Jennifer Howell is running for district council.
Howell has never served on council, but she started attending council meetings on a semi-regular basis about a year ago. Although she hasn’t attended every meeting in that time, she says she has been to most of them.
Attending the meetings piqued her interest and she decided she wanted to be involved. “I wanted to have the opportunity to speak, to help make beneficial decisions on behalf of the taxpayers,” says Howell.
Howell is retired from RBC Royal Bank, where she was the manager of client care and supervised about five employees.
She has lived in Fort St. James for 43 years, and it’s where she chose to raise her family. Although she isn’t currently involved with these organizations, she has spent time volunteering with and involved in minor hockey, the figure skating club, the Fort St. James Curling Club, the Royal Canadian Legion, and the Fort St. James Music Makers.
Her main goal is to provide a voice for the people she has spent the last year talking to.
Much of what she has heard from community about council calls for adjustments to the way the council works and a change in “strategic direction.”
To start, she says the council needs to become more proactive and institute a new performance management program to hold them accountable, rather than continuing with the current complaint management system.
“I would also like to support the elected official being visible at the district office more often,” says Howell. “I think we need an open-door policy. I believe the public needs to have that there if they choose to drop in to the district office with concerns, comments, whatever they may have … And it should be on a regular basis.”
She also looked over this year’s budget. “I was a little overwhelmed,” she says, adding that she found it very interesting.
Moving forward, Howell thinks there are some questions that need to be addressed. “Are we running comparatively to other districts our size in the north? How can we curb unnecessary spending? I feel there is unnecessary spending. We need to maintain a surplus of funds in our reserve accounts; we have water, we have sewer, and we need that money for future upgrades and projects. It needs to be there.”
Howell would like to “maintain a sustainable economy.” She adds: “We need to meet the needs of our community, present and future. We need to explore ways to encourage new business and to provide a business climate to encourage new expenditures.”
She also wants to encourage senior housing. “We’re all aging in this community, we have a lot of families here. And we need to be able to have a place for them, where they can go if they need to.”
Seniors Helping Seniors is something else she would like to see grow. She says it’s a “great program” but she would like to see if it can be expanded to include support for seniors who live on their own.
Howell says there’s going to be a learning curve if she is elected, but she’s ready for it. “I’m willing to learn. I’m willing to listen. And I’m willing to work continuously for our community. And I’m committed to be their voice. And I really want them to know that I’m here. I’ve been there, I’ve been in their shoes. I’m ready for this challenge.
“I just feel working together as a team we can achieve big things great things.”