Rural crime “top of mind” in R.M. says byelection candidate

A former RCMP officer has declared his candidacy for the Rural Municipality of Prince Albert’s vacant reeve position in an effort to help combat crime in the area.

Eric Schmalz is one of thee candidates running in the spring byelection.  He said rural crime is “top of mind” for many residents in the R.M., and that’s a problem he’d like to help solve.

“After I took early retirement from the RCMP I was still looking for a way to serve in my community,” he said during an interview on Thursday. “I still have a desire to do that. I heard that the R.M. was going to be holding a byelection for the position of reeve … and I felt that I would be well suited to contribute in that role.”

Schmalz said cooperation and communication is the key to lowering the R.M.’s rural crime rate in the area. If elected, he plans to establish closer ties with the local RCMP detachment and the City of Prince Albert, who he said could help with any issues that crop up near city limits.

He’d also like to establish a Citizens on Patrol group to help empower local residents.

“I think that we could easily implement a Citizens on Patrol group to be able to have some buy-in from our residents (and) to have them take some action to protect their interests in the R.M.,” he explained.

Beside’s crime, Schmalz’s other main concern is economic development. With exploration drilling for the Fort a la Corne diamond exploration project underway, Schmalz thinks the Highway 11 corridor can become a major service centre, provided it’s developed properly.

“I think we need to be the home base of operations, offsite, for any of the services that are going to be required to service that mine,” he said. “I think that we could easily take advantage of our main trunk Highway 11 corridor, which could be developed for businesses—manufacturing businesses, service businesses, things like that—that we could use in our RM to help create jobs for the community as a whole.”

Although he was born and raised in Prince Albert, Schmalz has lived in the R.M. for the last 10 years. He said his experience as an RCMP officer gives him a unique skillset to help lead the R.M., especially as it seeks to tackle rural crime.

The 2019 Rural Municipality of Prince Albert byelection is scheduled for June 12. The advanced poll will be held on June 8.

Please see future editions of the Daily Herald for interviews with the other two candidates.