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7 Questions For Council Candidate Brice Unland

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10 minute read

I received the following questions from a citizen of Red Deer. I thought they were indicative of the general population’s feelings about the election/concerns of the city. I asked if I could share the questions and my answers, and she was kind enough to agree. I hope they provide you with some understanding on how I am approaching the election. I warn you now, it’s a bit of a longer read. You might want to grab a snack and a drink.

1) WHY are YOU running for council?

Glad you asked. You can take the short easy way to the answer here via video:

www.facebook.com/unland4rd – it’s pinned to the top of the page.

Or, you can take your time and really dive in with the response below:

Why I Am Running For City Council

2) Of three of your opponents, who would you like to see successful in this race with you and why?

If I stopped to ask some politically minded folks about how to answer this question, I think they would likely be hospitalized by the sheer audacity that I want to answer it (I can hear them screaming: “it’s a trap!” and “you can’t win by answering this question!”). Good thing (for both them and me) that I am not asking them.

Ken Johnston. I recently spoke with Ken at the Saturday Market, and while I had heard many good things about Ken, it was obvious right away from our conversation that he is a councillor for the right reasons. He has a big heart and is trustworthy of such an office.

Matt Slubik. Full disclaimer, Matt and I are friends. With that said, I take my endorsements (in all aspects of life) very seriously. I would like to see Matt on council because he is smart. I don’t mean that in the academic sort of way (though I think he fits that description too), but rather in a social/political sense. Matt and I disagree often which results in vigorous debate. Where I see Matt being good on council is that despite disagreements, what is always most important is not position or being right, but instead finding the best answer.

At this point I do not have a third I feel comfortable endorsing. This is not necessarily a reflection on the candidates but more so because I need to learn more about the reasons they are running and what qualifications they bring.

3) What is the single most important issue to you?

Safety/crime. Everything else we have in this city is a moot point if we don’t have safety. Nice parks, services, etc, all matter little and less if crime is a problem.

4)  What is the best thing that you have seen happen in Red Deer in the last 4 years?

The community response to the windstorm we experienced earlier this year was positively reaffirming. It reminded me (and others) on how important community is and also how great of a community we have. It demonstrated that we are not just people living beside each other, we are neighbours and we look out for one another.

5)  What is the worst thing you have seen happen in Red Deer in the last 4 years?

Crime. Both petty and serious crime. It’s unacceptable.

6)  Crime is a big topic lately.  People are talking about needing more policing.  Do you feel the same?  If you do, how do you think this can be done financially?  Some things are worth spending money on – of course – so if you feel the same, where would you cut funding?  Or would you?

As you can see from previous answers, this is important to me. I am of the firm belief we need more police. We can’t read the news each day and hear from our neighbours about more break-ins, theft, and violence and ignore the fact that we simply don’t have enough police to deal with the situation.

I don’t want to mince words. This is a cost item. More police will cost money. I am 100% okay with that statement. We can talk about fiscal restraint all we want, but if we aren’t safe, paying less tax is no longer a significant benefit.

So where do we get the money? Two options. 1. Raise taxes. 2. Cut spending somewhere else. I’ll briefly speak to both. I don’t want to raise taxes. However my friend that had his truck broken into this week and my neighbour that had two of his vehicles broken into in the past month would pay more in taxes to avoid this situation. So I am not convinced that increasing taxes for a cause like this is a non-starter. Of course a more palatable approach would be to find money by cutting something else. As a candidate from the outside looking in this is difficult for me to speak to with any sort of certainty or educated direction because I have not had the benefit of debating and having the different budget items explained to me in depth. With that said, one of the first places I will be investigating is the cost of hiring temporary workers (think grass cutters) during the summer. This seems like an area that could be hired out to private industry at a much lower cost than the city currently pays.

The other side of this coin is preventing crime in the first place (not just being able to react to it). To me, this is just as important as having the ability to respond. In “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference”, Malcom Gladwell explains how cracking down on petty crime (this was in New York), such as graffiti and not paying for public transportation, had a significant impact on decreasing more serious crimes. There is a good reason to believe that this would also apply to us.

7)  Due to the fact that every year I come close to having a heart attack shovelling snow from the street in front of my house, Snow removal is a hot topic for me.  How do you feel about the current program?  How would you improve it?  Again, how would you propose funding for changes?  (Side note, personally, I would rather take the risk of heart attack every other year, instead of once a year. )

In my twelve years of living in Red Deer I can certainly say that snow removal has gotten better. When I first arrived it seemed to be common practice to start ploughing main roads at 8:00am when everyone was heading to work. Thankfully this practice seems to have been put aside. Your comments are focused on the windrows that are created from the surface-ploughing that occurs on the side roads. When it comes to this, we have made things worse. Expecting citizens to shovel out the space in front of their house so they can park is just not feasible for a good portion of our residents. Add to this, the problem of potholes and roughness that surface-ploughing creates and you have roads that would make even rural Saskatchewan blush!

Like the policing question above, this comes down to money. Is this where we should spend tax payer money? Personally, this issue is below policing to me, but certainly providing basic services (like road clearing) to citizens that pay the city to do just that is more than reasonable. Funding improvements in this area would be similar to the policing answer above.

Thank you for the questions!

Sincerely,

Brice Unland
www.unland.ca

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