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Ponoka council candidate profiles

Rick Bonnett

Age: 44

Occupation: Dispatcher with Calnash Trucking Ltd.

Marital status, family: Married to Cindy Bonnett (nee Stewart) a registered nurse at the Ponoka General Hospital. Two daughters: Paige,15 and Brooke,13.

Community involvement: “I have served on various boards from Ponoka Feeders Association, Alberta beef producers. I coach softball and referee minor hockey in spare time. I also am still very active playing hockey in winter, and enjoy all outdoor activities in the summers.”

Why are you running for town council? I believe there needs to be a change in attitude towards economic growth, and more co-operation between town and county council. I also want to see more openness in affairs dealing with our own citizens on problems that have been festering in our community for many years. I believe we need new fresh people with new and innovative ideas to lead Ponoka, into the next growth cycle. Our community needs economic growth in order to be sustainable into the future.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? I believe there is a life cycle for councillors and that after two or three terms, they either need to take that next step forward and run for mayor, or move out. I will bring fresh ideas and a positive approach to council and the community in order to make this a community our kids will want to call home forever.”

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? “The number 1 issue is economic growth and improvement of recreation facilities, so as to attract new business and new families to the Ponoka area. We need to foster a spirit of cooperation between community groups and town and county councils in these areas in order to benefit all of the area citizens.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the Town of Ponoka? “As we all get older we still need to remain active, and due to our climate this can be a challenge. I believe we need to work with community groups, county council and businesses and the school boards for a way to facilitate an indoor field house with a walking track, for youth and seniors alike. It will attract people to town and surrounding area to improve the quality of life for the citizens of our community.”

Drew Dougherty

Age: 48

Occupation: “I currently manage the NAPA Auto Parts store. I moved to Ponoka in 1977 with my parents when they opened the UAP Auto Parts store. I started working part-time after school so I have worked at, owned or managed the store ever since.”

Marital status, family: “I am married to Shirley for nearly 23 years. We have two boys Dugan and Tucker.”

Community involvement: “I have been involved in different community activities and projects over the years. I worked with the senior hockey team as trainer. I was on the board of the Ponoka Community Golf Club and was president and chair of the clubhouse expansion committee. I have been on the board of Ponoka Minor Hockey, Soccer and the Gators swim club. I have volunteered my time for many other things including coaching and managing my boys sports teams. Our two boys have played lacrosse in Red Deer for the past several years and my wife and I have been extremely involved in that.”

Why are you running for town council? “I truly enjoy serving on council and am committed to continue to do my best to represent the needs and wishes of the citizens of the Town of Ponoka. By using the things I have learned in my time on council I will strive to make Ponoka a better place to live and do business.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “I have been involved in many different roles in town over my years and feel I add a useful insight into the affairs and activities within the Town of Ponoka. I believe I have done a good job on council over the past three years and know I am ready to be even better in the next term. The job of councilor is actually very intriguing and I truly enjoy it. I am always well prepared for meetings very seldom have missed any in the past three years.”

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? “Probably the biggest issue right now is completing annexation. Annexation gives the Town of Ponoka the ability to logically plan for its future growth. Ponoka also has an aging building Infrastructure that needs to attend to in the near future. Renovations at the arena are an excellent first step. We need to rebuild our relationship with Ponoka County they are important to the operation and hopefully renovation of many of our facilities including library, arena, pool and fire department.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the Town of Ponoka? “The Town of Ponoka needs to re-establish its Senior Friendly designation by making sure all local businesses are aware of the program. Ponoka needs to continue improving our recycling program keeping compostables and recyclables out of the waste stream. Ponoka needs to keep maintaining its existing facilities including trails, parks and sports fields. Ponoka needs to attract more small and large business. Ponoka needs to continue to update underground infrastructure and the sidewalk replacement program is excellent.”

Doug Gill

Age: 64

Occupation: retired school administrator and teacher, a wellness home consultant for Nikken.

Marital status, family: married (Shirley), two adult children, four grandchildren

Community involvement: “I have lived in Ponoka for 40 years. For 29 of those years I was an administrator/teacher, coach, service club member, and Scout leader. My community involvement at present consists of serving on town council and volunteering for various community groups.”

Why are you running for town council? “I am running for office because I can provide the leadership and direction Ponoka needs to move forward. I want to emphasize to positive aspects of Ponoka and represent all citizens.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “I have the skill set to provide leadership, planning, and a fresh perspective. I have a good understanding of the needs of our community. I am a team player, an effective communicator, and open minded.”

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? “We have to work on the image of Ponoka. If Ponoka is going to continue growing I believe Economic Development is an important issue. Providing timely accurate information to citizens needs to be addressed. We also must work at developing improved relationships with our Ponoka County counterparts. New initiatives and developments must show environmental responsibility.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the Town of Ponoka? “The quality of life is really quite good at present. As community leaders we must ensure that development addresses social, cultural, and environmental Issues in addition to economic. Council must work at maintaining the level of services.”

