Martin Ring is eyeing a return to municipal politics.
On Tuesday, Ring became just the second candidate to officially file nomination papers for the upcoming city election. Ring is running in Ward 6 against incumbent Blake Edwards.
Should he win, Ring will return to the council seat he held for about ten years. He ran for mayor four years ago but lost to Greg Dionne.
Before entering politics, Ring worked for Canada Post. He currently serves as a colour commentator for Prince Albert Raiders radio broadcasts alongside play-by-play announcer Trevor Redden. Ring is also a member of the Mont St. Joseph board of directors and is very active in the local golf scene.
Ring decided this year that a return to the council table is more likely as a councillor than as mayor.
“I got encouragement from folks who want to see me get involved again at the city council table,” Ring said by phone Tuesday.
“I weighed a lot of different options this year. Last time … there were lots of players, the odds ended up being not that great. We are kind of into the same situation now. I felt that council was probably perhaps a little more comfortable for me to look at at this point.”
Ring touted his previous experience as a councillor as what the city needs as it heads towards major infrastructure projects while seeking to recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think at this particular time, I can bring a lot of experience to the table and that’s what people are looking for — people that are going to be involved, to bring some experience to the table,” he said. “We’ve got lots of challenges ahead of us.”
Ward 6, Ring said, is in an interesting position as it still has potential for growth. It’s also the ward that’s home to the proposed new recreation centre, to be located south of Marquis Road and East of Highway 3.
Ring said he remembers the conversations last time he was on council within the ward when that land was annexed from the RM.
“It’s a very dynamic ward,” Ring said. “It still has some growth potential. We still do have some vacant lots in that area.”
As far as the city as a whole goes, Ring wants to make sure the city’s financial reserves and established taxes and levies are being used appropriately.
Ring explained that in addition to the base tax, there are levies, which he argued are a form of taxes themselves. He cited the roadway improvement base tax, the snow removal base tax and the library levy, among others.
During deliberations as council drafted the 2019 budget, council used $300,000 from the roadway recapping program reserve and directed it towards the city’s general fund to balance the books. Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp took issue with that. Mayor Greg Dionne said that he didn’t think residents would mind because it would prevent more tax increases and that at most, one or two fewer blocks would be paved the following year.
“One of the things brought in when I sat on council previously was funded reserves for capital improvement projects,” Ring said.
“I want to ensure that funds are being used appropriately, and not being used to balance budgets.”
Ring also brought up the new hospital expansion destined for Prince Albert. While the province has committed to funding 100 per cent of the project, that funding doesn’t extend to the furnishings. Ring wants to establish how much money the city and hospital foundation is on the hook for and to discuss ways to share that cost with surrounding jurisdictions that will also benefit from the project.
“We have to start putting pencil to paper and figuring out what the cost is on that,” Ring said.
“We have to have a sit-down conversation with the provincial government and find out what exactly we are looking at from a furnishing perspective and (if) it all rests on the city or does it rest with … some of the surrounding communities.”
Ring said the city should “absolutely” work closer with surrounding communities, especially the RMs of Prince Albert and Buckland, as they will also benefit from major projects built within city limits.
“We should have community development plans. We should be working with both of those at the table, especially when it comes to shared pieces,” he said.
“We’ve got residents in those RMs that use the facilities of the City of Prince Albert. We have to look at how we’re funding those facilities and how we’re funding them through user fees.”
With Ring submitting his nomination papers, Ward 6 becomes just the third city ward with a contested race. Three candidates have declared for Ward 7 — Dawn Kilmer, Liam Dougherty and Diana Wooden, while Ward 5 will see a fight between Dennis Ogrodnick and Don Wood. Wood confirmed his intentions to the Herald Tuesday. A candidate profile on him will be published later this week.
The mayoral race, so far, has three candidates: Greg Dionne, Darryl Hickie and Dennis Nowoselsky. The municipal election is set for November 9. Candidates have until October 7 to formally submit their nomination papers.