Experience key for Hudson's Hope mayoral candidate

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Erica Fisher

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

Johansson, who is currently retired, has served as a councillor since 2005 as well as from 1990 to 1996. She has chaired, founded and served on a variety of committees, from the Northeast Energy & Mines Committee and the Peace Williston Advisory Committee, to the Northeast Oil & Gas Health Advisory Committee. She believes that her experience dealing with various levels of government is an asset for a municipal government leader.

"I think probably the biggest thing I bring to the table, that differs from others, the experience in working with the senior government," she says. "In addition to knowing what you want to do, I think you have to know how to wend your way through the senior government bureaucracy and power structure in order to accomplish what you want to do."

She argues there are two aspects to municipal governance: clearly defining what the community wants, and getting it done. In addition to her time on council, Johansson has lived in Hudson's Hope since 1972, which she says gives her a strong idea of the community's wants and needs.

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"I've lived a long time in the community, and you develop a sense of the community," she says. "You understand the community, I think, when you've been there a long time and you sort of know the history of how things came to be where they are and therefore as you move forward you kind of know the background that you need to deal with."

While she knows the District's past, she's not venturing into its future on her own. She's been consulting with members of the public about what they want to see in the community, which is already on residents' minds as the Official Community Plan is currently being built.

"The mayor's vision has to be in tune with what the people of the community want it to be, otherwise if you're across purposes it doesn't work well," she argues. "What I'm trying to do is get as many different views and meld them then into a single vision that reflects the community as a whole."

She says she's gotten the sense that people want a sustainable community, with steady jobs and good schools, as well as responsible resource development, especially with the proposed Site C dam looming over the area.

"They want responsible resource development that is kind of paced and measured and respects the local values," which she says include clean air and water, as well as protected land and wildlife. "There is sort of tension between those things because it's hard to have development and protection of a lot of those things people value, so that's something that we have to try and do the best we can to sort of wend our way through that."

She says the important thing is to maintain dialogue between the industry and community. As for Site C, she proposes that the District should create a document that summarizes the overall impact the project will have on the community as a whole, acknowledging personal impacts as well.

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"People will know their individual impact on their property, and you have to respect that they have to look after their own interests, but then you have to also, from the community perspective, you have to look at what does this do to a community as a whole."

As an example, she says that people losing waterfront property may be compensated, but that it's a loss to the community as a whole as well.

The Hudson's Hope byelection will be held on December 1, 2012. There are five residents running to fill two councillor positions, while Johansson and fellow Councillor Daryl Johnson are vying to be mayor. An interview with Johnson will be published next week.

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