Loanna Gulka

Age: 38

Occupation: retail clerk, professional chef, and mother

Marital status, family: Married with two girls (14 and six years old)

Community involvement: Hockey and soccer mom

Why are you running for town council? “I have been to council meetings in Ponoka and in various other towns and cities across the province and found ours very unapproachable and closed-minded. I feel council needs a fresh face with unbiased views and an open door policy.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “I will use a quote from Paul Bryant a Hall Of Fame college football coach " When you make a mistake there are only three things you should ever do about it: Admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it." I feel the current councilors running for office fail this on all parts. As for the new candidates running I have no information on them…I will be listening to see where they stand on issues so I cannot tell you why some one should put me ahead of the others. That would be irresponsible of me.

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? I believe growth. I was raised in St Albert and moved to Ponoka from Stony Plain and both municipalities were forward thinking. They held tight to their core values and built up from there. Ponoka for whatever reason has failed to grow anything significant in the last 35 years, missing two booms in the market. The economy is on the mend and an upswing is around the corner. Is Ponoka ready or are we going to stand-by yet again. I know all towns must annex to grow but they also must keep existing neighborhoods vibrant and welcoming to not only attract business but families as well.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the Town of Ponoka? “I would like to adopt a slogan from one of our prominent companies in town EnCana “Courtesy Matters.” They go the extra mile to listen to resident concerns and strive to accomplish goals whether it is in safety, environment or policy. I do have several thoughts on unfinished developments, derelict buildings, photo radar, road conditions and high taxes. I hope to get as many of my brochures out to the public with a small biography and a few of my views but please go out and vote for whom ever you feel will best represent you.”

Beva Hamilton

Age: 56

Occupation: Registered nurse working part-time at Red Deer Regional Hospital and casual at Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre, and I am involved in the operation of a long term Ponoka family based business, Hamilton's IGA

Marital status, family: Married, husband: Jim Hamilton. two grown children, two grown stepchildren, and one grandchild.

Community involvement: Past community involvement: (partial list): advisor for Community Senior Centre- Colbert, Okla.; county chair for Girl Scouts of America; treasurer/secretary/chaperone for "Pride of Durant "marching band, Durant, Okla.; Bryan County co-ordinator of "Baby Think It Over Program"; director of Texoma Jr. Rodeo Assoc., Oklahoma Jr. Rodeo Assoc., Texas High School Rodeo Assoc.; director of finance committee - SE Oklahoma Methodist Churches; many volunteer positions in Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraisers; Ponoka Kinsmen Million Dollar Golf Classic; Anglican Church Booth Volunteer at Ponoka Stampede

Why are you running for town council? “I strongly adhere to the notion that I should be involved and serve the community of which I live. I have always had an active interest in politics, as evidenced by my position as a State Voting Primary Delegate for the US presidential nomination. I believe I have the leadership skills that would lend well to town council. I understand and have extensive past work experience in the formulation and implementation of operational and capital budgets at a corporate level.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “My agenda is to serve the best interest of all the people of Ponoka. I am a new perspective. I can give a new set of ears to listen to the people and a new voice for this community.”

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? “Sustainable business growth in Ponoka. Provide employment opportunities that would encourage individuals and families to move to Ponoka; thus broadening our tax base to subsidize future town improvements; improve and expand senior facilities by working with the provincial and federal governments to enable expansion of the current facilities and funding for more available long term care beds; communication by the citizens to the town council: I personally, would implement my own councillor Internet web page as an avenue to voice concerns; review and analyze the current sporting facilities, assessing their utilization, up keep, need for expansion and how else could they serve the community such as the possibility of an indoor walking venue for citizens.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the Town of Ponoka? “I would look to the future for Ponoka, we need employment opportunities, business and services expansion, to foster people to come here, and our young people to stay and be part of a vibrant community.”

Julian Hudson

Age: 52

Occupation: Proprietor

Marital status, family: Married, five children

Community involvement: “I have been on the board of the following community-based organizations: Ponoka Trail Committee since 2003, Ponoka Neighborhood Place from 2000-2006, board member for the Ponoka Soccer Association (2010), Maskwacis Violence Intervention and Prevention Society (2009-present), treasurer

I have also done volunteer work for these organizations: co-leader for Alberta Health Services of their Paddle Your Own Canoe program; assistant coach for Ponoka boys’ soccer from 2008-2010; chairman for the substitute teachers of Wolf Creek Teachers Local ATA No.3 (1999-2001)”

Why are you running for town council? “First I would like to say that I see being a member of town council as a continuation of my previous volunteer work as a board member for the above organizations but on a bigger scale. Secondly I am a firm believer in the idea that in a democracy citizens need to be involved with participating in the institutions that govern them. I would also like to be involved with bringing more businesses to our town so that we can expand our economic base and decrease the dependence of our local economy on Alberta Health Services, agriculture, and the oil industry.

