Russel Gingrich is running for mayor.
Gingrich has served nine years on the district council, five of them as a councillor and four of them as mayor. Gingrich was the Mayor of Fort St. James in the 80s, along with his first term as a councillor. His most recent stint as a councillor was from 2011 to 2014.
He has lived in Fort St. James for the last 53 years, and he says in that time, he has been involved in several different events and organizations over the years. “I feel that I have a lot to offer the community. I have some fresh ideas, and also there’s certain things that I feel should be done. And they can’t be done over night, and I know the past council has tried to do them and naturally I’d like to carry on some of what the past council has started.”
He wants to start by reviewing the budget. “I naturally have opinions on where the money should go and how it is spent … so one objective is to see where the funds go and what benefit they provide for the community. Another one is the infrastructure; the water and sewer, the roads. I’d like to put a paving program in place. Our side streets are in dire need of upgrading, and hopefully we can come up with the money to be able to do that, to put a program in place to [pave] two or three streets per year.”
A past volunteer with Seniors Helping Seniors, Gingrich says he is concerned with the health of the community, on behalf of seniors as well as youth. He says he has an interest in continuing Seniors Helping Seniors, as it enables some seniors to remain in Fort St. James, rather than moving to a larger town for care. “It’s definitely a benefit, a huge benefit to our community.”
The Senior Society is another organization he would like to see get more attention.
Gingrich would also like to institute an open-door policy for council. He says he would like to see any discussions that have gone on in council be added to the district’s website for the public to access.
He would also like council to come up with more activities and programs to keep youth active and occupied.
Gingrich says a council cannot be self-serving, but it must “be aggressive in order to achieve [its goals] and I feel like I am. I believe I can benefit the community by my thoughts and my character, and based on what I feel – and that’s all with council’s blessing, of course.”
Gingrich worked as a trucker for 34 years and was self-employed for 40 years. Now, he works for a local contractor. “I retired seven years ago – except I didn’t. I retired for maybe the first six months and then I felt that I had to be doing something more, and so I did … I still work in the bush, so I can’t – I won’t be idle, is what I’m saying. And I’m always trying to come up with fresh ideas.”