Mayor and councillor candidates for the District of Houston submitted their election priorities to the Houston Today:
Lance Hamblin (running for mayor and Area ‘G’ director)
I’m excited about Houston’s future. I believe the best days for our community are yet to come. I’ve built my platform around three pillars: Vision, Leadership and Accountability.
Vision is the ability to see beyond where we are today. As a community I believe we need to have a wide-ranging, intense and ongoing discussion about what our community looks like five years, 20 years into the future.
Leadership is the ability to lead that discussion, distill the results down into a vision that residents, business owners, visitors and investors find so compelling that they get excited about working, investing, shopping and living in Houston.
Accountability is making sure the results are affordable to the taxpayer and that they are reported in a clear, transparent and timely manner.
I believe the role of the mayor is key in accomplishing these goals. The mayor is responsible to the taxpayers for extracting the best value from each tax dollar spent but there is much more to the position.
The mayor is the face of Houston, both inside and outside of our community. We need to ensure people know who and where we are and that takes a huge time commitment. A time commitment I am willing and eager to make.
Bill Holmberg (running for mayor)
If I am re-elected as mayor, I will continue our work to bring 24-hour health care to Houston. Council lobbied hard to bring more care beds to our health clinic—the next step is to invite more nurses and doctors to live in town.
I am also proud of council’s strong efforts to keep Houston property taxes among the lowest in B.C. If re-elected I will continue to keep fiscal responsibility front and centre in all the work we do.
Water and sewer repairs will be a major challenge in the next council term. There is expensive work to do, and in a tight economy, Houston council will have to work even harder to fund those repairs.
In the big picture, Houston’s mayor and council must do all they can to secure our position as an industrial centre of the north. We have a solid industrial base, but we must also be innovative enough to support new commercial and retail businesses.
Council’s new business tax exemption was a good start, but a lot of that work remains ahead of us.
As mayor, I will also do my part to support Houston residents who are living on low incomes and struggling to get by.
Our council has had many successes over the last three years, but we still have a lot of work to do.
In closing if elected I will work hard with council to make Houston a place to be proud to live in and call home.
Phylis Jellett (running for mayor)
I‘ve lived in Houston since 1975—this is where my heart is. I’m vested in Houston as a local business owner of over 30 years.
As mayor, I would create a holistic approach where District Government, local business, Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, and people work together. I believe this will empower the five branches to find mutual solutions and create a community we can be proud of again.
If elected, these will be my key priorities:
Develop support programs for the growing number of low income families.
Develop programs to keep our money in our town.
Provide solutions and opportunity for new business.
Create a utilization plan for our parks, trails and recreation facilities.
Build on the current successes in the seniors’ community.
Aggressively pursue opportunities for community growth through local, provincial and federal funding.
I will build a positive relationship with District staff, be fiscally responsible, and ensure accountability for mayor and council. I will be visible and accessible.
I have served my community as president of the Lion’s Society, the Houston Lions Senior Citizens Home Society, and the Houston Legion. I have also volunteered with local clubs, and was president of the Pleasant Valley Horse Club.
I know I can make positive change. I plan to use all available resources to promote a healthier, more viable community. I encourage you to believe in me because I believe in Houston.
Shane Brienen (running for councillor)
I believe the biggest issue for Houston is still health care. We have made some great strides with the six new beds in our health centre and the new ambulance station. There are still issues with staffing and we need to continue to work towards 24-hour health care.
Houston residents spoke loud and clear with a NO vote in our recent referendum on a new $4.2 million water treatment plant. They also spoke loud and clear with complaints about the water quality before the referendum. Your current council has at every opportunity lobbied the provincial and federal government for funds for a water treatment plant.
If elected I would continue to lobby on your behalf for money for this plant.
Other key issues are ageing infrastructure. Roads, sidewalks, sewer and water lines are falling apart and costing the municipality a lot of money.
The recent addition of the new Prince Rupert Container Port and the ongoing Highway 97 power project will both create growth in the northwest and town council needs to focus on looking for opportunities to create jobs. The District of Houston’s recent Revitalization Tax Exemption is clearly a step in the right direction.
Lastly, the part of council I have enjoyed the most and hope to continue is talking with people and listening to concerns or questions and trying my best to get them answers or results.
Hank Buursema (running for councillor)
If re-elected, my top priority will be to make sure local taxpayers’ money is well spent. I have nearly 20 years of council experience, and I know what mistakes we have to avoid repeating.
Many other B.C. municipalities have overspent their budgets, but in Houston we’ve run a fiscally responsible District. We have to continue that.
We all want to attract more businesses to Houston as well. A healthy business centre is key to the success of the whole community. We need to attract more secondary industry and then the businesses will follow.
Our infrastructure, healthcare and the District water system are also top priorities for council this coming term.
I would like to see more sidewalks like the one the District just built on 11th Street. I’d like to see the sidewalk by the health clinic widened, as well as the sidewalk going up the hill on Mountainview Drive.
On healthcare, it would be nice to get our 24-hour care in town. But that will only come after we have more doctors and nurses in town.
I recently joined other councillors in presenting Premier Clark and others with a bottle of our tap water. We didn’t say anything. We just put it on the table.
The Premier was shocked. We’ve done things like that before on council, and we’ve got to keep doing them to make the point.
I care about the District of Houston and would like to continue to serve our community.
