WESTLOCK – Francis Cloutier has been a volunteer firefighter for 20 years, a mechanic, worked in the construction industry, owned a trucking company and has even been a farmer.
And now the Division 4 resident is looking to add a new bullet to his resume — Westlock County councillor. Cloutier, who was one of four candidates to seek the Division 4 seat in the 2017 municipal election, said he’s always believed in the community and wants to give back.
Incumbent Brian Coleman has already announced he won’t seek re-election, while just this past week Lisa Germann announced her candidacy for Division 4.
“I think I can help out, I’m hoping I can,” the 59-year-old Cloutier said Sept. 3. “I’m getting older and maybe a bit wiser. My wife keeps asking me why I want to run, everyone is going to hate you. And my neighbours are all saying, ‘Really?!’ But I’ve always been a volunteer and tried to help out in the community. And maybe I can be a guy who can help steer the county in the right direction. I think I can bring a different set of eyes.”
As a lifelong Westlock County resident, Cloutier is well-versed in the No. 1 issue that is at the tip of the lips of most ratepayers, roads. Harkening back to his 2017 campaign, Cloutier again suggested more training for the grader operators as a good start and noted that the county’s road system was originally built for much smaller vehicles and suggested that the entire network may need to be revamped.
Enticing more businesses and young families into the county is also a goal, but ultimately he’s looking forward to getting out in the division and asking ratepayers what their top issues are.
“Election time is good as I get to meet more of my neighbours. They joke that they only see me every four years and we only live a quarter-mile away,” he said with a laugh.
“I want to keep an open mind and hear what people have to say.”
Broadly speaking, Cloutier shakes his head at many of the decisions made over the past 20 years in the municipality and says that local, historical knowledge, as well as good old fashioned common sense, has been sorely lacking.
“The new chalet at the ski hill is one. We were all born here, we know it’s a slough and they put it there anyways. We used to do mud bogs there, you couldn’t park a car there,” he continued. “Stuff like that. Was there any research done? My brother was asked to do the concrete work there and he refused so they got a guy out of the city to do it. It’s decisions like that which are frustrating for ratepayers.”