Ward 5 councillor announces 2020 re-election bid

Incumbent Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick speaks during a city council meeting in October 2019.

Dennis Ogrodnick enjoyed the last four years representing Ward 5 on Prince Albert city council, and on Thursday he declared his intention to seek four more.

Ogrodnick, who works as a teacher in the Prince Albert Catholic school system, announced his bid for re-election with a short tweet from his official Twitter account. He said the current council has Prince Albert headed in the right direction, and he hopes residents in Ward 5 will let him be a part of it.

“It is a lot of work, but I enjoyed it,” he said when asked why he decided to seek re-election. “I enjoyed the progress that we’ve made in the areas that I was very passionate about when I first ran.”

Ogrodnick was one of three candidates elected to council for the first time during the 2016 municipal election. Since then he’s voted in favour of every single city budget, and voted to create a new property sub-class for care homes, which were hit hard by tax increases after being moved to the residential tax bracket in 2017.

He supported parks and recreation developments, like the creation of a new spray park in Crescent Acres, and the development of a new $114,000 public playground on Muzzy Drive.

Ogrodnick also one of three city council members to vote against a new Native Coordinating Council care home project in Ward 5 back in February 2017. At the time, Ogrodnick argued he was representing the wishes of his constituents, and pointed out that with 15 cares homes, the ward was already doing its part to help disadvantaged residents. Ward 7 is the only area of the city with more care homes.

On Thursday, Ogrodnick said he’s proud of his voting record in council, and promised to continue the course he set during his first term.

“I’m voted in favour of every budget, and if you look item by item, they have supported all the things that I’ve mentioned,” he said. “Are they perfect? No, but they’ve been pretty good I think.”

Prince Albert city council has had a number combative debates since 2016, but Ogrodnick excused himself from the most hotly-debated one in May 2018 due to a conflict of interest. City council officially sanctioned Ward 3 Coun. Evert Botha for Tweets he made disparaging music choices during a Prince Albert Raiders hockey game. Ogrodnick volunteers as the Raiders’ in-game DJ. Ogrodnick declined to comment on the matter at the time.

When asked about city council’s ability to debate and disagree in a professional manner, Ogrodnick said he was disappointed only five or six council members showed up to a conflict resolution session last year. He said council members need to work together as a team to improve Prince Albert, something he pledged to do if re-elected.

“I’m not just looking out for ward 5. I’m looking out for the entire city,” he said. “You have to look at what’s best for the entire city and sometimes I don’t think we always do that. That’s what I find a little bit frustrating.”

Ogrodnick said reducing crime, lowering taxes and recovering economically from the COVID-19 lockdown will be the three biggest challenges the city faces in 2020. While some of the city’s elected officials have been very vocal about slashing Prince Albert’s police budget, Ogrodnick hasn’t been among them. He said he supports the Prince Albert Police Commission, and will follow their lead when it comes to budget requests.

“We need to support our police, we need to listen to what the police commission is telling us, and then support them financially,” he said. “That’s what we have to do. I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert in policing. We have our police chief and our administration and our police officers and our police commission that can guide us in all of those issues. That’s who I listen to and that’s how I base my votes.”

Ogrodnick defeated business owner Chad Mogg and incumbent Ward 5 Coun. Tim Scharkowski with nearly 45 per cent of the vote in the 2016 municipal election.

The 2020 municipal election is scheduled for Nov. 9.