Michalle Jolly (running for councillor)
My name is Michalle Jolly and I was born and raised in the beautiful Bulkley Valley. I’m proud to say that we have three generations of family that reside here in the community where we have chosen to raise our five beautiful children. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to work in many of the different industries the community has to offer including mining, forestry and sales, as well as the joy of being a stay-at-home mom.
Myself and my husband Richard currently run two successful home-based businesses and understand the importance of keeping business local. I appreciate all the community has offered us and believe that economic diversification is imperative for community growth. If elected I would like to continue to be involved in this area of development.
After several years of thoughtful consideration I have decided to run for council as I have always had the desire to give back to the community. I respect the work of the current council and would love the chance to bring a new and fresh perspective to the table. Rather than sitting on the sidelines I look forward to working with mayor council to help better our community.
Rick Lundrigan (running for councillor)
My name is Rick Lundrigan and I’m seeking a second term for Councillor for the District of Houston. I have enjoyed my term on Council. I’ve found it engaging and challenging. I have learned a great deal on how the politics of a municipality operate. Does this make me a “Politician?” I hope not.
My goal is not to become a true politician, but rather someone who is honest, down to earth, and focused. Simply put, a working man with some common sense, who is not afraid to speak up. I’ve never hesitated to ask questions and request or seek out further information in the pursuit of making the best, most informed decisions possible.
It would be once again, an honour to represent you on Council for the next term, should you see fit to re-elect me. I would truly appreciate your support, and will not take it for granted.
The question was asked of me, what are my top priorities for the next term? ” My” priorities are not what are important; it’s the priorities of the folks in our community that I work towards. From small concerns, right up to major issues. I have, and will continue to stand up for Houston and the people in it. COMMUNITY FIRST!
Dawn Potvin (running for councillor)
My name is Dawn Potvin and I have lived in the community of Houston for over 30 years. I grew up in Houston, and then after living briefly in Mackenzie, moved back home and am proud to raise my family here. I have three children, and have always been involved in community promotion by way of local sport, family activities and proudly contributing to a weekly column in the Houston Today.
I also work at the Houston Health Centre, working both for a local doctor and at reception. Over the years, I have watched Houston grow in a positive direction on many levels, and I am very excited to see the potential this community has.
I believe it is important to continue to grow, and to work with what the town has already worked so hard to achieve by way of seniors’ housing, residential care, recreation, tourism and much more. I would strive to help mayor and council continue to move in a positive direction that showcases what Houston has to offer. I am running for council because I would look forward to becoming part of the process of Houston’s continued economic growth, and welcome community input on today’s issues.
Tim Smith (running for councillor)
Houston has been my home for 35 years and I am proud to be part of this community.
I have always been interested in how the town has been run but due to work commitments I did not have the time to commit to being on council. I have recently retired and now have the time to work diligently for the benefit of Houston.
The important issues facing Houston are: increasing costs and aging infrastructure are putting a serious strain on the town’s finances, decreasing population and business leaving town resulting in a lower tax base, and a lack of 24-hour health care.
I don’t profess to have all the solutions to these issues, but I believe as a councillor I need to work with the rest of council as a team to find and implement solutions for these issues.
During my work career I gained extensive experience in developing solutions to problems, preparing and managing budgets and implementing operating plans. I am a team player with a strong work ethic and a very strong passion to see Houston prosper.
I hope you give me a chance to put my experience to work as a councillor for Houston.
Bob Wheaton, running for councillor
Hello, my name is Bob Wheaton and I have been privileged enough to have spent the last year as a part of the Houston Town Council.
Over the past year I am proud to say that collectively we have accomplisheda lot for our community and I have great expectations for the future. I am running in this election because as a 20-year resident of Houston, I care about the future of our town and know there are greatthings in store for us.
While we have always been and will remain a great community, there are still challenges to be faced. It is my opinion that health care and the shortage of doctors represents our greatest obstacle. I think we need to immediately address this issue and find incentives to draw qualified doctors to the area.
Further, in order to continue to thrive, we need to make Houston as business friendly as possible. Over the past year we have introduced new tax exemptions with the focus of bringing new business to town.
The end result of these incentives is to increase our tax base withoutplacing additional stress on home owners.
Thank you very much for your consideration and I would appreciate your support in the forthcoming election.
Jonathan Van Barneveld, running for councillor
I think that a big priority for any town council is to increase the quality and availability of our local health care and help to increase the basic support services that many people rely on. Many towns our size or smaller have 24-hour health care or at least 24 hour on-call care. I feel that it is important that we have the ability to treat serious industrial injuries as well as provide basic maternity care, without having to travel.
Houston has been labeled one of the most forestry dependent and most vulnerable communities in the province. The review of our timber supply is coming and our allowable harvest levels will be dropped within the next 10 years. We need to lay down the groundwork today to help reduce the impacts from that decision in the future.
Economic diversification is desperately needed to help mitigate our forestry dependency. We need to actively search and recruit new businesses to Houston and encourage our current residents to start up new businesses to help develop the town. We should be focusing on developing our current untapped strengths and marketing them to the broader region. Increased outdoor recreation, agriculture, social services and a modern shopping experience will not only help to diversify our current economy but will also attract new residents to town. Attracting new residents is a crucial aspect of our community’s long term sustainability.