2017 municipal election: candidate profiles

Shawn Gramlich for town council

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Shawn Gramlich has become quite prominent in Slave Lake the past three or four years, thanks to the Icebreaker hockey game and banquet. The highly successful fundraising event has gotten bigger and more complex in the four years he’s been doing it, culminating a few weeks ago with an appearance by Wayne Gretzky.
This year, Gramlich says, “we spent around $300,000. I think I’m pretty good at budgeting.”
Gramlich figures he spent four to eight hours a night working on the event in the days leading up to it. Far from exhausting him, the experience has led to him to take on an even bigger challenge – a four-year term as town councillor.
“Running the Icebreaker – I’ve made contacts and learned things I should be able to apply,” says the energetic 32-year-old.
As to his reasons for wanting to ‘make a difference’ in the community, Gramlich says he’s thinking about the community his kids are growing up in, and how he’d like to have a hand in making it better.
For example?
“I’d like to try to touch on tourism,” he says. “Getting more tourists to our town.”
That might sound odd coming from an oil and gas guy (he works in well optimization and tube inspections), but Gramlich says the community can’t depend economically on the oilpatch, the way things are going. And based on his experience in organizing a big local event that attracts people from out of town, he thinks more could and should be done.
Other people think so too, and have been encouraging him to run.
“It’s been suggested for a long time,” he says, but he never felt he could fully commit himself. Now, with the blessing of his employer, he’s ready to give it a try.
“I hope I get in,” he says.
With seven people running for the six available seats on council, his chances are probably pretty good. Voters will get a chance to see and hear Gramlich at the Chamber of Commerce’s candidates’ forum, being held on Oct. 2 at the Slave Lake Inn.
Gramlich was born in Edmonton and spent the first five years of his life in Sherwood Park. Since then he’s lived in Slave Lake. He’s married to Lacey and they have two daughters – Breeley and Madison. He’s worked in the oilpatch since he was 19 years old.

Rebecca King for town council

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

As promised, Rebecca King is running again for Slave Lake town council – seven months after losing out in a byelection. At the candidates’ forum for the Mar. 1 byelection, King stated forcefully that if she lost, she’d be back for another try at it in the October election.
And here she is.
Not a lot has changed since last February, so here’s (more or less) what appeared in the way of a candidate profile in an issue of the Lakeside Leader during that month.
King says running is “the next logical step,” in her commitment to community service.
“I started volunteering the second day I was here,” she says. “I have a desire to make our community a comfortable place to live and work and play. All my jobs have been service-oriented. It’s a natural progression.”
Much of the time since coming to Slave Lake nearly six years ago has been spent operating a daycare at her home.

King’s job from just out of high school was in the Canadian Navy. Her role for most of that time was as a teacher/instructor. Based in Hamilton Ontario and in B.C. in the summers, she earned diplomas during her service period in early childhood education and advanced studies in special needs.
“I taught Kindergarten for five years,” she says; she was also an education assistant at a high school.
How she and husband Greg ended up in Slave Lake was the result of a Whitecap Motors recruiting foray to Ontario. Somebody from Whitecap actually visited that province, making offers to qualified people. “He flew out here and within two weeks we were packed and moving to Slave Lake. That’s how much he liked it here!”
As noted, King has been volunteering in town since arriving. She helped out with the establishment of the Mat Program (homeless shelter), she’s a director of the Dog Park Society. She also volunteered for Parent Link and AHS, she says. “All my life I’ve been in a serving role,” she says. Whether it’s animals, special needs…”
King is keen on promoting tourism via a seat on town council. She’s also interested in doing something about the homelessness issue and would like to “work with the RCMP on crime.”
Expect King to be knocking on doors in her campaign. As for signs, she says she’ll be making her own. And of course voters can see her and hear her at the Chamber of Commerce’s Oct. 2 candidates’ forum at the Slave Lake Inn.

Brice Ferguson for town council

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

To no one’s surprise, rookie town councillor Brice Ferguson is running for re-election. Ferguson joined council in March of this year in a byelection, so in terms of experience, he’s barely gotten his feet wet.
As you might expect, the details of Ferguson’s life and experience haven’t changed a lot in eight months, so much of what follows is a repeat of a candidate profile that appeared in February of 2017.
Ferguson said then he was interested in joining council as “a way of giving back to the community,” and being able to have a say in the future of said community. One way he’s attempted to do that in his short time on council is to speak up for a cleaner Devonshire Beach. The recent public survey on that topic came about as a result of a Ferguson motion.
Born and raised in Slave Lake, Ferguson graduated from Slave Lake Koinonia Christian School in 2004. He’s been married nine years to Anisa, and they are the parents of two-year-old Tobias. They’re expecting their second child this December.
For the past few years, Ferguson has owned and operated the Domino’s Pizza in Slave Lake.
“I love every aspect of my job,” he says. “The freedom it gives, budgets, finance – and I get to meet a lot of people.”
As for what he’d like to accomplish if re-elected, Ferguson is keen on building on the momentum already gained on the Devonshire Beach clean-up issue. Next on the list for him is “attracting new business and growing the population. That and the budget.”
Ferguson adds that he’s big on fiscal responsibility. “A common theme is people say taxes are too high. Are there measures we can take to lower the tax burden? These are things I’d like to look into if re-elected to council.”
As for his seven-month experience as a councillor, Ferguson says he’s really enjoyed working with the other councillors and consulting with residents, “to help shape the future of the town. It’s been very fulfilling so far.”

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