By Tim Kalinowski on October 2, 2021.
Council candidate Zachary Hampton says if elected he would focus on returning a sense of civility and co-operation to city council after a divisive four years in local politics.
“As a lifelong citizen, I have gotten to know the city very well, and I think I have a vision of the potential the city can become,” he says. “And I would love to share into that with the leadership of the city, and bring a young, fresher perspective to the table.”
Hampton works at St. Martha’s parish as a teacher in sacramental preparation, and has volunteered with various faith-based non-profit organizations, such as the Lethbridge Christian Tabernacle, for a number of years.
Hampton says his religious perspective gives him a strong sense of right and wrong, and an empathy for those suffering with homelessness, mental health problems and addictions in Lethbridge.
It also gives him a strong desire to build community, he says.
“There are lots of different perspectives,” he says. “We need a forum to hear those perspectives respectfully. I think what we saw from previous forums in the past, like the (city council) deliberations on the Mustard Seed, got a little bit out of hand. It would be nicer to see a stronger respect for and an appreciation (for different views). There are a lot of different stakeholders at the table here such as local businesses, and there is also the homeless population themselves. Those are people who don’t choose to be in that position, and there is a humanity to them. I would like to see a lot more empathy.”
Hampton says that desire to build community also embraces the reconciliation efforts the City has strived for the past four years.
“I think a lot of times when we are talking about things like reconciliation there is a humanity to that issue, there is a hurt with that issue, and I think we have seen that in terms of some of the news we have seen over this past summer in terms of residential schools,” he says.
“It has brought a lot of hurt up to the surface. I think when we are walking down that process of reconciliation there is a certain degree in which we need to be empathetic to that. For those involved, it is an emotionally charged issue, and we need to be respectful of that.”
But while his sense of compassion is based in his religious upbringing, Hampton says he is also mindful of the impacts of City spending on taxpayers.
“We can’t afford to keep hitting the taxpayer up for more and more money even though there are a lot of great organizations to support, and oftentimes these organizations are going to have to fall back to their own fundraising,” Hampton says when asked if he believes money allocated for social supports and charitable organizations by city council is being used efficiently by local non-profits in the city given his experience of them. “Because as a city, we also have to look out for our taxpayers.
“There are some capital projects that would be great for our city,” he adds later. “They would be amazing. They would help push our city forward. We also have to look at the times we are in. We ask a lot of taxpayers already, and is it fair to ask that much more of them?
“Maybe we need to lay off of a couple of things right now just to give everyone a chance to recover before we move forward.”
Hampton also states he would respect the will of Lethbridge residents on the results of next month’s plebiscite if they ask for a third bridge. As a councillor, if elected, he would work toward getting it built if that’s what voters wanted.
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