Local business owner running for mayor

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By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Shotgun Sally’s manager Christa Marie Naughton has thrown her hat into the ring for Morinville’s upcoming fall mayoral race.

Naughton, 39, has managed the bar on the corner of 100 Avenue and 100 Street for the past seven-and-a-half years and has lived in the community for nearly five years. Over that time she has met and become friends with many people in the community. It was learning their needs that prompted her to run for mayor.

“I just think that Morinville needs some change,” she said. “It needs what the people that I care about, which is the community that I have met so far – they deserve something that they are looking for that they just don’t seem to be getting.”

For Naughton, the missing element is the truth, combined with a real person who understands their concerns because they live and breathe the same way they do.

The candidate said her biggest goal is to do her best not to be a politician. “I guess that will either go for me or against me,” she said, adding she has seen a lot happen in Morinville over here time here, changes that have not always been for the better.

“I think we have seen a lot more accidents, a lot more of our youth get in accidents and die. We have increasing issues with minors [and] drugs and alcohol. Running a Morinville hotel you see a lot of things the community at night doesn’t see or maybe everybody just wants to brush under the rug and not address.”

Naughton said during her time in Morinville she has done her best to run a safe business and wants to extend that concept to the community. “I just want to see Morinville grow and be better, see the youth do something,” she said, adding she has seen many people she knew leave the community over the past five years. “The town is very young now. We are seeing changes, younger families, younger kids living on their own and trying to make their way.”

The business manager said she wants to use what she has seen to make the community better for youth and families. “I’d like to see more programs for kids after dark,” she said, adding she’d also like to see more jobs for youth as well as have residents continuing to live and spend their money in the community instead of going to St. Albert or Edmonton. “While that is a necessity, the only way we are going to get better is to come together, whatever our differences are, and make that change. Not one person can change Morinville all by themselves.”

Naughton said she’d like to see youth engaged through more volunteer work experience programs in town. “When I was young, I did work programs in the summer,” she said. “There needs to be motivation. Kids need to understand there is a reason to put the Xbox down or the iPad, maybe don’t go to that party tonight and drink illegally. There really is more to the world than what they are seeing. I think that every business in Morinville should bring a youth on, volunteer-wise, and educate them. Maybe they won’t financially make money, but they will get experience. That is something I’d want to see, a work experience program.”

Family values important

Naughton believes Morinville needs to get back to the family values that are represented in the town’s slogan – The Family Choice. “I’ve had a chance to sit in people’s homes over the past week and they have told me they have lived here their whole life and it is not community based anymore,” Naughton said. “We’re seeing things happen that you wouldn’t see happen five years ago. I think that crime has risen. I think that alcohol-related issues after dark are an issue. I would like to see a more extensive walkthrough program done by the RCMP. We used to have bike patrols. They would ride throughout the community and speak. As a business owner, that helps. I would stand behind a man that rode a bike, a police officer. People responded to that.”

Charitable work important

Naughton said throughout her time in Morinville she has always tried to be charitable by holding fundraisers for different groups in the community, including the Lions Club and the Jessica Martel Foundation.

One charity Naughton said she was personally involved in starting was Sports Over Streets. “We were trying to raise money to take children in the community (in Morinville) who couldn’t afford to go to dance school, hockey, whatever. We’d raise the money and put it to their hockey school for the week,” she said. “Then we wanted to send them to a camp that raises awareness to them about the dangers of the street and what happens when you pick up a cigarette or a joint versus picking up a hockey stick or a pair of ballet slippers. That was something we have been very passionate about.”

Naughton is involved in a new initiative, the Good Life Project, a concept that evolved out of a friend’s limousine service. “Nobody can get a cab,” Naughton said, adding she and fellow bar owners fight a drunk driving issue every day. “Anywhere that serves alcohol will face that drunk driving issue. After seven-and-a-half years, I got very tired of not being able to provide service to my customers, to the Town of Morinville.”

Where the charity comes in is raising funds to cover the costs of drivers, gasoline and insurance to provide free limousine rides to those in need of a safe ride home. Naughton said the first fundraiser for the Good Life Project took place at her business during St. Jean Baptiste Festival. The event raised $200, monies that will cover the free rides to prevent impaired drivers hitting the road.

