Former Canmore mayor Ron Casey is throwing his white cowboy hat into the ring to run for the top political job again in the upcoming municipal election.
While incumbent and current Mayor John Borrowman and Councillor Ed Russell have announced thier candidacy, former mayor and Progressive Conservative MLA Ron Casey said in an interview with the Outlook, it is his intent to seek the office of mayor when the municipal election is held on Oct. 16.
Casey stepped down as mayor in 2012 after being elected for the provincial position. A byelection afterwards saw Borrowman elected to the job and re-elected in 2014 for what was the very first four-year municipal term in Alberta.
“I still want to be involved,” said the longtime politician. “At some level it does get into your blood. I have no interest in being involved at the provincial level, I have been there and I don’t ever need to be there again.”
Casey was unseated as MLA for Banff-Cochrane in 2015 when NDP candidate Cameron Westhead orange crushed him at his attempt to win a second term in the legislature with the PC party.
The former mayor and MLA called his experience in Edmonton a “good learning experience” and an “opportunity to learn a little bit more about government and governance.
“I think this is an opportunity to share some of that back with the community again.”
Casey said through his defeat in the last provincial election he has learned how important it is to have meaningful public engagement and not just “a bunch of open houses and polls.
“Actually getting out and talking to grassroots people on the ground … one thing I learned was how valuable that component is and when it is missing it is truly missing and you lose touch with your constituents,” he said.
“It is a lot of face time and a lot of energy, but at the end of the day you likely come as close to the right decision as you can ever get.”
Getting the community of Canmore together to talk with each other is a priority for Casey going into the municipal election.
He said people will be less likely to be angry and upset if you hear them out and understand their reasons for concern on any particular issue in the community.
“What I would like to see is a legislated process of engagement, not a policy,” he said, referring to the Town of Canmore’s current public engagement process. “I want to see engagement legislated by bylaw.”
He also thinks there is a larger role for council to play in the creation of policy. Through “deliberative democracy,” a term he admits he has borrowed from other politicians, the community can expect a system that enshrines dialogue and deliberation between administration, council and the community to craft policies.
“It is a system of governance that recognizes the value of that deliberation, but also recognizes that at the end of the day, the people elected will at some point have to make a decision,” he said.
Casey has been a resident of Canmore since 1973, when he moved to the community with his wife Pennie.