Cochrane Councillor Ross Watson is vying for re-election this October.
Watson has years of experience when it comes to municipal politics and has seen incredible change since first elected to represent Cochrane in '95.
"Part of that is why I actually want to run again, Cochrane for as long as I have lived here has always wanted to be basically its own town. The looming threat of urban sprawl from Calgary had a little danger in making us a bedroom community. I think progressive councils have thought our best chance is to grow the town and be a complete self-sufficient entity."
Watson says he not only wants residents to live in Cochrane but offer enough services/amenities that people don't necessarily have to leave. "If that meant a rec facility like Spray Lake Sawmills, or services in town like medical services. I can see it. We will be an autonomous town, we will have our own identity and it's nice to be part of something like that."
Even though council and administration will see a lot of transition this year, Watson saw greater change in 1995 when a new CAO (Julian deCocq), mayor, and five new councillors were elected.
Watson, adds not everything will be easy this term; bridge and interchange construction will hopefully be started if not wrapping up as well as other priorities he feels are important.
"We desperately need two more rail crossings; a pedestrian crossing downtown and we need a minimum of a pedestrian crossing at Horse Creek Road. We need to talk to Alberta Health Services, I believe we need to bring in ultrasound and 24 hour urgent care, and I would like us in the next term to atleast lay the ground work and have a definite plan for a community/cultural hub."
Transit will be a hot button issue and whether or not residents will want to pay. "Although so many people want it, it will mean a tax increase. Cochrane has enjoyed low tax increases for quite a few years. So will people buy into that?!"
Over the past term, Watson feels council has poised Cochrane for some exciting things but nothing is a guarantee. "You still have to work at getting them here, that is where I see it now. The things that we want going into the future for Cochrane are tentative right now."
For anyone thinking of throwing their hat in the ring, Watson says be aware of the time commitment. "In this next term they will have to manage their schedules so they can be available; because we haven't made that transition to a point where a councillor could be a full time job. We aren't big enough for a full time council but we do need a committed council."
Watson suggests even though there are only a few names so far seeking candidacy, now is a good time to get to know them and what they stand for. Looking back over his political career, he shares campaigning looks totally different today then what it did years ago. "I remember four years ago when I was campaigning and I was on the stage. I said Cochrane is a different place, there was a time when everybody knew you so you were judged on who you were. Now candidates really have to get out and have the people know them; candidates will certainly be out there trying to be known to people but I would suggest to the voters to seek out the people in Cochrane who are running."