Council hopefuls raise diverse issues

Economic development, job creation, downtown core revitalization, and a broadened tax base are some of their shared goals.

Former councillor Susan Johnston is challenging Mayor Laurie French for Hope’s top job in November’s municipal  election.

Johnston held a seat on council for nine years before deciding not to run in the 2008 race.

She wanted to take the last term off in order to gain a new perspective and prepare for this election.

“I wasn’t feeling good about running for mayor until I took that time to reintegrate back into the community and find out exactly what’s wrong and what people want,” she said.

“When you’re behind the table as mayor and council, sometimes you get a little jaded and you don’t really get what’s happening in your community and get kind of tunnel-vision.”

Johnston’s main priorities are attracting industry, creating jobs and fostering economic development. She also supports introducing incentives to encourage people to shop locally.

Johnston is joined by five other newcomers who are vying for a seat at the council table.

The candidates are Gerry Dyble, Robert Haley, Cindy Koszegi, Walter Rawlinson and Dan Williams.

Economic development, job creation, downtown core revitalization, and a broadened tax base are some of their shared goals.

Dyble, who is currently the executive director of the Hope and Area Transition Society, feels the municipality is lacking vision.

“You can’t bring business to Hope unless you have a viable, sustainable community which includes looking at the economy, society and environment,” said Dyble.

“No one is going to move to Hope if you don’t have infrastructure in place to deal with your social issues.”

If elected, she would lobby provincial and federal governments for more funding of programs in Hope.

In addition, Dyble would like to increase tourism opportunities through ideas such as guided walking tours.

Williams agrees that Hope needs to economically and socially develop. His focus is on containing costs, examining current priorities and defining future goals for the community.

“Besides tourism, we don’t have a lot going on,” said Williams, who works as a traffic consultant.

“Hope is in a real transitional period at the moment. I don’t think we really understand what it is we want to do and we need some form of strategies that walk us through this over different time spans.”

Rawlinson would use his business development experience to create manufacturing jobs in Hope. He supports having some land along Flood Hope Road removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve in order to accommodate industry.

“I’m concerned about the business environment in Hope and I’m concerned about Hope shrinking,” he said. “In the long-term, we need to bring some sort of manufacturing back to Hope. Each manufacturing job supports about three retail jobs.”

Rawlinson is also a Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses candidate, whereby he’s pledged to property tax fairness, reasonable spending, and openness and accountability.

Koszegi, who has worked as an optician for 24 years, said economic development is essential to creating a sustainable community.

She feels Hope needs to be marketed as a desirable and affordable location for responsible industrial development and home ownership.

Pollution is the driving issue prompting Robert Haley to run for council this year. He believes Hope needs to become more self-sufficient and better prepared for emergencies.

Haley said people need to be growing their own food, making their own clothes and shoes.

“We need a new kind of economy because the old one requires that we kill ourselves,” he said.

“We’re killing our children and killing ourselves afterwards.”