Why would The Jasper Local publish an article on someone running for office in the adjacent town? Because Stuart Taylor is a different breed. And different is good.
Stuart Taylor might look like your average older white dude running for municipal office in Alberta—he might even sound like one.
However, he sure as heck doesn’t act like your typical politician.
For one, Taylor just got back from hiking the rugged West Coast Trail in B.C.—solo, in fact. That’s not something every 60-something can lay claim to. But more importantly, Taylor has carved out a niche as Hinton’s most independent councillor—and to some, the community’s most exasperating.
“Some people think that council should be a team, where plays are discussed beforehand and you’re working in a coordinated fashion, but it’s not,” he says. “Municipal government responsibilities do not describe team responsibilities, they describe individual responsibilities of councillors.”
In the past, Councillor Taylor’s lone wolf tendencies have irritated his fellow politicans. He ruffled feathers during a debate on whether or not the Town of Hinton should disclose the terms of a large public engineering contract; same thing during the followup discussion on a local bylaw which he believes is inconsistent with provincial FOIP legislation. And he really rattled cages when he wrote letters to his local paper, as well as the Edmonton Journal, regarding the “black eye” Hinton was giving itself thanks to a money-plundering photo radar gun on the way out of town. The thing was generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for the town, but Taylor saw it as an embarrassing cash grab.
“There’s a difference between a good ticket and a bad ticket,” he is fond of saying.
His opinions aren’t always popular, but Taylor is unapologetic. He says he still treats his fellow councillors with respect, but his first priority is the taxpayer. That’s why he communicates to the electorate via public letters and Facebook posts. That’s why he spends a day or two each week taking a temperature from local citizens. That’s why he’s big on plebiscites. And that’s why he’s running for office again in October—although he hadn’t decided yet if that campaign is going to be for councillor or the mayor’s office.
“I’ve had a lot of people who’ve encouraged me to run [for mayor],” he said.
Taylor doesn’t make lofty promises. He’s more about process than pie-in-the-sky projects, he said. But while good governance, respecting voters, improved democracy and practicing sound fiscal management are the kind of boring buzzwords that most politicians espouse, with Taylor, you get the sense he means it.
And if his fellow councillors have an issue with that, he doesn’t really give a toss.
“If you do anything worthwhile in life, you’re going to get some people that like what you do, and some who don’t,” he says. “The only way you’re going to get everyone to like what you do is if you don’t do anything.”
Disclosure: Taylor occasionally writes for The Jasper Local. Check out his Back In Time historical contributions at www.thejasperlocal.com