CANDIDATE: Roly Russell (RDKB -- Area D)

Please give a brief summary of who you are and why you have decided to run for office.

 I love this place; I want to build upon the good things we've got, and fix the things that are wrong.  Before moving back to rural Grand Forks (I was born here, and grew up here) with my wife Christine Carlson to have and raise our two children, I lived in a number of places around the world primarily studying the natural and social sciences.  My previous work was focused on very large scale concerns with broad implications but little tangible outcome; I was eager to balance this with smaller scale but more significant local action, which is part of why I am pleased to be your local government representative and eager to continue working on your behalf into the future.

 What is your background? Have you held office before? What skills do you bring to the job if you are elected?

I am a father, farmer, academic, and politician.  Currently I hold the position as Director of RDKB Area D, and have done so for nearly two years.  Irene Perepolkin, the director elected in 2011, appointed me as her alternate.  When Irene fell ill in January of 2013, I assumed the position and have been acting in full capacity as director since that date.  I feel as though one of the biggest challenges of effective local government representatives is making wise decisions in the face of incomplete and often biased information; my background involves studying how people (and groups) make decisions, particularly under uncertainty.  Having spent the last 22 months as director, I have been immersed in active decision-making for our community; I enjoy it and it feel as though I do a good job while also contributing a fresh perspective to the board of directors.  I have volunteered a great deal to this community, through non-profit societies (e.g. I was a founding director of the Agricultural Society, and heavily involved with establishment of the Kettle Valley Food Co-op), as well as serving as a director for the Grand Forks Credit Union since 2010, where I am currently vice-chair of the board and chair of the Community and Member Relations Committee.  I encourage you to speak with any of my colleagues on the RDKB board, on the Credit Union board, or elsewhere in the community to get their sense of how I work and what I contribute to making our community thrive. 

What do you think are the top three challenges facing the city/region/school district in the upcoming term?

I feel as though the challenges of local government can be distilled down to better (1) Thinking, (2) Communicating, and (3) Acting on issues important in our community.   

THINKING: To make wise decisions throughout the Regional District, there needs to be more thought put into issues on behalf of your elected representatives.  A good example of where this is particularly relevant is the Agricultural Land Reserve.  This is an extremely complex issue that involves superficial tensions between our future food security, freedom of local land owners to make decisions about their lands, and local economic sustainability.  I have spent a great deal of time reading, learning, and thinking about these issues, and have been clear in conversations with our current Minister of Agriculture regarding my assessments of these issues.  

COMMUNICATING: To be effective, we need to be open minded, and ready to communicate honestly and collaborate without prejudice.  The relationship between the City of Grand Forks and Rural Grand Forks (Area D) is a prime example if this.  Past communications were stilted and unproductive because of historical vendettas that had no place stalemating current collaborations.  Rural Grand Forks supports our city centre, and our city centre supports Rural Grand Forks.  We absolutely need to work effectively together to build a better community.  Collaborating doesn't restrict independence; we need both.

ACTING: In my time on the Regional District board, it is clear that it takes little time or effort to do a poor job, and that it takes an enormous amount of time and energy to do a good job.  Reacting only to the obligatory decisions and failing to act upon ideas is unproductive.  I think it's time we build a community hall in our area, and I'm convinced that we can deliver this without adding any tax burden on our residents by leveraging partnerships and securing grant funding. Give me the social license, an engaged group of residents, and I want to make this happen.

How do you plan on addressing these challenges?

Making decisions that lead to a thriving economy means breaking down complex problems into the social, ecological, and financial components that underpin a healthy economy, and making sense of these complexities.  Then communicating and deliberating about how to move forward wisely, and finally acting upon the decisions made to deliver the outcomes.  I can, and will, do these things.  If I didn't feel as though I would do a better job than the other candidates, I would withdraw from this election. 

I would like to lead: 

  • the Regional District to become more proactive in making Rural Grand Forks better, rather than simply reactive, 
  • the visioning and building of a community centre that serves as an agricultural demonstration area and is funded from grants and championed by locals,
  • Area D ahead without significant tax increase by cutting some costs to maintain service rates,
  • encouragement of new modes of citizen engagement and transparent ways to make your voices heard by local government, and us in becoming  a community that thrives economically because we've made wise decisions to support a healthy environment and create a vibrant social context for resilient and stable creative economy.

If you could describe yourself in three words what would they be?

Thoughtful, Compassionate, Analytical.

What is the one thing that makes you stand out as a candidate? OR What is the one thing you want people to know about you? 

My life has been dedicated to making the world a healthier and happier place; with your blessing, this is what I think I can and will do for our community.

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