By Tim Kalinowski on May 12, 2021.
Longtime Lethbridge resident and local realtor Gary Klassen became the latest candidate to declare his intention to run for Mayor of the City of Lethbridge.
Klassen said he has three main reasons for wanting to run as mayor. He wants to stop wasteful spending at the City, work as a consensus builder in an often divided city council, and help out those who are struggling with a compassionate, but firm, approach.
“I would like to get everybody out there working,” he explains. “People that are homeless that don’t have no job– find them jobs. Keep them working. Because a person that’s working has more self-worth than a person who is just hanging out.”
Klassen is also in favour of constructing more infrastructure in the city to help get those addicted to drugs rehabilitated.
“Rehabilitation is more important than the free injections,” he states. “I think the Mustard Seed was a good idea, but what happens is nobody wants them in their neighbourhood. That’s the problem. The reason for that is if there are homeless people in that area they are just going to hang out in that area. But there are ways to do this. You have got to have a place for them to go to. You got to find the good spot. And not everybody is going to be happy with where they go.”
Klassen does believe those engaged in criminal wrongdoing, even if motivated by drug addiction, should be held accountable for their actions.
“If you can get a handle on the drug issue, you should get a better handle on the crime issue,” he says. “The people who are committing crimes, they come and go. It is like a revolving door at the court. They should have to pay for their crimes. Let’s say someone does some damage to something. They should have to fix it, and repair it. They should have to do that.”
Klassen says the best way he knows how to stimulate the local economy that has been hard hit by COVID-19 is to get businesses open and people working again.
“They (the province) are shutting everybody down,” he says. “I don’t agree with that. I think we have to get the businesses open and running again. Get the place back to normal. It will never be the same normal as before, but bring it back to the old-fashioned way where you can run your businesses, have your jobs, and have the kids in school. Have your sports activities. Have your churches open. That is very important, you know.”
After more people are vaccinated, Klassen says he would like to see greater efforts put in by city council to encourage more public events and tourism.
“There are things that could be done to make better tourism,” he says. “Like Street Wheelers, for example. When they come into town, they bring a lot of people into town, and they probably bring more people into town than the Exhibition grounds. The City actually charges them pretty hard for everything they do. Right from the garbage cans and the extra police, and everything like that. They are doing a good job, but it costs them a lot of money to make it work. If you are overcharging them so much, they can’t bring the people in. I would want to encourage more public events by making it easier.”
Klassen says he is at a stage in his life where he has made a good living for himself and his family, and would like to do what he can to help people in a new public life as mayor for the City of Lethbridge.
“This city has a lot to offer, and there is a lot of good stuff for the people to do,” he states. “We have got some really nice parks. We have got some good events. We have Casa downtown. Some people don’t like it, some people do– but everybody doesn’t like the same things. There are different things here for all different folks.
“When I get elected as mayor I will do the best job I can. I just want to make this whole city good.”
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