Today’s The Day: Fort McMurray Rocks The Vote!

(I fully rip apart all sense of impartiality today and endorse certain candidates, read on for the exciting, biased details!)

Your community. Your vote. RMWB Election 2010 If you’ve been living under a rock (or, to be fair, out at a work-camp) then you may not have seen all the signs and know that today is Election Day here in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. And that’s ok, because there’s still time for you to get out and rock the vote. (voting info here)

Today is the day when residents of our region can make their voices heard and elect a mayor and council that they think will be the best representatives for our region. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will be the best council elected in recent memory.

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Last time around voter turnout was pretty dismal (can you say less than 10%?), a major reason why I decided to help get the word out about the election and provide candidates an opportunity to inform voters through Better Know A Candidate.

I’m pretty happy with the results and feedback the candidates have been receiving, and I can only hope that myoilsands has played a small part in the record turnout that the advance polls have been seeing. (Hey, a guy can dream right?)

But enough banter, let’s look at some of the candidates.

Up For Mayor?


The Three Debaters, Nebseny, Vyboh and Blake

Watch Blake, Nebesny & Vyboh answer questions at the Mayoral Debate


There are four brave souls running for the title of RMWB Mayor (along with applicable Better Know A Candidate profiles), they are:

  • Melissa Blake (profile)
  • George Albert Mercredi
  • Joe Nebesny
  • John Vyboh

While I think the race here is solely between Blake and Vyboh, I’d like to shout out to Nebesny for bringing some “everyman” qualities to the race. Joe, I do not think you’re ready for the office of mayor, however why not try running for council next time?



Melissa Blake & John Vyboh


So it’s really just down to Blake, who is running for her third term as mayor, and Vyboh, who is trying to make the jump from councillor to mayor. But who to choose, who to choose?


Sith Lord

Sith Lord - courtesy of


Someone (who shall remain anonymous) told me last year that if John Vyboh ran and became Mayor, that it would be the same as if we elected a Sith Lord to office (from Star Wars fame dontchaknow).

Being from a certain generation, this image made an rather lasting impression on me. And while I do think that the comparison is a wee bit of an massive exaggeration, I don’t think having Vyboh as mayor is a healthy option. In fact, I believe it would be a major mistake for our community.

Vyboh, simply put, seems to be out of touch with reality. I was stunned by some of Vyboh’s speeches, accusations and rhetoric used throughout the campaign. Vyboh’s campaign seemed to be trying to place blame where blame was not due – it just did not resonate with my thoughts of reality.

Granted, Vyboh has been the target of some hostility (there’s a fake twitter account, which in my book is dirty pool – no question) and yes, he has had to put up with quite a bit of flack from certain individuals (I’m looking at you @AlbertaLad). But that open hostility is there for a reason: Vyboh has made some enemies through his actions on the council and on the campaign trail. A political career does not come cheap.

On the positive side though, I do love the fact that Vyboh uses Twitter – he was tweeting long before hitting the campaign trail, and for that I’ll give him two big internet thumbs up. I love the idea of a mayor who tweets. There’s something very transparent and democratic about that – a mayor that uses social media to inform the public, on what seems like a very personal, one-on-one relationship – one can only hope.

(You can find more information about John Vyboh at

Blake, on the other hand, seems to be fully qualified, fully in touch and fully prepared to successfully take our community into the future. She has dealt with some off-base accusations with dignity, and the hallmark feature of her campaign, “are you better off now than you were six years ago?”, is a question to which I would have to unequivocally answer with a big “YES”.

Blake has acted like an adult and a professional throughout the campaign, unlike a certain someone else, and is in my opinion the right choice to lead the next council. If you haven’t already voted, and you’re still unsure as to the option, I urge you to go check out and inform yourself of her awesomeness.

And speaking about leading the next council…

Ward 1 – Candidates to Look For

Since I live in Fort McMurray, which is covered under Ward 1, I’ll only be focusing on my home ward. If you’d have preferred I also include other Wards, here is a “how to” video from an Australian child showing you the signup for a WordPress blog. It’d be great to have more RMWB bloggers telling their stories, so jump on in!

The brave souls running for Councilor, Ward 1 (along with applicable Better Know A Candidate profiles) are:

  • Mike Allen (profile)
  • Byron Bailey
  • Christine Burton
  • Mila Byron
  • Travis Dawson
  • Mohammad Shafiq Dogar
  • Sheldon Germain (profile)
  • Rick Haney
  • Ross Jacobs (profile)
  • Dave Kirschner (profile)
  • Gregory Lucas
  • Phil Meagher (profile)
  • Gareth Norris
  • Don (Donald K.) Scott (profile)
  • Russel Thomas (profile)

My first reaction to seeing this list was this: what a strong candidate pool to choose from! There are easily more than six people I would like to see become a Ward 1 Councilor for the next term – and unfortunately I was not able to vote again and again (I’m looking at you Mix103.7 web poll), so six I did choose.

