2017 municipal election candidate profiles

Robert Esau for M.D. council

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Word on the street is that at least one of the three incumbents could go down to defeat in Div. 1 of the M.D. of Lesser Slave Lake. Robert Esau doesn’t want to be one of them, which is probably why he was already campaigning on the Labour Day weekend. His candidacy for a third term on council was in no doubt as he announced it by way of an entry in the Smith/Hondo Fall Fair parade.
‘Re-elect Robert Esau,’ said a big sign on his truck.
It’s tougher this time. In 2013 the side was acclaimed in Div. 1. Esau says he’s counting on his reputation and his record to help him get in again.
“It’s awkward being the incumbent,” he says. “But I’m not going to change. I feel I’ve been a good (representative). I’ve supported our end well.”
Esau also makes the point that individuals don’t accomplish anything on council; it’s teamwork that moves the agenda along. He emphasized that very thing in a campaign ad he placed in The Leader last week.
Roads and drainage are a big and lasting issue in the Flatbush area. Esau says if re-elected he’ll continue to speak up for improvements there, but adds that 2017 was an anomaly in how wet it was.
“Most of the summer made the M.D. look bad,” he says.
Esau is a life-long resident of Flatbush, where the farm has been in the family since 1929. He and wife Jean raised three daughters there. Besides farming, Esau – now 68 years old and retired – was in the lumber business for many years.
“I probably hired a third to a half of the community at one time or another,” he says.
Esau says a life principle for him is that everybody gets treated fairly and that you don’t expect something from somebody else that you won’t do or haven’t done yourself.
“One thing I’ve learned is you never get more out of life than what you’re willing to put into it,” he says.

Darren Fulmore for M.D. council

Joe McWillilams
Lakeside Leader

“I want to make a difference for my community,” says Darren Fulmore.
That was Fulmore’s answer – or at least the start of his answer – to the question, ‘Why are you running for M.D. council?’
Fulmore has been making a difference as an M.D. councillor for the past seven years, representing Division I. That’s two terms, and he’s seeking a third one in the Oct. 16 municipal election. Far from wearing him down, he says he enjoys the opportunity to play a role in securing benefits for the community, and looks forward to doing more of it.
Fulmore lists the “unburdening” of community group responsibility for operating halls and arenas as a positive accomplishment of the past few years, as well as providing grants to those same groups to help them run programs.
Whatever the local concern is, Fulmore says he enjoys having the ability to present it to his colleagues in council for discussion and debate. One thing he’ll be pursuing if re-elected, he says, is the issue of the loss of Smith’s curling rink, and how to get it back.
Asked specifically about the state of the Old Smith Highway, Fulmore says he drives it and is aware of its condition. For him, “repairing the base,” should be the priority for the M.D., so that it “would stand up to the heavy loads.” The section between Tollenaar Bridge and Tiger Calcium is good, he says; from there to Smith is the part that needs rebuilding.
Fulmore is 56 years old and with his wife runs a cattle ranch near Smith. In addition to M.D. council he’s a director of SHARA and also sits on the Smith Community Development Council. He’s also active with his local church.
Born in Edmonton and raised there and in Kingston Ontario, Fulmore came to Smith to try farming about 26 years ago.

Brad Pearson for M.D. council

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Brad Pearson of Canyon Creek is seeking re-election as an M.D. councillor for a second term. He calls himself ‘your dollars and sense’ councillor.
The ‘dollars’ part refers to how careful he is in spending other people’s money. As for the ‘sense’ part of his slogan, he says if something doesn’t make sense, the M.D. shouldn’t do it.
“I’m no accountant,” he says. “But I do know you can’t spend more than you have.”
The philosophy is simple, but applying it is complicated. Tough decisions sometimes have to be made.
“For example, pavement and streetlights can’t be everywhere,” Pearson says. “It depends on taxation and population.”
Also: “We have to keep service levels to a level we can afford.”
Pearson says he’s proud the M.D. has been able to keep taxes relatively the same for the past four years. He’s also pleased the M.D. has relieved community groups of the burden of looking after public facilities in hamlets, applying uniform policies across the board. Ensuring public access to lakes and rivers is another project Pearson takes pride in, and has advocated for and will continue to, he says.
“It’s important to me.”
The topic of inter-municipal relations comes up (inevitably, these days). Pearson says the M.D. needs to “stick to its guns,” with regard to what it thinks it should and shouldn’t be paying for in its agreements with the Town of Slave Lake. But he also stresses that the two bodies have to work things out, seeing no other reasonable alternative.
“As Slave Lake goes, so goes the M.D.,” he says. “I’m optimistic about it.”
One thing Pearson would like to see is the development of playground/park space in the Poplar Lane area. There are a lot of kids out there, he says. Going further, he says he thinks a trail connection to the Slave Lake trail system is desirable and do-able. He may have been hearing about both those topics in his campaigning in the area – he says (as of Oct. 3) he had knocked on 100 doors there “and I bet that’s only half of them.”
He’s also been talking to the folks on Bayer Road, and says if re-elected he’ll be bringing up their desire for water line connection.
Pearson is 55 years old and retired from a career in the oilfield. He says he doesn’t see how anybody with a full time job could do the work of a councillor properly.
“I sit on eight boards!” he says.

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