COCHRANE— Running on a platform of fiscal responsibility, building healthy futures and taking action on the issues that matter most to Cochranites, Dan Cunin has joined the race for a seat on Cochrane Town Council.
Cunin said his main priorities for Cochrane are addressing its ongoing traffic woes, actively promoting health and wellness in Cochrane by exploring the creation and expansion of recreational infrastructure in town and promoting the growth of the local economy through a “Cochrane first” purchasing policy for the town, which would require that projects approved by the Town would require services to be provided by locally registered businesses where ever feasible.
Cunin said he also wants to work with developers to provide incentives that promote sustainable and environmentally friendly building practices.
He noted that his platform was developed through conversations that he has had with locals over the time that he had been in Cochrane.
“What all of those campaigns points have in common, those come from conversations that I’ve had with people, that’s what they have said are important to them, and that’s why I’m motivated to address them,” he said.
Cunin first arrived in Cochrane in 2001 and was attracted to the community by the wealth of opportunity he saw here.
“I moved to Cochrane for a reason. I saw value, I saw a community, I saw something I wanted to be involved with a build on,” he said.
In 2008 Cunin ran for the provincial Green party after attending a party meeting in Calgary.
Cunin said during the meeting that he filled out nomination papers which he thought would open the door for discussions about his candidacy. He was surprised to learn that he had been selected overnight.
“The next day I’m answering questions from the press,” he said with a laugh. “I knew I had signed nomination papers, but again, the person who had got me to fill this out was saying ‘oh we’ll talk to you, no worries,’ and then before I knew it, I was running for the provincial Greens.”
Although the Greens never managed to pick up steam in the province, Cunin said the opportunity was a valuable learning experience.
“I really came to recognize the limitations and advantages of provincial politics,” he said. “I understand what that policy and that legislative framework can really mean to a greater number of people. I’ve always looked at that and have always been a little bit excited about it.”
Cunin said that he feels as though municipal politics is a much better avenue for him, as there is no party line to tow.
“Regardless of whatever my head tells me, I do give my opinion. That’s not going to work with provincial politics. I’m not there to serve a party, I’m there to serve the people,” he said. “Municipal politics, I kind of went this is me, myself and I and I get to stand for what I actually believe in here and live and die by my own words.”
Cunin has worked in three governmental positions in his career, as a children’s services as a caseworker and investigator, as an employment standards officer and currently as a career unemployment consultant in the social services department for the Government of Alberta.
His experience running for office and the positions he has held over his career have given him insight that will be valuable to him as a member of public office, he said.
“My experiences with the government have been really formative in that, I hate to say it, but nine times out of 10, it’s me realizing that ‘here’s a good idea, but you didn’t fund it properly, or you didn’t staff it properly or you really convoluted it with policy,’” he said. “So, I’ve learned a lot of things that I wouldn’t want to repeat, but at the same time it’s been really valuable – especially in those different departments – learning legislative law, learning about the role of policy in larger organizations and within government.”
Cunin said he plans to donate five per cent of his earnings from sitting on council to charity.
“I believe that a portion of this job is civic responsibility,” he said.
Although he acknowledged that he has a lot to learn, Cunin said he feels his collective experience will allow him to limit the amount of time he has to devote to learning the processes involved with municipal governments, which will allow him to get to work quickly.
“I think I can limit the learning curve, so I can get to work,” he said. “It’s one thing having an idea and an interest, but it’s another to think that I have some functional skills here.”