by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent
Councillor Stephen Dafoe will return as an incumbent candidate during the next municipal election. “After a lot of thinking and strong consideration, over the summer, I’ve decided to run again as councillor,” said Dafoe in an interview. Up until that point, the politician said he would be considering running as councillor, or possibly as Mayor, or may not even be running at all.
At the end of the day, however, Dafoe, 55, said he enjoys his current role and wants to come back to it for another four years. “I came here to work for the people of Morinville,” he said, “and I think I’ve done that…also, I like, and want to continue, to give people a voice.” One of the reasons Dafoe decided against running for Mayor was because, he said, the top spot on Council requires some degree of finesse when it comes to particular issues and responsibilities. He said his current brand of politicking—blunt and not afraid to bring up the (sometimes) hard questions—is more aligned with the role of councillor.
“I think one of my greatest strengths on Council is I have never been afraid to ask the uncomfortable or difficult questions at the council table, and to be prepared to dig to get the proper answers and information on those things.”
The incumbent, who has a perfect attendance record for Council meetings, said if voters award him a second term he will continue to operate under that same reputation. “I’ve never made any promises,” he noted, “…except for working under the three Cs: communication, commitment, and common sense.”
The big-ticket issues Dafoe sees as significant for the next group of municipal politicians in Morinville has largely to do with managing the Town’s growth (regarding land and infrastructure development, and that of the ballooning population). Additionally, he said, navigating through significant projects in Town will be key, such as reconciling how the forthcoming recreation centre and Morinville’s borrowing capacity will come together. Dealing with local roads, such as East Boundary Road, which Dafoe described as, “in rough shape” is another topic that will need to be addressed by Council over the next four years, according to the incumbent.
“Area development is vital,” expressed Dafoe, who noted that, under the current Council, commercial assessment has increased by about 15 million dollars; we need to keep building on that success, he remarked, to help address and meet residents’ expectations around things like municipal services.
Issues with photo radar (and what to do when the contract for that service expires), maintaining a sense of community as the Town inches closer to becoming city-sized, and balancing levels of municipal services with tax dollars are all items that need to be worked on by the new Council, he explained.
Dafoe, who has been a Morinville resident for over a decade, is a local business owner; he owns and operates this publication, The Morinville News. “When I first ran for council in the previous election, I got a legal opinion on whether there was a conflict between [my business and the Local Authorities Election Act]; that legal opinion cleared me.”
Dafoe said he once again took it upon himself to get a second legal opinion to cover any potential conflicts in the 2017 election, in which he said there are none. “I do not cover council stories or Provincial matters at all,” he stressed, saying he works hard to keep both of his roles completely separate. “From time-to-time, I cover federal stories, and local interest stories as well. That’s it.” Whenever matters come before council relating to advertising contracts with local media, Dafoe declares a pecuniary interest and excuses himself from the debate.
In addition to his regular Council meetings, Dafoe is also a member of several boards and committees; most notably he is the current Chair of the Northern Lights Library System, is a member of the Sturgeon County-Morinville Intermunicipal Affairs Committee, and sits on the Roseridge Waste Management Commission. In the past, the incumbent has also played a role in Morinville’s representation on the Capital Region Board (the CRB), sat as the Chair of the Morinville Public Library, and is a member of the Community Futures Tawatinaw Region Board, among others.