More than her work

Naughton said she hopes voters will get to know her during the campaign and come to realize there is more to her than the job she does, a job she said she would leave if she becomes mayor. “I’ve made that very clear and I have said I would resign my position to do this,” she said,” adding she has been troubled by Internet and public comments that have not taken her mayoral bid seriously or have judger her based on her occupation. “Generally, when one side of the story gets told, it’s not the whole story.”

As mayor, Naughton said she plans to listen to people, understanding that residents will see things different ways. Through it all, she has no plans to make promises. “I’m going to listen and say, ‘This is what I will try to do,’” she said. “I’m not going to make promises that I can’t keep. I also feel the Morinville citizens need to be told the truth, and while nobody likes the truth all the time, and that is not a political way, – maybe – I don’t think it is such a bad thing.”

On the complexities of dealing with municipal and provincial matters, including the recently-passed Highway 642 Functional Planning Study, Naughton said she has her own opinions as a resident and taxpayer, but she feels those opinions on the issues are irrelevant. She feels it is important to listen to what the voter thinks and to use every channel available to get the word out in order to get that public input. “We have Facebook. We have Twitter. We have all these things now,” she said, adding more needs to be done to keep people informed on decisions the town is making. “There are a lot of people I’ve spoken with that said they didn’t know anything about it [Highway 642 plan].”

Though the candidate sees herself as more than the work she does, she feels running a business in the community for the past half decade plus is a skill she would bring to her role on Council. Beyond that, it is her unique take on the role of mayor that she feels is important. “I believe I’m unlike any other mayor candidate Morinville will ever see because I’m real,” she said. “I’m not going to put on a suit and change. I want to hear what they really think, and if that means I have to sit down in a coffee shop and listen to them, sit in a bar and listen to them, I’m going to do it. I guess I’m a little unconventional for what people think a mayor should be, but I think that is in my benefit. I think that it is time Morinville makes a change and says the everyday person [can run]. Let’s get away from this society label and let’s let everyone know you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.”

Naughton said she is looking forward to meeting people as she begins knocking on doors over the next few months.

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14 Comments

  1. Yet another well-written article by our esteemed editor!

    Christa Marie, I wish you all the best of luck in this quest. Not being (or desiring to be) a ‘professional’ politician is NO bad thing – it will probably be very much to your advantage, as long as you are true to yourself and your beliefs.

    I, and others like me, have been fighting this Town’s Administration for what seems like forever on the joint issues of openness, transparency and honesty. Sadly to say, we’ve not received much of ANY of those things, on far too many topics of discussion. Hopefully you, and any other candidate vying for our vote, will remember this if you are elected. There is NO doubt that the time has come to take back our community and insist that Administration REALLY adhere to the dictates of our Mayor and Council, who are being elected to represent the will of the population of this Municipality.

    Once again, good luck!

  2. I would like to wish the candidate good luck as we can use some competition in the mayoral race.

    My sense is that many things have been tried to engage the youth of our town, frustrating those who try to give them something to do, but there is a lot of apathy and no-shows for events. It’s a vicious circle that is hard to break – if you have programs and no one comes, they die on the vine due to lack of attendance. If you have no programs, people complain about the lack of things for youth to do and want programs. Go back to my previous two sentences and repeat about every 6-9 months. I’m for anything that will break the cycle.

  3. I can respect anyone that wants to run for political office but honestly? She gives the media a head-shot good for a go-go dancer! She didn’t answer any of the questions with substance and obviously has no idea what the major issues are in this town. Good luck – you are going to it!

  4. Pretty tacky Brad!

    And I suppose YOU know what the “major issues” are?? Have you even attended a Town Council meeting?

    And when might we see YOUR declaration to run for Mayor?

  5. James O’Brien there is a very good reason that YOU were NOT elected into council. Anyone who has a computer can find out the issues, read over council reports and attend council meetings. You can also stroll over to the Town Office and ASK for them. Maybe its just you James, maybe you dont know how to find what is right under your nose. Ever think of that? Tacky is a Bar Manager with a poor reputation running for Mayor. Tacky are your low blows to our existing council. Maybe your age has to do with you not knowing who this canidate is and what she represents in this community.Maybe doing some reasearch for yourself would do some good becasue all I hear is a grouch who cant get his own way.

