Jared LeBlanc said he decided he would run for mayor shortly after he moved to the Creston Valley from New Westminster in 2012.
“It bothered me when I learned council had changed the time of council meetings to the afternoon and I said to my fiancée, ‘You know what? I’m going to run,’ ” he said. “If you are working man you are now having to take time off to have your say.”
Born and raised in Steveston, LeBlanc now lives on 32nd Avenue in Erickson. He said teamwork is the solution to most problems.
“I don’t like what I see on Canyon Street with all the vacancies. It happens sometimes, but it used to be pretty robust,” he said. “You can change it. Together we are better. Everybody in town has something to offer. It doesn’t take just a mayor — council has to work together, with input from the entire community.”
He would like to see the “parking poles” removed from Canyon Street sidewalks.
The only candidate in the area who is running for two positions in this election, LeBlanc said he was driven to run for Area B director as well because of a concern about invasive weeds on his property.
“Someone dropped the ball on this,” he said. “I think I can do a far better job — we’ve had no answers.”
For him to win either position means people have to get out and vote. And he agrees with the change from three-year to four-year terms for local government.
“It’s a good thing it’s four years now. It removes confusion with provincial elections.”
LeBlanc has been working with the team installing fibre optic cable to homes in recent months, but his varied background includes warehousing, where he learned a lot about transportation and logistics, the movie industry and Internet.
“I implemented an online entertainment company with professional partners. I can access information and determine the viability of projects.”
Creston residents should take advantage of the area’s rural lifestyle, he said, by growing gardens and keeping backyard chickens.
“I will support that, to a maximum of six chickens,” he said, adding that schoolchildren should be learning to raise baby animals, perhaps with a mobile unit that travels from school to school. “I would work with school trustees to see if that would work. We planted a garden for the first time this year and grew 200 pounds of tomatoes — we’re rockin’ it!”
As mayor, LeBlanc said he would be accessible.
“If I can’t give you the answer today, I will get one. As a younger candidate I know people want improvements. Young families — I will definitely support you.”
He acknowledges the efforts of the previous town council.
“The current mayor and council have done some good things, but we could do a lot more,” he said. “Until I am in the position I can’t really give you honest answers for everything right away, but I’ll get them.”
Describing himself as personable, LeBlanc said he is comfortable with people of all ages and walks of life.
“If you have a problem you can come to my office or I’ll come to your home. I’ve met a lot of people — celebrities, professionals and politicians — and I have a lot to give. Obviously, some things I think of will be out in left field, but I think outside the box. I’m primarily blue collar but I’ve dealt with a lot of white collar people, too.”
Voter apathy is a problem, he said.
“Voters don’t participate because they feel that nothing gets done,” he said. “I’m just who I am, personable guy who likes to get out there and look for solutions. I’m curious. I ask questions.”
He is concerned about taxes, which he said are higher than in Penticton, but that they are the result of not having enough industry.
“We could work with the film industry,” he said.
By attracting film crews, he said, local businesses like hotels and restaurants would benefit, and the taxes they pay could be reinvested into developing necessary infrastructure to attract other industries.
“I am an ambitious guy,” he said. “It’s not the paycheque I’m after, it’s making a difference. I am not associated with any group or anybody at all. With me, it’s a clean slate.”