School board trustee Jess runs for county

Already acclaimed as the ward 2 (Ponoka) Wolf Creek Public Schools board trustee, long-time Ponoka County resident, Lorrie Jess, is seeking

Already acclaimed as the ward 2 (Ponoka) Wolf Creek Public Schools board trustee, long-time Ponoka County resident, Lorrie Jess, is seeking first time election to Ponoka County council, division 2.

As she still has one child in school, Jess felt her job as a trustee wasn’t done. “Politics gets in your blood. I want to see that (Ponoka Secondary Campus) done.”

“And I’m still learning, that’s the big thing. If I become stagnant I think it’ll be time to bow out,” she added.

Jess thought about running for county council three years ago at the 2010 election.

Part of the reason Jess didn’t run in 2010 is division 2 councillor Gawney Hinkley and another friendly acquaintance was running. “It’s respect, total respect. I can’t say anything bad about Gawney.”

“But this time, like I said, I think it’s time for change. I don’t have any major issues, I don’t have any big problems with the county and I don’t have an ax to grind. I just think it’s time for a change there.

Those three years it took to fully commit to the decision didn’t stop the butterflies on nomination day, but Jess is an avid believer in supporting her community and county and wants to be a part of providing its future.

Jess has been a resident of the county for the majority of her life, leaving only for college, time spent in Europe and one and a half years spent living above her bookstore.

“I’ve always lived on the farm I was born and raised on. Ponoka County’s my home and the farm is my little bit of heaven,” she explained.

Jess feels her time spent on the school board will benefit her if she’s elected as a councillor. She was board chair for two years, vice chair for four years and this year was appointed chair of the negotiating committee for school board and its dealings with the Alberta Teachers Association. “I know what a well-run meeting looks like.”

“I get it, if you’re elected as a county councillor I’m not just representing the people in division 2 I’m representing the entire county,” she added.

While Jess expects a steep learning curve, she won’t shy away from the prospect and is reviewing county minutes, reading up on the bylaws and researching acronyms — to aid in the forum and other meeting.

“So that when people are talking to me about that I’m not lost,” she explained.

Jess remembers when she first put her name in for school board and didn’t fully prepare. “They were speaking in a foreign language, it was all acronyms.”

To her, proper preparation is about the research.

“I’m not afraid to say I don’t know something but I’m willing to learn.”

With few major problems in the recent past, Ponoka County council has moved through its duties with grace.

However, there are issues dug up by progress the new council will have to face.

When it comes to balancing acreage subdivision development and maintaining farmland, Jess feels listening and rational thinking is the best way to go. “I have to be respectful, not that I would want it to stop.”

For Jess it’s about the location of the land. “You just have to look at where the land is, where it’s situated, and the quality of the land. It’s great rich farming soil that we have in central Alberta. I mean, this is God’s country.”

Jess is also aware of the recent upheaval in council regarding Rimoka and council’s disagreement over Bethany Group.

Falling back on her strong ideas, Jess says listening and rational thinking will see council through this situation too.

“The truth usually comes out I find,” said Jess.

“It’s not fair to the residents . . . It’s their home,” she added.

For Jess the new term length didn’t faze her, and with her bookstore closing at the end of this year she says she’ll have plenty of time to devote to both positions.

“If I can be on the school board — a school trustee — raise three as a single parent, and run a business surely to God I can be on the school board and county council,” said Jess.