As Election Day fast approaches, the campaign to be Chestermere’s new mayor are entering the home stretch. In the final push to earn resident’s votes, candidates have been door knocking, putting up the last signs and working hard to share their vision for the city in an attempt to earn citizen’s trust to guide Chestermere’s development for the next four years.
The Chestermere Anchor City News spoke with each of the five candidates to find out what they have learned from Chestermere residents in their campaign, what they have heard people want to see in their new mayor and what the candidates have to say as voters start heading to the polls.
Khaleel Bhatti has found both challenges and success in his door knocking campaign.
“When I go out at residents door step they do listen and share what needs to be done to make this city great again,” he said.
Social media has been easier as Bhatti said he already had a presence on Facebook before he began his campaign.
“Social media interactions is quite successful as people already know a lot about my views online,” said Bhatti.
In talking with Chestermere residents Bhatti said the common theme has been a desire to have a mayor who can relate to their problems from first hand experience.
“People are looking for a problem solver with professional qualifications and proven public service experience,”
As voters go to the polls, Bhatti pledges that if he is elected to “strive to put a full stop on CUI and City’s malpractices.
“I will empower all of you, together we will make Chestermere affordable and great again,” he said.
Deciding to run for Mayor was a tough decision for Ray Blanchard.
“I’m 76…I don’t have the stamina I had when I was younger, but I have the determination,” he said.
He went with his determination and decided to run because he wants to see changes in Chestermere.
Since he started campaigning in earnest, Blanchard said he’s been struck with how friendly Chestermerians are.
“I’ve been on other campaigns and I’ve never talked to as friendly a crowd as this,” he said.
Blanchard has been campaigning with a focus on ideas.
His biggest concerns centre around the water table in the city and then need for responsible development.
“I was surprised how many people have agreed with me,” he said.
Regardless of the outcome of the election, Blanchard feels that it has been important to raise awarness of the issues surrounding the water table and how it will impact future development with his campaign.
“I believe we have the money to make a good set of rules that’ll help us in the future,” he said.
As the first candidate to announce his intention to run, Marshall Chalmers had a head start on his door knocking campaign.
As he’s spoken with residents, Chalmers said that he has found a clear mandate for what people want from the next mayor.
“I’ve met so many residents who have expressed their frustration and their fears about what is going on in our community.
“I’ve heard them begging for solutions and wanting the solutions quickly,” he said.
He recognizes that people want change but cautions that to make the right changes will take time
“I know that it’s going to take a lot of investigation, careful consideration and a steady hand on the wheel,” he said.
People have told him they want strong leadership with open, honest communication with residents.
Chalmers is grateful for these conversations and hopes to be able to continue having them as Mayor.
“We have a great City full of great people.
“Let’s work together to chart a more sustainable and positive path forward,” said Chalmers.
Jeff Hodgson has been campaigning with a positive vision for Chestermere’s future.
“I am promoting a positive message of back-to-basics priorities and little by little people have been coming over to my side,” he said.
Since nomination day Hodgson said he has been finding more and more success as he knocks on doors, meets with residents and builds support.
“I have a lot of council candidates on my side and I think when it comes time to get started after the election, we’ll hit the ground running with a unified vision,” said Hodgson.
He said that the people he’s spoken with want a mayor who is engaged, cares and is willing to do the right thing.
“They want a mayor with integrity and transparency,” he said.
With an entierly new council being elected, Hodgson said it is important for voters to consider who they vote for and why.
“This election will change the course of Chestermere for better or for worse and it’s up to voters to make that informed decision,” he said.
Understanding the issues facing Chestermere while always being open to residents questions and suggestions is of utmost importance for Ryan Roch as he campaigns to be the next Mayor of Chestermere.
“Social discourse and discussion is a foundation of the process, and we should encourage it,” he said.
Making sure that everyone gets a chance to voice their opinion has been both a challenge and a goal for his campaign.
“My goal is regardless of how long it takes; I want to hear everyone out,” said Roch.
As he has been campaigning, Roch said that he has been told that Chestermerians want to feel they can trust city council again.
“They want to know that their elected officials are here to make the hard choices and represent them.
“They also want a Mayor who is involved with residents,” he said.
He is encouraging everyone to vote for the candidates whose views resonates with them.
“Municipal politics is still the one place you can have someone represent your interests,” said Roch.