|Three hoping to replace Barry McFarland|
|Local Content - Local News|
|Written by dave mabell|
|Thursday, 12 January 2012 16:33|
Three community leaders in southern Alberta are taking aim at provincial politics. After serving on town or county councils, they're hoping to become the Conservative candidate in the sprawling Little Bow constituency.
Coaldale Mayor Kim Craig, Lethbridge County deputy reeve Henry Doeve and former county councillor John Kolk have all announced they're running to succeed Barry McFarland.
After 20 years as MLA for Little Bow, and years before that on Vulcan County Council, McFarland told constituents late last month he won't be running again.
Doeve, a dairy producer in the Coaldale area, was among several contenders who'd talked about running if McFarland decided against another term.
"I announced my intention last March," Doeve says.
One of his major concerns, he says, is ensuring Alberta's MLAs realize agriculture remains a vital part of the province's economy. And in southern Alberta, more off-stream irrigation water storage must be built.
"The south doesn't have a strong voice," he says - but he'd speak up.
A high-profile member of county council, Doeve began his community service as a member of the county's subdivision appeal board. New residential developments and expanding feedlots were among its challenges, he recalls.
For Little Bow, he says today's challenges include providing safe highway access to Coalhurst. Doeve would rather see improvements to Highway 3, than premature construction of the proposed bypass north of Coalhurst, Lethbridge and Coaldale.
For Coaldale, he adds, the province must back the town's efforts to handle stormwater runoff effectively.
That runoff is certainly an issue for Craig, who'd also let party officials know he'd be ready to run.
"I've been saying that for the last year now," he confirms.
Craig, re-elected mayor by acclamation last fall, was first elected to town council seven years ago. An investment advisor, he's championed the idea of local fund-raising as a way to develop community projects faster.
But the town needs more industrial and commercial activity to expand its tax base, Craig says, and that's not likely until the stormwater issue is resolved.
Though he'd been active with the local Chamber of Commerce and hospital foundation, it wasn't until he was elected to town council he experienced the satisfaction of helping provide solutions to fellow residents' concerns.
"The more I got involved, the more I enjoyed it."
More recently, Craig has become chair of the Southern Alberta Energy-from-Waste Alliance, working on an initiative that will turn the region's waste into energy. He's also working with county officials to launch an integrated strategic plan for the transportation corridor west toward Lethbridge.
Now, Craig says, he has an opportunity to address issues at a higher level.
"I'd like to do the same kind of work for the people of southern Alberta."
That's also the goal for longtime county councillor Kolk, a livestock and irrigated crop producer in the Picture Butte area. He ran against McFarland for the PC nomination in 2007, coming within 40 votes of victory. Kolk has praised the MLA for his "work ethic and passion for issues important to him."
His own years on community and agricultural boards will enable him to continue that work, Kolk says. He claims "a broad understanding of the issues and concerns of the communities which make up the Little Bow riding."
He's currently chair of the Rural and Sustainability Committee of the Alberta Economic Development Authority, and also serves on the Alberta Water Council. In addition, Kolk is the ag rep for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, and he takes part in national policy development as a member of the Expert Panel on Water and Agriculture for the Council of Canadian Academies.
At the local level, Kolk serves as chair of Community Conflict Resolution Services and also volunteers as one of its mediators. Even closer to home, he's known for building an energy-conserving home out of bales of straw.
"We're in a changing environment," he says, both politically, and the way we're dealing with our resources and our environment.
Little Bow's constituency executive hasn't yet announced when nominations will close. But Alberta PC officials expect all ridings to have nominated candidates by the end of January.