Town of Ponoka councillor Teri Underhill is running for a second term of office.
She has always said if she doesn’t feel like she got enough accomplished she would run again. “I think we have so much going on…I think we need a continuation of that.”
Her main priority in this campaign will be working with Ponoka County. Municipal Affairs has been clear about communities working together; if they don’t grant funding will be harder to come by, she explained.
“It has to be a new beginning. Start fresh and figure out a way to make it work,” said Underhill.
She takes no issue with municipalities having different needs but argues that doesn’t mean they can’t work together on mutually beneficial projects.
Another area of focus for Underhill will be in recreation and expansion of Ponoka. “Recreation is huge because you can’t grow a municipality without that.”
“We have to stop working in our silos and work together with other groups.”
For her, being a councillor means trying to do the best for Ponoka.
Underhill suggests recreation groups can join forces but also businesses and community groups can collaborate to ensure areas like Ponoka’s downtown can grow.
A prime example of how busy things are is the development at the Ponoka Industrial Airport. Over the last four years it has seen some movement afoot and she wants to see lots being sold to pilots or businesses.
A big lesson for Underhill in the last four years is the need for patience. She offered some advice to prospective candidates in that change takes time, especially when it comes to municipal politics. Despite those challenges she feels diligence is key.
“I think that’s my humblest moment. That nothing changes quickly,” said Underhill.
An area she feels residents are going to have to take into consideration is that taxes are going to be an important part of future of Ponoka. Raising taxes for targeted projects may be needed to ensure more families come to the community, which in turn increases the tax base.
The last four years has seen some positive growth, and some uphill battles. When asked about council unity and challenges of working together, Underhill replied that unity is paramount. This is why council pushed administration to create a learning process for potential candidates.
Indeed, a special information night is set for Sept. 7 at the Kinsmen Community Centre from 7 to 9 p.m.
Underhill says that is a first step to ensuring a unified council. The next step would be in team building exercises. “People have to put their personal feelings aside.”
She suggests if that occurs, and council is consistent with its unity building, then this next council will be able to work together.
“I think it’s all about making people feel comfortable and safe,” said Underhill.
When it comes to important town decisions, Underhill says she takes no issue with passionate discourse or disagreements. It’s being able to speak up, make a decision and then move on.
“We have to be able to talk out decisions that are controversial,” she explained.
Nomination day is Sept. 18 and the general election will happen on Oct. 16.