    @ Brad….exactly!

  6. Sorry if I offended you “J.R.”, but I refuse to get into a pissing contest with anyone who does not even have the guts to give his (or her) name.

    You’re right though – I do NOT know of this person’s “reputation” because I’m not interested in that kind of dialogue (you know – innuendo, rumours and plain old-fashioned gossip!)

    If YOU have attended any of the Council meetings, you may have seen me. And if YOU have attended any of the Open Houses held by the Town on any number of the issues, you may have seen me.

    If you have more than skimmed any of my comments as presented in this media, you MAY have noticed that my so-called “low blows” are rarely directed at Council, but more appropriately aimed at this Municipality’s Administration.

    And on that note, I bid you a fond farewell… Have a nice day!

  7. Kudos to Ms Naughton for running. It takes courage and a thick skin to enter the ring for any public office and if she feels she has points to make, insight to give or direction to provide she should definitely run for office. Hopefully there will be a candidates forum or debate so we can see and hear what each candidates policies, positions and vision are.

  8. The best politicians I have ever known of were never in politics prior to their election. Good job Chrysta Morinville needs a change. Seems like all the input the community gives (year after year) is never listened to.. Maybe having a real member of the community instead of the same old “politicians” will get us the change that is necessary for the youth in Morinville.

  9. I’m all for democracy, but shouldn’t a mayoral candidate have experience in municipal politics/government first?!? I’m still not sure what Christa’s platform/agenda is after reading this article, but I believe our mayor should serve a minimum of one term as Councilor (here or elsewhere) before tossing their hat in the mayoral race (for the same reason school principals need to have experience teaching first).

  10. Sorry Moe, but exactly WHY should ANY candidate for ANY political office necessarily have ANY experience in municipal politics??

    As recently as last week’s special council meeting has shown, NOT ONE of our present council, including at least one who would be boss, showed the faintest idea of what leadership is all about. They couldn’t even decide if one of “their own” had what it takes to be an INTERIM mayor for a three-month period! That’s pretty sad…

    As for your “teacher/principal” analogy – not all good teachers make good principals and, once again, WHY is it considered necessary for school principals to have teaching experience? After all, is the school principal not merely the senior administrator at the school?

    Enjoy your honeymoon my friend!

  11. Jim–As a Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, you’re incredibally well-versed in the area of leadership (there’s no debating that). School Principal’s require teaching experience for the same reason Generals require years of service and recommendations for promotion. They’re battle-tested! Leaders must possess a respect and UNDERSTANDING for the PROCESS (in my opinion). I’m curious why Christa isn’t interested in first running for Councilor–to immerse herself in the inner-workings of municipal politics before running for Mayor. I guess I’ll have to wait until the public forums to find out.

    Hope all is well back home!

  12. Hey Moe:

    Your points are well-taken… Unfortunately, NONE of the present Council members who might aspire to be our next Mayor demonstrated ANY leadership in this most recent debacle! You really had to be there to fully appreciate the situation… I guess, if you consider these folks to be “battle-tested” then in this particular battle they failed, miserably.

    Perhaps someone with a fresh, unadulterated outlook will at least cause all the other candidates to take stock of their so-called “platforms”. Whether the WAR will be won by ANY of the present council members remains to be seen.

    All is well here – hope you’re not getting the rain we are!!

  13. I read the article & have read all the comments. I have to say the definition of character is very different from a reputation. I read the positive & negative comments, as well as the low blows. I have read all the articles written about both candidates. I think that overall I understand why people assume that a bar manager is not capable of becoming mayor. But then I stop to know that most don’t even know her as a bar manager or even as a person, mother, woman. I don’t know a lot about either candidate but there is one thing in naughton’s favor. She’s not the deputy mayor & as a manager of a business she needs to & doesn’t look to her staff to lead her, and wait there are lots of straws for her to draw but she stands up & takes responsibility for her own busniess. I may be new to the community and not know either candidate but both my wife & I where at that meeting Thursday and I don’t see or hear anyone judging Lisa Holmes leadership choices or lack there of. Some of this community makes all of us look like we put our heads in the sand and have one track minds.

    • If you think no one has challenged the deputy mayor or council, then clearly you have not read this week’s editorial.

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