October 13, 2013 6:20 pm
Updated: October 18, 2013 6:03 pm

St. Albert’s election race takes nasty turn

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EDMONTON- With Election Day just over a week away, the race in St. Albert has taken a nasty turn. And it’s not the candidates who are causing the controversy.

A number of anonymous, third-party groups have emerged in St. Albert, against mayoral incumbent Nolan Crouse’s campaign.

St. Albert Insight,’ whose website has been removed, released a modified picture that shows Crouse sitting on a toilet, eluding to the fact that he’s throwing taxpayer’s dollars down the toilet.

stalbert-insight

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“I don’t think that one should ever be surprised by, necessarily, negative campaigning. It’s really done at the highest level of politics,” Nolan Crouse said Sunday. “I guess it would stand to reason that there would be some of this go on at (a) municipal (level).”

“I think the idea behind them was probably comic relief, but still distasteful at this point in time,” said Crouse’s only opponent Shelley Biermanski. “But there’s lots of other things like that, towards me and whatever, that I just leave unreported. Why bring attention to it? It’s not the focus of the election.”

The St. Albert Think Tank has also emerged. Its website says it was “created from a grass roots group of concerned citizens who wanted to provide a venue to learn and share the issues concerning St. Albert.”

The Think Tank disagrees with some of the City’s current plans and has made that clear on its website. There are even signs lining the streets of St. Albert outlining which candidates those behind the Think Tank believe voters should cast their ballots for.

stalbert-thinktank-sign

Most of the Think Tank’s membership is anonymous, but a spokesperson insists the tactics are not about being negative.

In a statement provided to Global News, Gord Hennigar says “The St. Albert Think Tank has not ever done an ad campaign against Nolan Crouse. Our focus is and has remained on presenting facts to the public about serious issues facing St. Albert.”

Biermanski says she looks at the Think Tank’s approach as “democracy at its finest.”

“People are actually getting out, taking an interest,” she explained. “I think these groups just basically want to get their voice heard is what it is. The Think Tank, in particular, the information that I’ve read that they’ve put out is just all public information.

“I look at is as power to the people and thank them for pushing me, that’s excellent.”

Crouse says he’d prefer to ignore the messages and focus on pushing the city’s issues in a positive light.

“I think the philosophy should be let’s attack the issues and not the people.”

And it appears some St. Albert residents would prefer to ignore the ads as well.

“I think it’s pretty low, whoever put that out, that they have to go to such heights to try and put somebody down. Why don’t they say the good that they will do if they’re campaigning against him, instead of putting somebody down,” said one woman who was out for a walk with her husband Sunday afternoon.

“I find those sorts of strategies to attract attention very disappointing,” said another St. Albert resident. “I’d rather hear positive descriptions of what people are willing to contribute.”

With Election Day just eight days away, both Biermanski and Crouse say they’ll be focusing on one thing- their campaigns.

“Getting the taxes in order, getting City Hall accountable for finances and listening to the people. Development in the city is out of control right now too, we don’t have a municipal planning board, we need to get that back in place,” Biermanski explained. “Lots of issues in St. Albert currently.”

“I think that if you look at the key issues that are facing St. Albert, it’s really trying to preserve the integrity of our high ranking of a community to live in,” Crouse said. “We’ve got to plan for the next 50 years… In 50 years we, realistically, are probably going to be 125,000, maybe even 140,000 depending on growth. So you do have to be planning 50 years because that’s only two and a half generations, and that goes by pretty quickly.”

St. Albert residents will cast their ballots on October 21.

With files from Tom Vernon, Global News.

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