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Hiebert pushes for openness

By: Grant Burr

Posted: 08/20/2018 10:00 AM

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Jake Hiebert has been thinking about a run for city council for many years. The former Steinbach RCMP staff sergeant says that it first began as an idea for him about eight years ago, but other work conflicts kept him from pursuing the role.

Now retired, Hiebert says he is ready to give the same commitment to a city councillor role that he did in his policing career, a focus on public safety remains a main plank of his election platform.

"When I was involved in the police department here for a number of years, I poured myself into the community 24/7. I see public service as a councillor as just a continuation of that," he said.

One key platform plank Hiebert sees for Steinbach, is to advance continued business growth.

"I think we need some major business coming to town. The mom and dad businesses, they’re great, I want to see them continue but I also want to see big companies come to town, maybe that employ 50-100 people."

With big business investment, Hiebert says the city’s tax base can stabilize and make possible some of the bigger projects that have been talked about over the years. For Hiebert, another priority is a mix of prudent management of taxpayer funds along with vision.

"I think Steinbach is what Steinbach is because of what Steinbach is. Steinbach has always been a community of fiscal restraint but there also has to be a balance between fiscal restraint and visionary outlook."

He points to former Steinbach mayor A.D. Penner as someone who fit that bill.

Where does the city goes with recreation and culture projects in the future? Hiebert was reluctant to comment.

"I hesitate to say whether I’d be in favour without seeing a viable, sound business case. I’ll always keep an open mind when a business case is presented and public hearings are held. I like to apply a business risk module...assess what risk factors are for today and in the future," he said.

That said, Hiebert says council needs to take the lead too.

"Council has to be visionary, we can’t sit around for four years and have all this discussion with no action. I think the community wants to see action, one way or another, and see it justified."

Council will have a different look following the election on Oct. 24. Hiebert hopes to be elected, but hopes some incumbents return too.

"What’s happened in the past is very important for us to move forward and not to reinvent the wheel or have the same discussions that have been going on for a number of years," he said.

Not speaking of any particular situation, Hiebert said he hopes to see more transparency and openness from council too.

"I don’t believe that telling the citizens of this community after the fact breeds a lot of harmony within the community and the council," he said.

"We can’t make decision based on our business, our families, on other interests we have and I think that’s where I’m a little different from the other people…I’m retired, there is not conflict of interest. I want to advance a council that entertains proposals as a group. I think it is very important that council base its decisions on the business case presented and not on other conversations that may have been held with the person presenting a business case.

In the end, Hiebert says if elected to this new role, his focus will be similar to that of his 46 year career in public safety.

"At the end of the day my motto has always been, work hard, treat people fairly, and with respect."

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