By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Councillor David Pattison has announced he will run in the October election to retain his seat on Council. Pattison, who works in planning and development in the private sector and has lived in Morinville for 22 years, was first elected to Council in 2010 with 812 votes, taking fifth slot out of a field of 10 candidates.
Pattison said he was prompted to run again by feedback from the public. “People have said run again. They like what I’ve done. They’ve liked what I said. They’ve liked the positions I’ve taken,” Pattison said. “They always haven’t agreed but they respect how I’ve represented the community. They appreciate what I say on economic development.”
It is in the area of economic development that Pattison is most proud of his first term efforts, particularly his voting record on funding and finding an economic development officer for the community. “Having support on Council from the start on economic development wasn’t there,” Pattison recalled. “There were a couple votes that were lost when they simply wouldn’t support it. That was a tough time for me because everybody had said economic development is one of the top three issues: public safety, value for taxes, economic development. To finally get Council in this year’s budget to finally [commit to] hiring the economic development officer.”
Pattison said once that position is filled, the new officer will be able to work aggressively with the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce, businesses and service clubs to develop business in the community, something he feels the municipality has let go off the map in recent years. Additionally, he sees the new economic development officer to work to develop business-to-business efforts within the community.
The candidate said he would like to see a clothing store and a hotel in Morinville. But it will take someone to go talk to them and lure them here. “There are basically five hoteliers in this province that are putting hotels up at this time,” Pattison said. “I’ve suggested time and time again to get in contact with them and go have a conversation.”
Community and regional involvement important
Beyond economic development, Pattison said he is pleased to have been an active participant in many of Morinville’s community events, something he sees as more than waving in a parade.
“There is a visual arm to Council,” he said. “Council is not only doing business on every second and fourth Tuesday, but it is also seen to be engaged in the community and bringing that message there.”
It is through those events that Pattison, particularly when he served as deputy mayor, had an opportunity to keep the community informed. “When I spoke at the opening of the events for the community centre this past fall [to say] here is the event schedule for 2013. Council has put policy in place on what types of events will be there. Here is a facility, the types of things that are going to go in there. You’re having a chance to enunciate that in a public forum and say, ‘Okay, this is what we’re doing. This is where were going forward.’ It’s Councillor Pattison [speaking] but at the same time I’m representing Council, but I’m also representing the community.”
The councillor sees in that messaging the importance of dealing regionally and conveying that to the public. “A really key thing and one that’s been lost a lot this term is the whole regional nature of municipal politics,” Pattison said, adding the bigger overarching region needs to play a role with Morinville on the development of facilities, particularly as the community begins to discuss a new recreation facility. “I think the public really looks at regional cooperation because their children or themselves, if they have lived here long enough, are involved in sporting, music or other types of recreational activities. Those are always regional.”
Pattison said he feels Morinville is the big elephant in the matter. As such, the community needs to show they are much more willing to work with regional partners than they have in the past. “We need to do that much more than what’s been there,” he said.
Skills to the table
Pattison believes the skills acquired in his professional career in planning and development are transferable to his role on Council. The candidate said he believes when voters are looking to elect someone they are in fact electing a team. As such, they should elect people who have the ability to work with teams.
“I believe I’m a proven commodity in terms of working with teams,” Pattison said. “I’ve done that all my career as a professional land use planner. I’ve been accredited for 30 years. All of that is team building.”
Beyond team building and working within teams, Pattison said his strong background in economics is an important skill to bring to the Council table. Pattison said he just graduated from a program in Executive Business Administration at the University of Alberta.