Morinville – Long-time resident, lawyer and businessman Gord Putnam announced Wednesday morning he would seek a seat on Council in the upcoming municipal election. Putnam has been a resident of Morinville for the past 17 years and been active in a number of boards, committees and organizations, including terms as president of the Rotary Club of Morinville, chair of the Sturgeon Economic Development Committee and varyingly as board member, vice president and president of the Morinville Minor Hockey Association.
“The reason I am running is I love this town, I live here, my business is here, and I want to contribute,” he said. “The way I see myself contributing is being part of a team that creates a vision for the town for the next four years.”
Putnam said in his 10 years with the Sturgeon Economic Development Committee, he saw how focused resources on a clear vision could produce results. “That happened at the County and I believe that same thing can happen in any organization, and can clearly happen for the Town of Morinville,” he said, adding he would like to take his experience in that area and encourage Council to sit down and create a vision for the term, evaluating it as they go along.
The candidate said he was asked to run for office by many in the community, and after reflecting where he was in his business, the age of his children, and gaining their support, he decided to run.
Issues at hand
Putnam said he sees economic development as a leading issue over the next Council term. “I really believe we need to put a focus on it for it to be successful,” he said. “You have to create a vision for it and you have to support it.”
While economic development will create opportunities for residents to work and shop, Putnam said his overall vision is for Morinville to be a place where people can work, live and play.
That includes ensuring seniors facilities are supported so aging residents do not have to go to a facility in St. Albert of Edmonton. “We need to have those facilities here for seniors,” he said. “I have a passion for seniors. A lot of my clients are seniors and I really believe that we have to keep all seniors that we can in our community in facilities here that we can have them stay and stay connected to their families.”
On the Council side of the equation, Putnam sees role clarity as an issue – role clarity for Council and role clarity for Administration. “The Municipal Government Act outlines what that looks like, and I think we really need to be able to clear about what the role of Council is and what the Role of Administration is,” he said. “And once we have clarity, working together on what that is and supporting each other as we move forward.”
Putnam said in his view, Council creates the vision, Administration implements the vision, and Council evaluates and reviews the implementation. “It’s making sure everyone that’s in that process feels supported, and no one feels like they’re on an island,” he said. “We want to be working together.”
Putnam said traffic safety in and out of the community is important to him and that an interchange at Cardiff Road and Highway 2 is needed soon. “We have to keep working with government to have a conclusion on that,” he said. “We need an interchange there. We know that.”
The candidate does support the use of photo radar in the community, but that Council needs to look at as many other traffic safety opportunities as well. “There is a Traffic Safety Committee that looks into that and reports to Council,” he said. “I’m happy to hear what they have to say.”
Another area he is interested in what people have to say is opportunities for a recreational facility, something his Rotary Club is presently working on. “That [need for a facility] comes out of the report that the regional municipalities did,” he said. “I believe that if we want to have facility that is to benefit the whole region, we will get that support from the province, and perhaps the federal government as well is we approach it from that [regional] perspective. It’s going to take the vision of a lot of Councils in the region and our Rotary Club is there to provide a vehicle for that to happen. If everyone can find a vision, we can find an alignment to make that happen.”
Putnam said his experience with Sturgeon Economic Development and the province has shown regional cooperation is essential to getting many projects or initiatives off the ground. “We have to be mindful of what the town’s needs are, and work with that,” he said. “But where we can, can we collaborate with other municipalities within the region for certain types of initiatives. That’s something I’d like to look into if and when I get there.”
Cooperation inside Morinville needed
Beyond regional cooperation, Putnam said cooperation inside Morinville, particularly in economic development, could benefit the community in terms of more retail stores and amenities. “Can we do something to drive that investment into Morinville?” he said. “How can we work with developers to make that happen? The right type of investment is one of the things I’d be looking for in terms of vision.”
Putnam said he has some ideas on how to do that, which he will release in his platform during the upcoming campaign.
Skills on the table
Putnam said his 21 years as a lawyer has allowed him to learn to work with people in difficult situations and to create value for his clients, skills he brings to the table he feels would be of value at the Council table. “As a lawyer your job is to add value to some transaction your client is involved with, and that is really what my job is,” he said, adding collaboration and teamwork are also skills he brings from his profession.
The Council candidate also cites his years of community work as assets to the job. He says he takes the Rotary motto of Service Above Self seriously, and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel lawyer in 2009, an honourary title that recognizes his professional contributions.
Putnam said he also brings the ability to ensure respect is a part of the political process. “One of the things missing in politics, not necessarily in Morinville, but in political matters everywhere, is respect,” he said. “You have to be somebody that can work in collaboration because the end result for the client is getting that done.”
Beyond his professional and community involvements, Putnam refers to himself as a high energy guy who is able to give a lot because of his love of community.