Ron Gariepy is running for mayor of Slave Lake in the April 3 byelection. The 34-year resident is a semi-retired oilfield consultant, whose idea for how to run a town is quite different than what’s usual.
Gariepy is in favour of a type of participatory democracy, with citizens a lot more involved in the process.
“What I’d like to see happen is for people to be able to vote on what we decide in council,” Gariepy says. “I’d like to feel the heartbeat of the town in the decisions we have to make.”
Gariepy envisions a system involving QR codes for all voters to facilitate ease in voting. Along with that would be a system of the town providing information on whatever the issues are to be voted on.
“Everybody should have a say in everything,” he says. “It would tell us where we’re really at. People I talk to – they think they should have more say in how their taxes are spent, if they should be.”
It would be complicated to implement, Gariepy says, but the technology exists. Once it’s in place, he figures it could work well.
That’s about it for the Gariepy election platform. He says he doesn’t want to comment or speculate about other issues or objectives, because he thinks the citizens should be deciding what’s important.
Gariepy came to Slave Lake in the 1980s from southern B.C. and went to work in the oil and gas industry. He did that as a laborer for 17 years, followed by 17 years operating his own consulting business. Along the way he and his wife Florence had three daughters and now have nine grandchildren. He doesn’t do oilpatch work any more.
“In winter I plow snow for a company in town and landscaping in the summer.”
As far as campaigning goes, Gariepy says he’s “going to leave that up to the people.” If there’s a candidates forum, he says he’d be happy to participate.