by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent
In a last minute decision, Morinville resident Neil McDougall decided to include his name on the ballot for the upcoming municipal election. “I found out as late as [the Saturday before Nomination Day] that only six people were likely going to run for the six [councillor] positions that were available,” he explained. “…I think the people of Morinville deserve to have a choice, rather than simply having Council established by acclamation…Though there’s not a lot to choose from, at least now people will still get to have a bit of a choice.”
McDougall said that he’s always been service minded and that he is a busy volunteer in the community; he’s lived in Morinville for eight years. His family and friends, he said, are supportive of his decision to enter into local politics.
Though he is now retired, McDougall spent over three decades in sales and as an account manager with the (now defunct) phone company, AGT. “I have a long history of maintaining relationships,” he said, “and a big part of doing that is responding to the changing needs of people.” He also has experience in property management and has worked in maintenance as well.
The candidate is a busy volunteer and a member of three service clubs in Town: the Lions Club, the Royal Canadian Legion, and the Morinville Fish and Game Association. In 2010/11, McDougall was recognized as the “Lion of the Year” by the Lions Club and has won several other awards for his dedicated volunteerism. McDougall sits on Sturgeon County’s Assessment Review Board, and in the past, on the County’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board; this experience, in particular, has positioned him well for a spot on Council, he said, because he is familiar with working within policy frameworks and understands the magnitude and time commitment that comes with sitting on a formal board.
“I guess you could say, my main platform—or reason for running—is that I want to represent the residents of Morinville,” remarked McDougall, who added he intends to advocate for all people in Town, from youth straight through to seniors. Regardless of what my own opinions are on an issue, if I’m elected to Council, I’m there to represent the majority of what people want, and that’s how I will cast my votes, he said.
Some of the larger tasks the next Council will have at hand, according to McDougall, include completing the recreation centre (which he described as a big challenge in regards to funding). He also said deciding if Morinville wants to position itself as a city or remain as a town is something that should be seriously considered as the population inches closer to the 10,000 mark. “We’ve got to manage the growth that Morinville is experiencing,” said McDougall, who indicated that, with more people, comes the greater need for maintaining and developing new infrastructure and attracting and retaining business in town.
McDougall said he will be running a campaign and intends to get out to talk to people face-to-face, do some door knocking, and attend candidate forums. The Town will be dealing with some key decisions over the next four years, and he stressed the importance of collecting input from residents on what they think about those major issues.
The municipal election takes place on October 16, with advanced voting open on October 4 and 14 (in the Council Chambers at St. Germain Place).