More interviews with Red Deer City Council Candidates + Andrew’s How and Why (and a note about grammar). 
LawrenceLee

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Andrew Kooman: The first question I asked candidates seeking re-election was about Bike Lanes, so let me just start by throwing a Bike Lane Q to you as well. It’s a 2-part question:

A) What is your assessment of the pilot project at this point in time?

Lawrence Lee:   I like you, hear many comments related to the implementation of Bike Lanes.  If fortunate enough to be elected I will temper this feedback with the recent survey results specifically related to the Bike Lane question.  At the root of the issue is having a council that is responsive and in touch with the collective voice in our community.  For me there is a real need to prioritize projects via this collective voice and to respond accordingly.
 

B) If elected to Council, you will have to make decisions that can’t and won’t please everyone.  What strategies will you use to reach consensus and are you prepared to make decisions that aren’t popular with everyone in the community, including your colleagues on Council?

LL:   The age old question in politics.  In my mind it is not so much about pleasing the individual but more so addressing and supporting a community vision.  My past experience serving the community as the Chair of Red Deer Public Schools has taught me that often there are issues that have different perspectives and that the outcomes are not even anticipated  at the onset.  Compromise is key to any successful outcome and the understanding of opposing views provides a healthy process of educating each perspective.  Therefore, if elected I will continue to promote collegial, fluid discussion and always make decisions that best reflect what I have heard the community say.  Making the right decision only comes from excellent listening.

AK: How long have you lived in Red Deer and how did you end up here?

LL:  I have lived in Red Deer before I had my first birthday. My wife of 22 years and both my daughters where fortunate enough to be born in Red Deer.  My family came to Red Deer to seek a better life as they immigrated from China.  My passion for this community stems from the fact that this is the only real community I have ever known.  My love for Red Deer is a direct result of all the wonderful memories and experiences that have come from growing up here.

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AK: What organizations, groups or associations are you a member of and why are you engaged with them?

LL:   As you are already aware I am the current Board Chair for Red Deer Public Schools – I became a Trustee after seeing a need for local governance in our schools as I was a School Council Chair for five years at Annie L Gaetz Elementary School. I am also President of the Red Deer and District Chinese Community Society – My father was one of the founding members and I am proud to continue his legacy representing Chinese Culture in our community.  I am a Director for the Public School Boards’ of Alberta – building relationships at the provincial level with our MLAs greatly assists in running our School Jurisdiction.  I was involved on the Board of Junior Achievement helping our youth gain more of an entrepreneurial spirit and understanding of day to day finances.  I was a Board member of the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools as this was a way to enhance the learning experiences of our children.  I also often participate and support activities that encourage community participation – bike a thon, Canadian Mental Health, Reading College, etc.

AK: What qualifications and experiences have prepared you to represent Red Deer on Council?

LL:  My nine years as a publically elected official has given me the experience to quickly transition into City Council.  Many of the people I already know and have built relationships with in the Municipal arena which will serve me well if elected to Council.  Working with a public budget of over 100 Million dollars is also an asset.  I also have a strong background in business working at senior management levels for companies such as – The News Group (Jim Pattison) as Director of Operations, Prairie Provinces; Home Depot in their Store Leadership Program; Eye Recommend as Director of Operations for Canada and currently as the senior analyst for a private equity firm.

AK: How a City helps to provide services to those in need and those who are vulnerable can make it a great municipality. How do you rateRed Deer in this regard: where is the City doing well and where can it improve?

LL: Where I believe Red Deer is doing a good job helping those in need we can always do better.  Not only do we need to balance the fiscal reality of our City but also the social responsibility that we owe our citizens.  The strength in our community not only lies in our ability to grow revenue streams and improve efficiency but to provide opportunities for all of the people that live here and call Red Deer home.

AK: Vibrancy of the Arts can make a City remarkable, even inspirational. On a scale of 1 to Remarkable, where would you place Red Deer? What is your connection to the Arts and in your opinion how important are they to a thriving community?

LL: In terms of vibrancy of the Arts Red Deer has so many hidden talents.  Far too often there are missed opportunities to appreciate and be inspired by our local talent.  Being part of Red Deer Public Schools has exposed me personally to so much raw talent.  Our IB arts program, High School Drama productions, Music Programs, Roots of Empathy, and healing through the arts initiatives all have added to my appreciation and understanding of the power behind expression and why Art inspires each of us in unique ways.

AK:  As a Councillor, you will have a key role in shaping the policies of the City and to promote its interests.  What kind of City do you imagine in the next 100 years and, if elected, what will you do in this term to move Red Deer in that direction?

LL:  I imagine a City focused on delivering the best services it can.  A City that is responsive to all its citizens and delivers exceptional customer service.  A City that encourages and supports creativity and innovation. A city with a unique blend of Culture and Commerce.  As a Councillor I would advocate to simplify the current goals and strategies in order to achieve this vision.

AK: If elected to Council, what expectations do you have of your fellow Councillors and what strengths do you have to offer as a team player?

LL: I would expect respectful discussion within Council.  Councillors that are dedicated to common vision that comes from our community.  Decisions that are well articulated in order to appreciate one another’s perspectives.  I feel that given my experience in leading and rising to senior positions throughout my career will assist me in having just those types of discussions with any group of people.

AK: If you could accomplish one thing as a Councillor, what would it be?

LL: Engage citizens to take more of a vested interest in how there City is developing and being run.  The more we talk about our community and how we can move it forward with our citizens as partners the better.

AK: Who do you look to as a role model and who would you like to emulate in your professional life?

LL: First and foremost I look at my Mom and Dad as role models.  Their hard work and love of family made me what I am today.  In my professional life I look to two individuals in much of what I do – Mahatma Gandhi “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” and Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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More interviews with Red Deer City Council Candidates + Andrew’s How and Why (and a note about grammar). 

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