Kirk Pollard has watched what has gone on in Westlock County over the last year and is ready to act.
Pollard, an employee at Westlock Terminals who lives on a century-old family farm in Div. 4, is entering the fray for the Oct. 16 Municipal Election. Pollard joins division hopefuls Brian Coleman and John Zeise in the race.
“I hadn’t really thought of running before last year, but I always said there’s a lot of people come election time that don’t even bother to vote, but during the term they don’t have a problem criticizing the people that are in,” he said.
“I’m really interested in seeing things turn around at the county. My biggest hope is even if I don’t get elected, whoever does can accomplish what needs to be done.”
Last summer, Pollard attended several council meetings and how the gallery was filled to standing room only.
‘Well, the election’s next year and the county’s kind of in a mess right now and the guy in my division isn’t running, so somebody’s got to step in and turn things around.”
His biggest concern is what came out of the municipal inspection report released late last month. Although he hasn’t read the entire report, he did see the response.
“I read the comments of some people and nobody was surprised by what the outcome was. If you’re surprised by the outcome, you haven’t been living here. I think that’s why there was so much interest in these meetings last summer, because shortly after we started attending those meetings was when the county asked to be investigated.”
His concern coming out of that was the Horizon North industrial park deal where then-CAO Peter Kelly authorized hundreds of thousands of dollars in transactions without council approval.
“If I would have been on council, I would have said no. Why not leave that on him and let him face the consequences for overstepping his boundaries?
“You got to have accountability so when you make a decision, I’ve served on boards for other things and you actually can end up financially responsible for some of the decisions you make if things go south. There’s consequences for everything.”
Pollard, who has sat for six years as a board member and then president of the Purebred Cattle Association, an interprovincial association between B.C. and Alberta, back in the 90s and currently serves on the Wild Rose REA board, said that if he were to sit on council, he would be well-educated on the issues before voting on them.
He is also concerned with the county’s financial status and stability. Although he would like to lower taxes, he said he would counter that by attracting more industry to the area.
He noted that Westlock County has the highest non-residential mill rate and third highest residential mill rate compared to eight other municipalities in the inspection report.
“If other communities with similar size and populations can get by with lower taxes, we should be able too. You’ve got to control your spending.”
Using the Town of Westlock’s industrial parks and how it managed to generate revenue by attracting business, he said the county could do the same.
“Are there industries we can attract? Is there somebody we can bring in? There’s got to be things you can do to generate some type of revenue.”
As someone who’s great-uncle homesteaded the land five years before Westlock’s formation and nine years before Westlock became a town, he holds the success of the county in high importance, especially for the future of his five-year-old son.
“My family has deep roots in the community and that’s why I’m concerned seeing it the way things are going.
If elected, he said he would bring a younger perspective to the table.
“First of all, I think there’s going to be a big learning curve for anybody that’s new and I think there’s going to be a lot of new faces on council, by the looks of it,” he said, “I think that it shows a lot of people are unhappy. It’s easy to criticize the people that are there, unless you’re willing to do something, like throw your name in the ring and run.”