Within the County of Vermilion River, seven people are running for positions on the County Council. Divisions four, five and seven will have candidates on the ballot on October 18.
The contenders took a few minutes to answer three questions and get their message out to the voters.
Candidates were asked three questions:
What do you want voters to know about you when they go to vote on October 18?
Why did you choose to run for County Councillor?
If elected, what is something you would like to see accomplished in your four-year term?
Division 4 has three nominees, Lonnie Wolgien, the incumbent wants voters to know that he has lived in the County of Vermilion River for 25 plus years and raised a family of three boys, who are now on their own. Wolgien’s experience within the agricultural industry includes 25 years in the grain and agro-business and today he, his wife and one son currently operate a bale hauling business along with a small farming operation, south of Vermilion.
“With this, I feel that I have a good understanding of the importance of the county infrastructure, financial needs and future planning required to serve future generations of residents in the County of Vermilion River,” commented Wolgien.
Wolgien decided to stay on as councillor for another term on the basis that he can see further improvements within the infrastructure and the importance of this to agriculture and to the county Hamlets.
“There are large challenges coming forward with the loss of revenue from our oil industry, our Provincial and Federal governments reducing funding to the municipal governments,” stated Lonnie, “this is a challenge I look forward to while keeping tax increases to a minimum.”
If re-elected Wolgien would like to see the completion of the Road Rehabilitation Project (it is currently in year 2 of the 5-year plan). In the next term, he also plans to assist in the planning and development of the County Fire Services to improve resident safety along with their properties. Last but not least, Wolgien would like to see the completion of the Freshwater Project supplying water to Islay, Dewberry and Clandonald.
Wolgien commented that, “Due to COVID I will not be going door-to-door campaigning, I don't know what residents thoughts on the risks of further spreading phase 4 COVID. Please feel free to contact me via phone (780-787-4991) or email (email@example.com).”
George Kuneff is also running for Councillor in Division 4, and wants to make sure voters know that he intends to work hard to represent the residents in his community, while being responsible with taxpayers money. George says he is passionate about the County, with 24 years of employment with them, he has kept abreast of the concerns and issues that County residents face.
“I want to see both the gas and oil and agricultural industries do well in the area,” states Kuneff.
He is running as he saw Councillor as the, “opportunity to represent my community and be the voice they need,” he declared.
Kuneff discussed that county politics can affect people’s daily lives, and he intends to follow the majority of his constituents' needs and wants on issues if elected. The needs for road improvements will be a focus of Kuneff’s, particularly the arterial roads in all the communities. He will also focus on how tax dollars are spent, and if there is a way to curb tax increases in the county.
Murray Brown feels his career as an electrician in the County area and being a member of Vermilion’s Fire Department for 16 years has exposed him to the concerns and cares of all divisions in the County, not just Division 4. He wants voters to know he is a straightforward person, who believes in, “saying what you mean and meaning what you say,” and states that, “If I can’t answer a question, I will do the work to find out the answer.”
Brown believes there is a disconnect between the County and the communities in it, which was his motivation to run for council. He wants to be a part of the process in steering the County to grow and expand in the future.
“Community involvement is so important to growth,” states Brown, “and if elected I want to enhance cooperation and collaborative communication between the county and the towns they deal with, including Lloydminster.” He will strive to see enhancements and improvements in this area.
Jason Stelmaschuk, incumbent for Division 5 wants voters to know that he believes in leading by serving, he was elected four years ago to serve his division, and listen and collaborate with his ratepayers and fellow Councillors to make the best decisions possible for the County’s residents. He feels that his previous employment experiences in finance, municipal government, oil and agriculture provided a wide range of skills that he has drawn upon to be the best candidate for the job.
“There have been so many positive changes and improvements in the four-year term. I have a great team of council and staff who share the same vision as I do and see the same opportunities to further improve, develop and strenghten the County of Vermilion River,” stated Stelmaschuk.
If re-elected, Stelmaschuk will focus on the continuation of road improvements, and some drainage concerns in the division, particularly in the Blackfoot area. He is presently proactive with the economic development initiative, and wants to continue working on that. He is wanting to reduce the red tape for development to retain and attract new growth while focusing on the current business entrepreneurs in the community. Stemaschuk stated the best way to achieve this goal is with consultation and collaboration with the business leaders throughout the County.
Running against Stelmaschuk is Jacob Mohrbutter. Mohrbutter wants voters to know that he believes smart decisions need to be made in the county, and the community needs a strong voice to be heard.
“I am very invested in the community and want to be involved and give a voice to the residents,” declared Jacob.
If elected, Mohrbutter would like to work on getting more local production businesses in the area, such as greenhouses, meat processing services to enhance local small business markets.
“Let’s encourage and support these businesses to start in the area,” states Mohrbutter, “let’s sell the county as a place to grow a business.”
Mohrbutter believes the county is well taken care of, and wants to work to maintain this level of quality. He feels that it is important that the County be smart about how it spends the money in the budget. His slogan is “A voice for efficient cost-effective growth.”
In Division 7 incumbent Leslie Cusack commented that the first term provided learning every day, and he knows that the councillors working together is what gets things accomplished. He believes his experience of the previous four years will help him in a second term. He wants to make sure voters know he is reachable, if they have concerns, he is ready to listen and address them on behalf of the constituents. Born and raised in the area, Cusack is an avid community volunteer. If re-elected, he would like to finish the work that has been done to attract urbanites who are looking for a change to the rural municipalities.
“I am proud to live in a rural hamlet, and want people to enjoy Clandonald and Dewberry.” stated Cusack.
For the next four years, he will focus on the roads in the County that will be utilized by the oil companies in the area, and their upkeep and maintenance by the companies.
“We need to keep on them to keep them in usable conditions,” Cusack says.
He also wants to focus on educating constituents on rural crime prevention for everyone’s safety.