Morinville – Former Councillor Joseph Trapani will be running for a Council seat in the 2013 election. A resident of Morinville since 1996, Trapani is a widower with two children, Jessica 23 and Christopher 22. Trapani was first elected to Council by acclamation in 2007. He lost his mayoral bid against incumbent Lloyd Bertschi in 2010 by a 141-vote margin.
Trapani said he believes those who run for office should do so for the good of the town and not for their own agenda or future political ambitions. “You have to love and care about the Town of Morinville and not be afraid to tell the world that you are from Morinville and are proud of it,” Trapani said. “Be a candidate because you care and not because it would look good on your resume.”
Trapani said residents are not numbers to be counted by ballot; they are normal everyday people who should be treated with respect and honesty. That treatment requires elected officials to do their job by attending meetings and committee meetings. Above all, it means being ready for Council meetings by reading the complete Council Package.”
“Do you think the present Councillors are leaders?” Trapani said. “Actions not words create a great community. Have we seen any actions yet to really brag about from the Councillors in power now? They couldn’t even pick an interim leader, and they want to continue leading our community. They should shake their heads and maybe they might see that this is not what they’ve been elected for and just resign from future Council.”
Issues at hand
Trapani said changes are needed; however, he sees the making of decisions that affect the residents of Morinville either by using their money or their future welfare as one that must be done carefully. “The community looks at you to have the facts straight and that you did your homework prior to the meeting not at the meeting,” he said. “We must all remember that Council are the stewards of the Town’s funds.
He said there are many issues at hand that are a concern to residents: the placement of photo radar, the need for more recreational facilities and businesses in town, what to do with youth, utilities and services offered by the Town, the delay on Cardiff corner, and the rising cost and size of Town staffing, the latter an issue Trapani said is the biggest concern he hears about.
The candidate said little has been accomplished on the issues over the past term beyond talk from Council and their consultants. He has spent considerable time thinking about the issues and coming up with solutions for them. “We need direction on what should be or not be done,” he said. “It is time that we walk the talk.”
Trapani said he believes photo radar should stay in place and that Morinville would not be collecting millions in revenue if people would simply stop breaking the law. “The problem with the present system is that the company running the photo radar gets a percentage of the fine, and so does the Town and the province,” he said. “The more fines they collect or speeders they catch, the more money they make. That could maybe be called a cash cow by opportunity.”
The former councillor said the debate should be on where photo radar should be placed and whether Morinville should run the program through its own staff. “I am in favour in placing them in school zones during school hours, on heavy travelled roads at the half way point, not just before you can double your speed in 50 metres or less,” he said, adding proceeds from photo radar should be earmarked for funding special projects and not placed in general revenues.
Trapani sees taxes as something the next Council needs to be concerned about, but discredits those who would promise to lower them. “Any person who tells you that taxes will not increase or be lowered or will be kept the same is dreaming and is lying to you,” he said, adding residential tax bills are made up of three parts: municipal taxes the Town levies, school taxes levied by the province, and a requisition from the Sturgeon Foundation, the latter two chunks beyond the Town’s control. ”Mayor and councillors need to think in line with what we need [as a community] and not what will look nice to have. Can we afford it at this time – or better yet, will residents see the hike in their taxes worth the cause?”
One of the items that could generate a tax hike is additional recreation facilities. Trapani said he sees recreation as greater than a new building. “Some residents might think that recreational facilities are actually a building; this is true to a certain point,” he said, adding recreation is also what people do for leisure. “We are at a point that we need to replace the existing arena [and] curling rink. Do we build a multi-plex with a double arena, curling rink, assorted courts for basketball, and indoor soccer, or do we just upgrade [and] fix what we have?”
The bottom line for Trapani is money. He believes the next Council should look at their Recreation Agreement and Memo of Understanding with Sturgeon County and see how the two municipalities can work together to build a proper facility for the community.
Trapani, who sits on the Morinville Public Library Board said he would also like to see funding in place so that every household in Morinville received a free family library membership.
The former and future candidate sees looking after youth as more than providing them with a new rink and a free library card, but he believes the claims of a lack of things for youth to do is subjective.
Trapani said parents and youth need to shoulder some of the responsibility for overcoming youth boredom, either by investigating what the community offers for youth or talking directly to Council about what is lacking.
He sees programs run by the Youth Centre, Morinville Community Library and Town of Morinville’s Community Services Departments as solid offerings, particularly when combined with public offerings in sports, music and art.
“Some youth just want to stay at home and play video games,” he said, adding he and his family donated the latest console machines to the library so youth could play there on the big screen TV. While wanting to help offer a safe gathering place for youth, he does not see hanging out as necessarily a bad thing. “There are youth who just like or want to hang around with friends, laughing at stuff, talking about stuff that they don’t what their parents to know about. Just because youth are out in a crowd does not mean that they are up to no good.”
Trapani said the Town needs to hire a Youth Coordinator to plan events and make sure residents are aware of the activities that are planned. [“We can’t just] put out an activities book that most parents don’t read,” he said.
Skills on the table
Trapani served in the military for more than two decades as an administration and spent 10 years after his retirement as a Town Manager for several municipalities. He also ran his own travel business for a number of years. During his time on Council from 2007 to 2010, Trapani was part of the Budget Committee, Morinville Public Library Board, Northern Lights Library System’s Board and Executive Board, and sat on the Town of Morinville’s Assessment Review Board.
The candidate cites his leadership style of listening and then reacting to what has been said as a needed asset on Council, one that combines well with his desire to be more proactive than reactive.