Tom Christiansen would like to follow his father’s footsteps and bring a strong business prospective to Swift Current City Council.
His father Glen Christiansen served on city council for three terms starting in the mid 80s, serving close to a full decade in municipal politics. And having seen that interest and ongoing discussion of city issues has sparked his own interest to run for city council.
“I feel like I have some experience just based on being around him all the time,” he explained during a recent interview.
“One of my father’s big things was a councillors main duty is to be a vigilant steward of the taxpayers money. And I think we always have to remind ourselves of that. We’re not playing around with our own money, it’s everybody’s money. We have to just operate more as a business and bring a little bit more business perspective to the conversation.”
Christiansen, who is the owner of Decor Complete, said his 37 year involvement with the store gives him some insights into the need to prioritize improving the core city services at an affordable tax level.
“I’ve been virtually a life long resident of Swift Current. I love our city. You want to see it do better. I’ve got some concerns about where our debt level is at, and maybe what our spending priorities are.”
“I’ve got a lot of business experience. I’d like to get a chance to earn a seat and let my voice be heard and see if I can help change the direction just a little bit.”
He said City Council should be taking a more fiscally conservative approach to taxation and debt financing.
“I think we’re carrying too high of a debt level. In comparison to our population our debt is way too high. Some of that I know is land development. And that’s fine, you have to have some of that for growth. But we’ve got an awful lot that is attributed to that and we don’t seem to be moving as many lots as we should be. So we have money tied up in that.”
“As far as our spending priorities, I’d like to see us tighten our belts a little bit and get back to worrying about the core city functions – the streets and the sidewalks, the snow removal and all of that.”
He explained that the city can still pursue a growth agenda despite a more cautious approach.
“We have to refocus and get a plan together and articulate a plan on how we’re going to grow the city. The only way we’re going to truly address our debt and taxation levels is if we can expand our tax base. So we’re going to have to try to attract new residents. The only way to attract new residents is through good paying jobs, so we’ve got to try to figure out if there’s a way we can attract some industry and get some good paying jobs in and growth the city and expand the tax base.”
He said this growth initiative will take a focussed approach by the entire council.
“You’re a group of seven people. Everyone’s got a voice. You have to try to figure out what the seven of you can do and get some stuff in motion.”
“You’re always better as a team. That’s why I say my voice isn’t any different than anyone else’s. We have to come together as a team to be able to make any decision and make it work. It’s really nice being able to have some contacts with the different levels of government and even the surrounding areas. It’s one of the joys of being in business as long as I have, I have met a vast number of people in our trading area.”
He reiterated that his business experience would be an important perspective on council.
“I believe it would be. I think we need to operate the municipal government more like a business than what we maybe are currently doing. I’ve got 37 years of experience in the local business community so I believe I have a strong business background I can bring to the table.”
Christiansen spent a dozen years on the board of Information Services Corporation, helping that group transition from a Saskatchewan Crown Corporation into a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
“Even though I’m a novice candidate I think I have a lot of experience and a broad spectrum of experience I can bring to the table and hopefully I can add my voice to our future decisions.”