It’s officially a race.
Cranbrook resident Lee Pratt will be running for mayor against incumbent Wayne Stetski in the upcoming municipal election. So far, only Pratt and Stetski have announced their candidacy for the mayor’s seat.
Pratt, who is retired after long careers in the auto-industrial sales and financial industries, decided to run after becoming concerned with the state of growth and economic development.
“I’ve lived here all my life, and over the past few years, especially the last three years I’ve seen Cranbrook, it’s just not growing,” said Pratt. “It’s become stagnant. Along with that, we’ve had an increase in costs, services, taxes have gone up, [but] the tax base has gone down.”
Pratt has deep roots in the Cranbrook area—there are six generations of his family that have lived in the city, and he is the fourth generation. He adds that younger generations are making an exodus to find jobs
“There’s no industry here. Our kids are leaving town to find work and I just think we’re on a path of failure,” Pratt said.
Pratt said he will be releasing specific details on his election campaign in the near future, but noted that there are a few issues he wants to address.
“Basically, I think we have to become more fiscally responsible,” Pratt said. “I’ve seen a lot of frivolous spending and spending on unnecessary projects, when our infrastructure—namely our roads—are just crumbling.”
Pratt would like to see more funding directed to road improvements.
“There hasn’t been enough money put towards our road program,” Pratt said. “So one of the things I’m going to be dealing with, is roads in particular. I think some of that frivolous spending and some of it that’s budgeted going forward, should be stopped, and those funds put directly into the road improvement.”
He’s been particularly disappointed with the amount of roadwork that has been done.
“The amount of roadwork that was done over the last three years was pathetic, to say the least,” Pratt said. “We have to develop a new strategy that’s going to work and put it to work. We’ve got to fix the roads that are fixable right now, that can be salvaged, if that means reinstating the seal coating program and pothole repair—bumping that up—then lets do it.
“Then the road repair beyond that, we have to come up with a strategy to resurface them and make them usable.”
Pratt also wants to develop closer relationships with the business community to help it thrive.
“I think we have to work with our business community and support them as much as we can,” he said. “A vibrant business community is needed for any town and these people employ a lot of people also who are taxpayers.
“We’ve got to work with them and try to make them as successful as we can.”
That ties into economic development, which has been struggling, according to Pratt.
“It’s been literally zero,” he said. “Not just with this council for the last three years, but if you look at the history of our economic development, it’s been very, very disappointing, and I think that whole strategy needs to be changed, the approach to it and how it’s implemented.
“I think that economic development department needs to be held accountable for what they are doing or what they have created.”
Candidates have until Friday, Oct. 10, to submit their nominations for mayoral, council and school district trustee elections.