By COLLIN GALLANT on September 24, 2021.
A man who spent nearly 40 days on life support suffering from COVID-19 this spring says he is well enough and invigorated to run the election campaign he first planned in 2020.
Paul Hemsing also says he doesn’t want his long recovery from the disease to overshadow the issues in the Medicine Hat city council race, and stresses the seriousness of the pandemic.
“I really feel that I can bring some vibrancy and a businessman’s perspective to council,” Hemsing told the News on Thursday.
He was one of the last to enter a race of more than 30 candidates for eight council seats, which will be decided on Oct. 18.
His main points are improving city’s interactions with the public, support for downtown development through the “Waterfront District” plan, and good budgeting.
“We have to be responsible, but we can’t get a reputation as one of these places that just cuts, cuts, cuts,” he said, noting economic development, population growth, and the generally “disgruntled” nature of residents need to be tackled.
“I would like to see better communication from the city. These are important, expensive choices that are being made by businesses and it should all be very clear,” he said.
“I know the city does surveys and town halls to get people involved, but I’d like the city to be more up front, otherwise people are disgruntled, that spreads on social media, and then soon everyone is in the ball game.”
Hemsing, who is well known as a charity fundraiser in the city, has been the owner of Salon Purity for the last 23 years.
He was raised in Rolling Hills, Alta., and has two adult children.
Hemsing became ill with COVID-19 in late May, about one month after his first vaccination, and later detailed his hospitalization and long recuperation process progress on a web journal through the summer. A lingering physical impairment has reduced the time he can work cutting hair, which frees him up for civic responsibilities, he said.
“I really didn’t feel like I would be in a place where I felt I could run, but I now feel I’m at about 95 per cent,” he said, adding he supports public health measures and would have liked to see council act with local measures this summer ahead of the current fourth wave.
He fully supports the recently announced plan to spur redevelopment in the downtown and sees an urban “meeting place” as a draw for new residents and businesses.
“We’ve done well attracting a number of chain restaurants and hotels, but it’s been uneven,” he said.
He said that “in the long-run” it could be beneficial to replace older recreation centres with new regional facilities – one of the recommendations of a coming parks and recreation plan.