Six For Your Picks

Like I said, picking only six means making some tough decisions, and that means some folks who I think would be strong voices for our community were left out… but for what it’s worth I think these six candidates will do well representing me (and hopefully you as well).

  • Mike Allen
  • Sheldon Germain
  • Ross Jacobs
  • Dave Kirschner
  • Don (Donald K.) Scott
  • Russel Thomas

For those of you playing along at home, if elected, four of the above candidates would be new to the council for 2010. I think the last council was sometimes suffering from a poisoned atmosphere, a situation I hope can be avoided this time around with some fresh faces and cold eyes.

mike allen profileMike Allen. Of the two incumbents, I know Mike Allen the best. A local business man, community advocate and respected former President of the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce, Mike is someone I’ve been able to have relaxed and casual conversations with. I like him, plus he’s an advocate for social media – follow him on Twitter as @Mike_Allen47. If you have questions about the RMWB and the council, he’ll usually get back to you asap.

You can find out more info about Mike Allen at

sheldon germain profileSheldon Germain. Germain, the second incumbent on my list has the distinction of being the youngest ever regional councilor, and has in the past served as Deputy Mayor. Family is important to Sheldon, and he is putting a “Family Friendly Fort McMurray” high on his list of priorities. From some of the external press about our region, you’d never know we have dedicated, supportive and loving families here in Fort McMurray. Sheldon is here to prove all of those 24-hour journalists wrong.

You can find out more info about Sheldon Germain at

ross jacobs profileRoss Jacobs. Ross Jacobs would be the first of my Fresh Four to make it on the council. For a relatively young candidate, Ross has been a tour-de-force on the campaign front. He’s been smart with how he’s handled the campaign and I think he’s an equally smart choice to be on the council. Plus, and here I think you’re starting to see a trend, he’s embraced digital communications to get his message across. Ross is a family man (just check out his current Twitter avatar) and is the current General Manager of Community Futures Wood Buffalo. He’s actively involved in the community and is a great new choice for a new voice on the council.

You can find out more info about Ross Jacobs at

Dave Kirschner ProfileDave Kirschner. Second on my Fresh Four list is Dave Kirschner. A 32-year resident and businessman of Fort McMurray, Dave has chosen to once again run for office and is “ready to be your full time councilor.” He will bring a wealth of experience to the position and will be an invaluable asset to the team. I’m looking forward to seeing Dave work with the rest of the council on the challenges and opportunities that face our home.

You can find out more info about Dave Kirschner at

don scott profileDon Scott. When you go to the campaign site of the third member of the Four, the following jumps out of the page: “Local lawyer, small business owner, and community volunteer to run for municipal council“.

I, for one, relish the fact that another candidate trained in law is running for council. Don will be able to provide direct and meaningful feedback on practically every aspect of council business. And as a small business owner, he fully understands the needs and issues facing small business in Fort McMurray. Thanks for running this year Don!

You can find out more info about Don Scott at

russell thomas portraitRussell Thomas. Russell Thomas, a well-known face about town, is the last member of the Fresh Four. Aside from the tireless community effort he provides on a yearly basis (interPLAY ring a bell anyone?), one of Russell’s key strengths is communication. Wether it’s his role as the Director of Marketing & Communications at Keyano College, through Twitter as @rvthomas67 or just his own personal blog (Middle Age Bulge), Russell will be able to provide proven communication skills to the council and to the entire RMWB. Russell is also a graduate of the inaugural class of Leadership Wood Buffalo, an organization he has been a Director of since 2006.

You can find out more information about Russel Thomas at


And there we have it. Some guy’s thoughts from behind his laptop, about an election that (hopefully) you care about, on the day of said election.

Scanning Twitter (this post was written the night before), I’m seeing well-wishes and thank you’s between all of the active candidates and their campaign supporters. It’s a pretty good feeling seeing all of the positivity and encouragement between the candidates. Hopefully that continues into the council chambers and eventually rewards us with the best council we have seen in years.

And speaking of Twitter, Colleen Tatum (@colleentatum) just tweeted this:

I have a feeling it’s anyones win tomorrow for council & we all maybe surprised -it’s a new game #ymm

And you know what? Despite my hopes for the seven above, she may very well be right. Want to follow the election via Twitter? Don’t forget to follow these hashtags: #ymmvotes, #ymm & #rmwb.

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