Retired teacher Kevin Ferguson has taken his first step into municipal politics with the hope of giving back to the community.
He has lived in Ponoka for the last 40 years and has spent the last 30 as a teacher, 20 of those in Ponoka. He and his wife chose Ponoka as an ideal place to raise their children.
Ferguson said it’s been the last few years that he thought about running for office and now that he’s retired from teaching he feels he has the time to make it happen. Ferguson is also known for his work with the Klaglahachie Fine Arts Society having directed the last few plays showcased at the United Church.
There are three main pieces to his campaign with the first being to revisit the discussion of fire departments with Ponoka County. Going further into that, Ferguson feels there are two side issues. “First of all, I think the relationship with the county has been harmed because of the fire hall.”
He wants to rehabilitate the relationship with the two municipalities. “That, I think may be even more important in the end than the fire hall because we have to protect our relationship with them,” said Ferguson.
The second issue with the fire hall is the need to rebuild town council’s reputation with the residents. He said looking back at the town council minutes over the years there is a consistent 4-3 split vote. While there may not always be consensus with councillors, seeing the obvious split doesn’t appear healthy.
The second part of his platform relates to revitalizing the town as a whole.
Ferguson suggests the town has to move forward. With being close to Highway 2 it can be difficult to keep people in the community shopping. He feels there’s a way to take advantage of the town’s close proximity to the highway and bring people here based on some interesting features within Ponoka, such as the Ponoka Golf Club.
He feels there may be a way to network with local businesses that have seen some success over the years and to learn from their experience.
Ferguson’s third piece to his campaign is to look at seeing ways to improve town services. He suggests there may be things to look at that will improve those services for residents.
Looking at budget issues, Ferguson said he has a strong understanding of public budgets having followed them in his teaching career. There’s many opportunities with a budget.
“Budgets fail, not because people can’t do math. Budgets fail because people cannot prioritize,” said Ferguson.
He added that sometimes people can get blinded by one issue in a budget. Regardless of the type of budget, there’s never enough money, said Ferguson, offering that it’s how one prioritizes the dollars.
“What you need to do is you need to do what’s best for the town,” he said.
When it comes to tax increases, Ferguson suggests those in charge of the budget need to make sure everything has been looked at before putting in an increase. That being said, keeping taxes low isn’t necessarily a good thing.
“You cannot operate on the assumption that, ‘Let’s keep things static,’” said Ferguson.
“What really lowers taxes in the end is when you attract business to your town. When you attract people to your town.”
He pointed out that if people leave the community because there is no growth then that tax base will become smaller. Infrastructure costs and needs will remain but with less money to take care of them, he added.
“My main focus and goal will always be, what can we do to make Ponoka a better community for all of us?” said Ferguson.