With the municipal election less than a week away, long-time Rocky View County (RVC) resident Ted Francois is looking to nab the Division 5 council seat.
Having spent the last number of years paying close attention to council, Francois said the tipping point for when he decided to run was last year, when he saw what was happening with the three sanctioned councillors, along with resident feedback.
“The people who can stand up and get some things done, need to do it,” he said.
Prior to filing his nomination papers, Francois spent time knocking on doors to talk to residents and find out if his platform resonated with people. He said having done his research, it seems his aspirations are 100 per cent in line with the thoughts of RVC residents.
“A lot of people, first of all, have no idea who their councillor is,” he said. “But a huge percentage of them certainly knew about the actions that have happened in council.”
He said from what he has heard, people are ready for some new faces on council.
“People have been really upset about how the [sanctioned] councillors were treated,” he said.
In 2019, three RVC councillors were accused of breaching council’s Code of Conduct by submitting a letter to the editor to the Rocky View Weekly that the rest of council deemed used discourteous and disrespectful language. The letter claimed the County’s process for hiring former Chief Administrative Officer Al Hoggan was “flawed.”
The sanctions were in effect for 13 months and required the three councillors to publicly apologize, restricted their ability to travel on behalf of and represent RVC, removed them from all council committees and bodies, decreased their remuneration by 30 per cent and limited their contact with County staff. The sanctions were eventually set aside by the courts in July of 2020.
“[Residents] felt there has been a terrible waste of time, and an incredible waste of money to be spent on silly arguments,” Francois said.
While council has had its fair share of controversies over the last four years, Francois noted that people in RVC love the region, which is why they chose to be in the area.
“Be it agriculture or just country residential, everybody loves where they live,” he said. “It just feels like everybody has some not so nice opinions about how they connect with RVC as a whole.”
An RVC resident for the past 16 years, Francois said he has been in the real estate appraisal business for the past 28 years. He believes his experience in the industry would transfer nicely to a council position.
“[My work] gives me really good insight on things like land issues, evaluations, assessments, subdivisions, and things like that,” he said. “I’m not going in totally empty handed. I think it will dovetail really nicely for some of the things that have to get done.”
In 2021, Francois said it should be a lot easier to communicate what is happening in the county to residents. He would like to be a part of a council that helps with transparency and open communication lines.
“People just don’t know about things that are happening,” he said. “A new proposal for a subdivision happens, they get one mail-out and feel like they have to dig like crazy through RVC’s actual website to find the real meat and potatoes of the issues.”
In terms of issues facing the County, Francois said he would like to advocate for and help implement better internet and cell phone service in RVC.
“I know that is difficult for RVC to achieve themselves,” he said. “I think we could at least be advocates for perhaps being the middleman and finding answers as to why these things can’t get better throughout RVC. I’m not sure exactly how to handle it, but I know I would be a strong advocate.”
Above all else, he said he’d like to see a balanced council that is able to work together.
“I know development has to happen, I know change has to happen, but I just hope it happens at a rate the infrastructure and tax base can handle,” he said. “Everybody should have a fair say in it.”
Francois will be running against long-time councillor and former reeve Greg Boehlke, Mark Jette, and John McMurray in Division 5, which includes the northeast area of the county. The election is set to take place on Oct. 18.