Friday, November 14, 2008

For Port Edward's consideration

The Thursday edition of the Daily News provided some thumbnail sketches of what the candidates for Port Edward council are offering the residents of the District.

With some familiar names and some new faces offering up their vision for where they see Port Edward going in the future.

Patrick Witwicki previewed the Port Edward slate in Thursday's paper.

Would-be councillors share vision for Port Ed
District sure to see some new faces around council table
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Pages two and five

For the first time in more than a decade, there are vacant seats up for grabs in the district of Port Edward, both for mayor and for the four councilor positions.

As reported earlier this month in the Daily News, incumbent mayor Dave MacDonald, who is seeking a second term at that position, will take on current councillor Christine MacKenzie.

But just as interesting is the race for council, as six individuals chase after four positions.

MacKenzie obviously isn't running for council, while long-time mayor and recent councillor Ed Wampler unfortunately passed away in September.

That means only James Brown and Murray Kristoff are current councilors seeking re-election.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the six candidates running for Port Ed council.

James Brown

James Brown is a long-time resident of Port Edward, who has been part of the current council for nine years. This will be his fourth term if re-elected. He currently works at Ridley Terminals.
His vision of Port Edward lies in helping it behind what he calls a "sleeping community" - meaning an area where working families on the North Coast can live peacefully and safely.

"We've made it pretty well safe and clean," said Brown. "With the possible boom coming up, Port Edward is the quiet community everybody can live.

"Port Edward is going to grow."

Naturally, growth means keeping the current elementary school open, said Brown. But council's vision of stability with the proposed Official Community Plan (OCP) and a new potential subdivision should help.

"I think we'll be a bigger population," he said. "I feel good about the future of Port Ed."
Brown is aware that there will be some changes, but he stresses that the people of Port Ed consider keeping some continuity to help council stick to the vision that his been set by the current council.

"Continuity is the way to go," he said. "I can be a strong voice, and I have a real keen interest in what's happening in our community."

Knut Bjorndal

Knut Bjorndal believes Port Edward needs a business plan, and he feels that he is a member of the community that can help bring that plan to fruition.

Bjorndal, a long-time resident of Prince Rupert but who now resides in Port Edward, is currently the general manager with Community Futures Prince Rupert, which is a propos - he is very interested in Port Edward's future as well.

"I believe we need strong leadership to continue meeting the challenges in Port Ed," he said. "I'm a strong believer in public consultation, and we need to identify projects within the community."

The economy is at the forefront of Bjorndal's concern, as he wants to see Port Ed, in conjunction with Prince Rupert, experience growth in the future. And that includes keeping the elementary school open, he said.

"We need to provide jobs so we can continue to prosper," he said.

The goal of reaching that growth includes pushing for Phase II of the container port, and encouraging more development on the waterfront, said Bjorndal.

He also wants to replace the existing waterlines without "creating huge debt," he said.
"I really want to put my energy and skills to work, and I have the skills to act," he said.
Clary Chaisson

Joseph "Clary" Chaisson has always enjoyed the recreational side of life. For example, he owned the Houston golf course for many years, and when he first moved to Port Edward in 1999, he lived off his boat for the first four years.

He's retired now, and feels it's the right time to step in and add his voice to council. After all, he refers to Port Ed as "beautiful," but that won't stop him from wanting improvements.

"I'm open to any ideas from the people of Port Edward," he said. "Any other concerns anyone brings to council, I'm wide open to any ideas.

"Honesty in government ... and I'm available."

Despite being retired, Chaisson shares the community's concern about the elementary school, and is adamant he will fight to keep it open.

He also would like to see something happen with the current pulp mill site, believing that Port Edward can still benefit from the land.

But you can't take the fish out the fisherman, and one of his main concerns on the recreation side of things is the Port Edward docking site.

"I'm concerned about the dock. It's a big business in the summer," he said. "I'm suggesting it could be improved ... and offer more revenue for the community."

John Davenport

Of all the new candidates running for Port Ed Council, Davenport has lived in Port Ed the longest - 23 years, to be exact.

Because he has lived in the area for so many years, many people within the community keep coming up to him asking questions, or for advice, so finally, he figured, it's about time "I give back to the community," he said.

"A lot of people ask me questions I can't answer, so I'd like be a member of council so I can."

That said, Davenport likes the direction Port Edward is heading in and would like to simply tinker with what's working and continue to make it better.

"I'd love to see Port Edward get noticed for the community it is," he said. "But I want to see more people out here, build more houses, and have more families move out here."

Like all councillors, that includes ensuring the school never closes, he said.

But he'd also like to see businesses consider Port Edward as a destination as well.

"We need to make it easier for more businesses to come in," said Davenport.

Basically, Davenport sees himself as the voice that the people of Port Edward can trust.
"I want them to ask me questions," he said.

Dan Franzen

Dan Franzen is one of those people who just loves Port Edward. And now, he feels, it's time to share that love - and a vision too - in helping the community become even better as the future progresses.

"I've been living here a long time, and I'd like to have my voice heard, and keep our community viable," he said.

The 18-year resident, who is a member of the sportfishing advisory board, would love the rest of the world to find out about Port Edward, be it through business or tourism.

"I'd like to attract more tourism to Port Ed," he said. "And definitely more growth."

But he also would like to see Port Ed grow in a way that would allow families to stay in Port Ed, which obviously includes keeping the school open.

And he would also like other options in Port Edward when it comes to entertainment, instead of having to go into Rupert.

"I'd like more things for the kids to do out here," he said. "I have teens ... and they always have to go into town, so we're always driving back and forth."

Franzen is convinced he is the new voice Port Ed needs.

"Port Ed is a fabulous community," he said.

Murray Kristoff

Port Edward has a vision, and to reach that goal, experience on council would definitely be an asset, said Murray Kristoff, who has been a Port Edward councillor for 12 years.

"(We've) built the water treatment facility, providing crystal clear water for all the Port Ed residents," he said. "And we've maintained Port Edward to a high standard residents are used to."

Kristoff is also adamant that the elementary school can't be allowed to close, and in the same breath, ensure the community continues to grow and potentially prosper.

"We need to encourage economic development in the Port Ed and the surrounding area," he said. "We need to keep taxes low, and continue to make Port Edward a desirable place to live and raise a family."

Kristoff, who has lived in Port Ed since 1991, is determined that council continues to get the projects complete that they promised last election.

"I'd like to see us keep working on the old sewer lines," he said. "And increase the population of Port Ed by keeping the school open, and (build) the new subdivision."

In essence, experience gets the job done, said Kristoff.

"I've many years of municipal government experience, and I want to be a part of helping a new Port Edward flourish."

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