Public service suits some people, and Murray Kerik seems to be one of those. He says he’s running for a second term as reeve of the M.D. of Lesser Slave River.
“There are a few things I’d like to see finished,” he says.
“Land use – zoning and that. We’ve been overloaded with (disaster) recovery, the fire agreement. The next council should have a clean slate and should be able to do it.”
Kerik refers to land-use conflicts in certain parts of the M.D. – particularly those near Slave Lake. Owner/operators who have outgrown the intent of the zoning, and their country residential neighbours who don’t like idling trucks. It’s up to the M.D. to come up with a solution; efforts have been made, but as Kerik notes, it’s been difficult to give it the concentrated effort it needs. Even at that, he knows it will be tough.
“If there was an easy solution, we’d have done it,” he says.
In the southern area of the M.D., the most pressing issue is roads. That never changes, and won’t unless the M.D. wins the lottery.
“People think we have a lot of money,” Kerik says, “but there isn’t a lot left for capital projects. We’ve kept our taxes in check.”
How about the Old Smith Highway?
“The perfect solution would be if the provincial government would take it over,” Kerik says. “Like they should.”
Failing that, the annual cost of maintenance on it is getting to the point where council is starting at least to talk about whether paving might be a better option. Kerik says it’s about half a million dollars a year to keep it from falling apart. What would payments on a debenture be?
“We want to see the comparison,” he says.
All of that (and a lot more besides) won’t be Kerik’s concern if he doesn’t get elected. As of now he’s the only contender for reeve who has declared. He won’t know if he has any competition until the Sept. 18 nomination deadline.
If he does win another term, it would be Kerik’s second as reeve, and fourth overall on council. His father Duane was the first reeve of the M.D. Back then, Murray covered for Duane on the cattle ranch; ‘Now he’s doing it for me!” says Kerik, adding that without his help, not to mention that of wife Debbie and various other friends and family members, he wouldn’t be able to devote the time to being reeve of the M.D.
As for the people he serves with, Kerik says, “We’ve had a good council. “We think differently, and that’s good.”
Looking forward to the next council, Kerik says he would like to see some female representation on there. It’s been four years since a woman served on that body.
“Two we know of are running,” he says, “and we might have more.”
Both are from the eastern/southern electoral ward. Kerik says he hopes some women will decide to run from the other end.
“I would sure encourage it,” he says. “It’s not high-paying, but it does pay your expenses and you do feel you are doing something for your community.”
The only requirements for the job, as far as Kerik is concerned, are to “keep an open mind and some common sense.” If you have those, “you’ll do quite fine.”
Kerik also takes the opportunity to put in a plug for M.D. administration.
“Second to none,” he says, pointing to the high turnover in staff that other municipalities in the region are known for. “We don’t have that. The majority seem to be happy.”
This year’s municipal elections are on Monday, Oct. 16.