By COLLIN GALLANT on September 15, 2021.
Ted Clugston says he’s ready to make Medicine Hat a dynamic city in a third term as mayor, but also laid into the media, “the left” and unions during a taped campaign kick-off speech posted online Tuesday.
“Let’s make the election about municipal politics, the future of Medicine Hat, and put petty grievances in the past and move forward together,” he concluded.
“What separates me from the other candidates is that I love this city and I’ve proven it.”
During a 23-minute video, the two-term mayor stands beside a video screen flashing pictures of recent city and private-sector projects. He outlined two main campaign planks – budget control and a plan to build new rec facilities, to replace aging ones – defended his minimalist approach to handling the COVID pandemic, and backs business development done by Invest Medicine Hat.
He called controversy of the city exploring options to potentially sell the power plant an overreaction, and mentioned other criticisms were hurtful to the city and himself.
Opponents Linnsie Clark and Alan Rose have been highly critical of how the city handled a bid to outsource investment attraction services and city land development this summer. Five candidates are running for mayor in the Oct. 18 election.
Several of a record number of councillor candidates have said Clugston’s ‘no’ vote to a mask bylaw spurred them to join the race.
He said he has tried to work for “COVID calm” in the city.
“Everyone has an idea about COVID and how they could have done it better,” he said. “However, for the future of the municipality, the next four years will be much more important that when COVID is hopefully gone.”
“I’ve never seen so much blatant hatred spewed by candidates,” he said later.
“I’ve made enemies, the union has come after me,” along with traditional media and those on social media.
“There are a very small number of chronic complainers who call my office every day, but the average resident is just working hard,” he said.
A new platform document lays out two major items.
Clugston endorses the accelerated Financially Fit program that will cut $15 million out of the budget this year. That is to fill a structural deficit caused when gas profits dried up in the early 2010s.
Also well, he plans to push for heavy reinvestment in parks and recreation development, much of which was released earlier Tuesday at a council committee meeting.
A preview of a final report suggests closing community-based facilities and building regional multi-use facilities.
Along with a major long-term vision to redevelop Echo Dale, Clugston says he will push for an outdoor pool and waterpark in the south end – a long simmering issue for south-end residents.
Clugston says a new ice facility would be located in the “north end,” likely referring to a multi-plex proposal first discussed by the Box Springs Business Group in 2013 and mentioned as “an example” by Clugston several times this year.
“We need new ice facilities, the user groups are asking for them, and to host tournaments you need them under one roof in the north,” he said on the video.
“It can be done without raising taxes; we have the means and reserves to do it.”
His website highlights the creation of the heritage savings reserve, and business development.
“They’ve all happened, they’ve come true and I think I’ve proven I’m a doer, not a talker,” he said.
[Editor’s note: This version of the story has been altered to correct typographical errors.]