Amid the sounds of spoons clanging against piping hot coffee cups, Jeff Genung, surrounded by his core family supporters, officially launched his campaign to run for chief commander of Cochrane Sept. 7.
The 49-year-old father of two, owner of Cochrane Coffee Traders and 13-time Ironman competitor is campaigning on the slogan “Community NOW ” and will do his best to knock on every door leading up to the Oct. 16 election.
“It’s time to take back our town … I’m all in, ” said Genung, dressed for success in a suit and ready to take traffic congestion to task.
His two terms on council, from 2001-2007, lit a fire for politics that was left to smoulder for a decade. In that time, Genung and wife, Danielle, were busy with their two young children and their new barista business. The family has decided now is the time to get back into politics.
“It’s always been his dream to be mayor of Cochrane, ” said Danielle, head coach for the Cochrane Comet Swim Club, yoga instructor and business partner.
The pillars of his campaign are positioned on Connectivity, Communication and Culture.
Mindful that the province has promised to rectify the intersection at 1A/22 highways, Genung said he would advocate strongly for the long-overdue twinning of Highway 1A - imploring council as a whole to accompany him to meet with the province to get the message across.
“I would write a letter every day, ” said the lifelong Cochranite, who would advocate for better access in and out of communities and go after policy to guide the town’s planning department in his push for better-managed growth.
The time for public transit is also approaching.
“I’m in favour of looking into a pilot project to initiate localized transit to connect our communities. ”
Quality of life for seniors is something close to the mayoral candidate’s heart - gesturing to his supportive parents who have lived in town for 41 years.
He will vie for the former pool site as the new home for the Seniors On The Bow (SOTB) Centre.
He said seniors are a growing segment of the who have been pushed aside as a result of rapid growth and have been left with a centre in a location at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) that has “serious accessibility issues. ”
He applauded volunteer groups - naming the Cochrane Lions and the Rotary Club of Cochrane and Area in particular - emphasizing he would “work with the Lions to renew a long-term lease ” at the Cochrane Lions Event Centre (former curling club), as the lease is up for renewal in 2019 - referencing contentious talk implying relocating the rodeo grounds outside of downtown Cochrane.
He is also an advocate for more task force groups, saying how “disappointed ” he has been with the limited number of town-led community action groups.
Emphatic that the terms “accountability ” and “transportation ” are “not taken lightly, ” Genung stressed that encouraging debate, community engagement and ensuring that town decisions are not made, nor dollars spent, behind closed doors.
“He would be in favour of a task force to investigate getting the wheels in motion for an arts/cultural centre, but said “infrastructure (roads) need to come first. ”
The chief coffee connoisseur said he understands the growing pains faced by the growing foothills community - including the need for the new police station in Heartland and looking into the annual policing budget to get more RCMP officers in town.
As a business owner for the last 16 years, Genung is sympathetic to the struggles faced by small businesses that face increasing expenses and high commercial rents.
“I’m a little disappointed with the off-site levies being charged to existing (established) businesses … I know the town needs to pay for roads and bridges, but to restrict existing businesses from growing seems a little off to me. ”
Growth on town borders would be best addressed by being good neighbours.
He is in agreement with the town’s likely future position of appealing the recently approved Glenbow Ranch Area Structure Plan in Rocky View County - that would pave the way for a roughly estimated 16,000 people over 20 years on the town’s eastern borders.
Genung will participate in the Cochrane Eagle/Lions Club all-candidates forum, taking place at the Cochrane Lions Event Centre Sept. 26 from 5:30-9 p.m.
Visit jeffgenung.com to learn more and expect to his Genung and his team out in full force door knocking and putting up signs by next week.