Nominations to represent the Saskatchewan Party in the constituency of Saskatchewan Rivers haven’t opened yet, but RM of Prince Albert Reeve Eric Schmalz has already made his intentions clear.
On March 24, Schmalz announced his intention to seek the Saskatchewan Party endorsement to represent them in the next election. Previous Sask. Party MLA Nadine Wilson resigned after misrepresenting her vaccination status. Wilson currently sits as an independent. She previously won the party nomination by acclaim in 2019.
“I think that the Saskatchewan Party is the best option for this province,” Schmalz said. “It’s the best party to serve this province and the people who live here. I think we’re going to see continued growth under that party’s stewardship, and I hope to join their ranks and work towards that brighter future.”
Schmalz is a former RCMP officer who returned to the Prince Albert area to farm and join the family business in 2017. He was elected Reeve of the RM of Prince Albert in 2019 and has held the position ever since.
The RM is located south of Prince Albert in the Constituency of Batoche. However, Schmalz said his family owns and farms land near Meath Park and Weirdale, and has a family cottage at Candle Lake, which are all in Saskatchewan Rivers.
Schmalz said the RM has been busy administratively and economically over the past few years, and he’s confident that experience will serve him well as an MLA. Major projects include a new municipal centre along the Hwy No. 2 corridor, which will house the RM’s administration, chambers, and equipment and maintenance shop, and a 400 acre commercial and residential development in the same area.
“We’ve got a major development happening south of the city, and those types of experiences lend themselves very well to moving into politics on the next stage, that being the provincial stage,” Schmalz said.
“There’s opportunity for that type of growth in the constituency of Saskatchewan Rivers. I think I can bring that based on my good leadership, good stewardship record from the RM of Prince Albert.”
Schmalz said rural crime and economic development are the two biggest issues he’s hearing about from voters. He said the province should continue to invest in proactive policing, but added that the current model isn’t working and needs to change.
He also wants to see more of a focus on social issues that lead to high crime rates.
“It’s not just all about policing,” Schmalz said. “A lot of it has to do with social changes. People need to have hope for the future that they can find a way to be a contributing member of society. Just to have that option I know will alleviate a lot of those pressures that are put on police and the region as far as crime goes.”
Economically, Schmalz said rural Saskatchewan continues to lose residents to major urban centres because they offer more opportunities. He said many residents want to live in the rural areas they grew up in, but can’t do so because of the lack of growth. If elected, Schmalz promised to work towards creating economic opportunities for people who wanted to remain in rural areas and small towns.
When asked about the recent provincial budget, Schmalz said he agreed with the province’s decision to use the funds created by high resource revenues to pay off debt. The province expects to see a $1 billion surplus in 2022-23, and Schmalz said it makes sense to pay off debt given how high interest rates are.
“We want to make sure we’re not overburdening the taxpayers of Saskatchewan by continuing to increase the debt,” he said. “For me, the prudent measure to lower the debt by nearly $1 billion is very smart, and I think it should be lauded rather than opposed.”
Schmalz is the only candidate to declare his intention to seek the Saskatchewan Party nomination in Sask. Rivers. The party has not set a nomination deadline.
The next provincial election is scheduled for October 2024.
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