Morinville – After living in the community for more than a decade, Morinville resident Brent Henry decided it was time to serve on Council. The 48-year-old father of two spent 27 years in the regular army and retired last year as Logistics Officer with a rank of Major. Over the past nine years Henry was a financial comptroller and responsible for budgets ranging between $500,000 to $200 million. He is currently employed by Health Canada as the Nursing Operations Management Advisor.
Henry’s belief that one can’t complain about how things are being done if they are not willing to get involved is part of his motivation for running. “After living across Canada, this is the place we decided to call home,” he said, adding he wants it to be the best place to live that it can be. “That means building a stable, financially viable community with all the services we can provide with the resources we have.”
Henry said he is concerned Morinville will over-stretch itself financially if it continues to hire and approach some of the bigger projects it has been doing. He sees his experience in managing large budgets would be an asset. “I believe that the best way to help influence town spending is to be involved at the start, the decision-making level,” he said. “That way, I can provide advice and guidance before decisions are made.”
Henry sees a number of issues confronting Morinville presently. “The hot button issues that seem to keep coming up are property taxes, youth and recreation activities/facilities, photo radar, attracting more business to our town and the interchange at Cardiff corner,” he said. “I want to keep taxes reasonable, give youth opportunities to do things, be fair with photo radar, and attract more business to the town without sacrificing our current small town atmosphere. There are ways make Cardiff corner safer, sooner and without an expensive overpass. To my surprise, one issue that surfaced and died was the work on the Civic Plaza building and the arena. I believe that the arena and other key infrastructure issues are soon going to cause the town huge cash flow problems and need to be addressed head-on, rather than a band-aid approach used thus far. My only agenda is to see that the taxpayer’s money is spent responsibly.”
Henry said he has worked closely with some of the current members of Council and has a lot of respect for them; however, he said he was very disappointed with some of the big financial decisions that have been made by Council this term. “The Civic Plaza cost overruns were unacceptable and the repairs to the arena should not have come as a surprise,” he said. “I have also heard rumblings from people about the wisdom of building the Cultural Centre when people wanted a pool. Finally, as I pointed out in a letter to the Morinville News a couple of years ago, our hiring of town employees has been on a level that is clearly unsustainable and likely needs to be reviewed quite closely.”
His biggest concern with the way things are presently being done is in what he sees as a lack of clear and open decision-making and communications. “I’m sure there were good reasons for various actions, but they were poorly communicated to the public,” Henry said. “I know there is a new town website being introduced shortly, but myself and other people having been telling the town for at least two years that our current website was cumbersome, had errors and generally unacceptable. If it was a priority, it would have been fixed long ago. Finally, I’m tired of paying consultants to develop plans that won’t be implemented before the concept will be dated and new consultants needed to update the plan. In some cases, I feel that this was a waste of money.”
Skills on the table
Henry cites his experience at bringing budgets in on target and solving low- and high-level problems as a valuable skill to bring to the Council table. The candidate also has experience in developing, writing, and interpreting policy, and making recommendations for decisions by senior officers.
“Known as being firm but fair, I asked the hard questions and held people accountable when required,” he said. “With my experience as both a hands-on tradesman and a senior manager, I am intimately familiar with all levels in the decision-making and planning processes required to see high value projects through from concept to completion.”
Henry said one of his strengths has been strong communication skills and ability to work well as part of a team. “I am a strong, decisive leader when it is my time to lead, but I know that there are times when it is more important to be a strong, supportive follower so we can all succeed as a team,” he said. “Knowing when to lead and when to follow is a skill that I think is lacking in many municipal teams. I have been involved with the Morinville Community Library Board from 2006 to 2007 and 2010 to present, so I know how to function well as a municipal-level team member. I am committed to doing the right thing, at the right time, with the resources that are available.”