ATHABASCA - Let’s talk — that’s the slogan Athabasca town council hopeful Loretta Prosser wants voters to take to heart as she embarks on her first political campaign at a pivotal time in Athabasca and world history.
Prosser is a local product, having spent 20 years in the area, and graduating from Boyle School, where she attended her entire school career, before coming to Athabasca about 10 years ago. She is now raising her two children with common law spouse Tom, and enjoying her job as administrative operations assistant in the Office of the Vice President Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at Athabasca University, where she has been for four years. Previous to that she worked in administration in the energy sector as well.
“I decided to run for councillor because I want to help,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “The world is in chaos right now and seeing our local government is what actually affects us as a community … I want to make a valuable difference.”
The fact that she works for AU, in the department that is spearheading the near-virtual future of the institution, which has been the subject of lobbying effort by citizens of the area, isn’t lost on her either, and she recognizes that going forward, there will be a line she has to walk to fulfil her professional and municipal duties, if she is elected.
AU administration is aware she is running, and she has gone through the human resources hoops to declare herself as a candidate, but says she will have to declare a conflict of interest at work meetings and excuse herself if certain issues arise, which she is prepared to do.
That said, she has no issue saying she is fully in favour of having more AU-related employment in the region, and recognizes the institution was put here in the first place as a way of promoting rural development.
And while the relationship between the university and the community will likely be a prominent issue in the coming campaign, Prosser points out there are other issues she would like to tackle as well.
One of those is a regional transportation option for seniors and low-income residents, a situation she would like to work with the county to improve.
“I know that we have these residents in our county. And now, just for daily supplies and stuff like that, just getting to town is an issue, and then with the bus service you also are increasing business in town,” she said in a Sept. 17 interview.
Another is the vandalism that repeatedly occurs in Athabasca, often at the hands of the same offenders. Many of them are unhoused and dealing with mental health issues, and that needs to be carefully looked at, she said.
Also on her radar is an audit of the town’s bylaws, which need to be reviewed to determine whether they are economically feasible when resources are limited. Policies that see a town employee transport stray animals to other towns, is one example she gave.
Prosser said she also feels her membership as part of AU’s equity, diversity and inclusion committee will be a valuable addition to the new council, and she would like to contribute to municipal committees that promote those values as well.
“I am extremely proud to be a part of this committee,” she said, adding that as the mother of two adopted children with special needs she wants to be a part of a world where they have every opportunity to succeed.
Prosser wants to talk, and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.