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “The reasons to choose me, instead of my opponents are: I see the problems on 38th Street as being deeper than being a problem with the levy amount that they are being charged. I believe that the whole concept of, "Local Area Development," while being politically brilliant is ethically wrong and damaging to the body politic. The old town Council has not only become insular and has now closed ranks in order to work against its own citizens; their past decisions have boxed them into a corner from which there is no escape. Whereas I am not misguidedly wedded to flawed reasoning that maintains the “old way of doing things” based upon the argument that "that is the way it was for me." Nor do I have any personal social ties to fellow council members that would compromise my ability to see town problems clearly.”

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? “Establishment of a fair, and easily understood policy for funding town infrastructure. Moving away from a small town mentality to one that acknowledges that Ponoka is no longer the small town it once was.”

John Jacobs

Age: 52

Occupation: Semi-retired

Marital status, family: Married 20 years to wife, Ada. Son, Andrew, Grade 12. daughter, Emily, Grade 9

Community involvement: “Coach for rec hockey, in-school mentor, trail development and in the past involved with the library board and Ponoka Soccer Association.”

Why are you running for town council? “To continue building a better community but at the same time trying to keep taxes as low as possible.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “I have the time, knowledge and experience that some of the other candidates may not have.”

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? “Working within a tight budget trying to give people the services and amenities they want.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the Town of Ponoka? “By continuing to work as a team member with council, administration and the public to address the many concerns of the citizens of Ponoka.”

David McPherson

Age: 52

Occupation: Work program at Rising Sun Clubhouse

Marital status, family: Single

Community involvement: None

Why are you running for town council: “I want change to happen in our community, and by running I could bring about change.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “Because I am trying to be a voice.”

What are the most important issues facing the community? “Bringing jobs to our community and attracting new residents.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the community? “Promoting the community spirit of Ponoka, making it a good place to raise a family and keeping the reputation of having a good quality of life and being a safe community.”

James Nakoneshny

Age: 43

Occupation: Sales representative for Frito Lay Canada

Marital status, family: Happily married with two children whom I am very proud of.

Community involvement: I am currently not involved in any local organizations, however I do donate product to some local organizations.

Why are you running for town council? “I see a need for leadership on town council. I see a need for someone who has business experience and is not afraid to work hard with the citizens and businesses to provide Economic stability and growth for Ponoka.

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “I am open and honest. I have over 20 year’s business experience. I have previous council experience. I believe in setting goals and achieving those goals. I believe in accountability and will be there to work for and with the citizens and businesses of Ponoka. I will always give my best!

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? “Ponoka needs economic growth and stability. I believe in having a vision and planning for the future. Ponoka cannot sit idle any longer. We need to get industry, businesses and housing. We need to make sure we are constantly maintaining and always trying to better our protective services, medical services and seniors’ housing and lodging. We must be prepared for the future.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the Town of Ponoka? “Ponoka needs to grow. My commitment is to obtain more industry, businesses and housing. Through growth we can provide more services and jobs, while keeping taxes lower. Every citizen will benefit from growth. The citizens, businesses and town must have a common vision and set goals as to where we need to be five, 10 and 25 years from now.”

Jerry Siemens

Age: 50

Occupation: Habitat management technician

Marital status, family: Married 28 years to Doreen. Two married daughters and three grandchildren.

Community involvement: “Former Lions Club member coached and umpired minor ball, bingo association board member and have assisted other volunteer organizations.”

Why are you running for town council? “Ponoka is my home and I am passionate about seeing this community move forward and thrive. I want Ponoka to be a great place for the next generation to live and work as well as a safe, comfortable town in which to retire.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “I believe I possess the experience, skills and determination to prepare for and embrace our future.”

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? “Stimulating sustainable, healthy and sensible business, residential and industrial growth.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the Town of Ponoka? “By ensuring that our residents have better access to necessary municipal services, recreational facilities and the highest level of protective an police service that we can reasonably provide.”

Jack Surbey

Age: 58

Occupation: housing contractor

Marital status, family: “Married to Norma. We have a daughter Kelly and son-in-law Jason and four grandchildren.”

Community involvement: “Current councillor, president of JJ. Collett Nature Area Foundation. I enjoy working for our community and making it a better place to live.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “I will work hard to keep the best interests of the entire population when making my council decisions.”

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? “Infrastructure upgrades, downtown revitalization, annexation, more Industrial land development.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the Town of Ponoka? “I would try to keep our taxes reasonable and sustain our current services offered by the town. I would try to maintain and improve our recreational facilities, museum and library.”

Izak Van der Westhuizen

Age: 41

Occupation: Family physician

Marital status, family: Married to Minette, two kids: Lisa 12 and Rian, 10.

Community involvement: “Providing a full scope of primary healthcare in the community, medical examiner, supporting local sporting facilities and businesses.

Why are you running for town council? “To give back to the community who has embraced my family and me for over 10 years.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents? “My agenda is purely to serve the best interests of all residents. To encourage open communication between town council, administration and taxpayers. To restore trust.”

What are the most important issues facing the Town of Ponoka? “To restore sustainable economic growth that will make Ponoka an attractive place for all ages to live.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the Town of Ponoka? “In order to stimulate growing residential opportunities, for all ages, I will encourage economic growth, which in turn requires maintenance of infrastructure and growth in recreational facilities.”