” said Amr Rezk.
Rezk continued, stating, “I hope to be the voice for people in town who otherwise feel they sometimes aren’t heard. I can encourage them to speak up, be active and engage in productive discussions regarding the future of our community.” If elected, Rezk would like to see the council revisit their plans for the establishment of a field house centre in Vermilion, a facility that would provide space for activities all year round.
“I am all about humanitarianism,” states candidate Brad Gallamore, “I will gladly volunteer if there is help needed. I want to build a stronger community.” He started a local not-for-profit organization and street team that regularly collects and distributes food, water and clothing to unhoused community members. Gallamore wants townspeople to know he has a big goal of attracting some indigenous-based businesses to Vermilion. He feels Vermilion is an inviting community to everyone and can be a town that makes people want to live and invest in, thereby growing the local economy and building a stronger community. Gallamore decided to run for council after a local incident involving a very sensitive issue occurred and he felt that the town did not actively respond.
“I decided I wanted to be part of the decision-making process that could have done something about it,” commented Gallamore.
Incumbent Councilor Justin Thompson feels voters should know he has learnt a great deal in the past four years, particularly the importance of infrastructure in promoting the growth of a community. Returning to town after his post secondary education, Thompson has been presented with many opportunities to be successful in his hometown, and being on council is one way to give back to the community.
“I seek to be able to offer a voice for the younger generation and the marginalized,” commented Thompson.
Justin has a 25 year vision for Vermilion, and is only on year four with the end of this term, so would like to stay on council and continue working on a number of projects he has been fortunate to be a part of.
“The first two years were really about learning and gaining a greater understanding of the role of Town Councils and the strengths and limitations they have. Despite the pandemic, the last two years have seen a number of successes, and I would like to continue with a proactive approachm,” explained Thompson.
If re-elected, Thompson would like to focus on a couple of things, including a long term financial and timeline plan regarding the replacement and maintenance of the existing infrastructure in Vermilion. Also, “I would like to see the town establish a more robust, fully realistic plan to start the construction of a field house and rebuild the beach.”
Kirby Whitlock is “very excited” to be running for Town Council this year, he wants to make a difference in the community, and feels that being on council will let him do that. He intends to work hard for taxpayers, and wants to contribute to the growth of the community. Whitlock wants residents to know he is here to listen to them and values their input on the subjects that matter to them. A third generation business owner in town, Whitlock enjoys volunteering in the community that he was born and raised in. Like all residents in the community, Whitlock has a personal investment in Vermilion successfully growing and getting stronger. Being on town council seemed the logical step for him to participate in some of the changes that need to happen for continued community growth. If elected, Whitlock would like to establish a stronger voice for the younger residents, plus at the same time attract more of that demographic to the area to stay, establish roots and raise their families. He would also like to look at ways to stabilize taxes, see further development and growth of the two industrial areas that have been started.
Erwin Warkentin wants people to know he values their contributions and insights into town issues, he is very open to learning from others who have maybe more experience and history with things Vermilion has dealt with over the years. He believes that thinking outside of the box is not always the best option, sometimes a practical Vermilion solution could be the best course of action.
“There are some very intelligent people in this community with lots of experience to educate me on things I am still learning about, and I am here to learn,” explained Warkentin.
He says he is very invested in the success of Vermilion, with a new family and his wife being the owner of an established local business, Warkentin is planting roots and wants to contribute to Vermilion’s growth. He wants voters to know he believes in fiscal transparency. An active Rotarian member, Erwin strives to follow Rotary International’s Four Way test in his everyday life, particularly the fourth point of ‘is it beneficial to all concerned?’ when thinking of community issues. Warkentin was encouraged to run for town council by several acquaintances, and found he had an interest in working with council and town administration together after attending several/numerous council meetings and having committee involvement. If elected, he has three areas he would like to focus on. Attraction and retention of services not offered in town, to promote not only staying local to meet the needs of townspeople, but also to attract others to town is something he is focused on. The establishment of a succession framework for local business owners for when they are ready to retire or need to pass their business on, is something he feels would help Vermilion’s continued economic development and stability. Finally, as an aviator, building on the airport’s economic contributions to the town’s growth is vitally important to Warkentin.
The second incumbent councilor eager to stay on to support Vermilion is Robert Pulyk. A Vermilion resident for 22 years, Robert and his wife have raised six children and have well-established volunteer roots on many levels in the community. They love living here, and Pulyk recognizes that it is a combination of volunteers, businesses, and all other organizations that make a community.
“It is a community that sets the direction a Town takes. It’s council’s role to support that direction through a strategic plan, advocating and seeking new economic opportunities,” explained Pulyk.
He says he is running again because he is passionate about the work he has done on council, and wants to see a few of the projects through to successful completion. He states that his experiences advocating for Vermilion have proven invaluable, and he would like to continue doing so for Vermilion’s continued successes. If re-elected, Pulyk will be focusing on several projects, including the broadband initiative (a passion of his), the continued development and enhancement of the town’s airport as an economic contributor to the towns growth, the future development of the North Brennan subdivision in particular inclusion of affordable housing, and focusing on the future recreational needs of the community identified in the Recreational Master Plan. Pulyk believes input/collaboration with the community on deciding the future location(s) and footprint of all of our recreational needs over the next 20 years is crucial in this planning.
Candidate Hayward Vaters enjoys meeting new people, and has not met anyone in Vermilion he hasn’t liked. A resident in Vermilion for seven years, Vaters likes the community and enjoys volunteering for local causes, including being a part of the Lion’s Club. He believes Vermilion is a great place already, and wants to help it get even better. Vaters feels that being a council member, he can help make a difference in the long term. He is hopeful that some of the decisions made in the next four years will have lasting impacts on Vermilion’s successes to come. As a senior in the community, he is hoping to represent that population, and give them some voice in community growth. Seniors have unique perspectives on life, and the specific needs of the older population needs to be included in town development. Vaters states he does not have a real agenda if elected, but would like to further contribute to developments around the Heritage Park, the airport, and local businesses.