Council candidate Sandra Oberdorfer, a former School District of Mystery Lake trustee who was born and raised in Thompson, moved away for awhile and then came back, says she’s running for city council to improve her hometown over the long term.
“We want to retire in Thompson, my husband and I, and we would like it to be a place that our kids would want to stay in and raise their families here as well,” she says.
In order for that to happen, not only for her family but for others who are already here, as well as to attract new residents, the city needs the right infrastructure to offer a good quality of life, which is why Oberdorfer is determined to see Thompson open a new pool during the next term of mayor and council.
“There’s a whole slew of reasons why it’s important for us to have a pool in our community,” Oberdorfer said. “I’ve been hearing within the community that employers are also struggling with job retention because we don’t have a pool for people to access so they’re not wanting to come to our community.”
Oberdorfer also wants Thompson to be an inclusive city that works to improve the lives of all its residents, which is why she believes initiatives like the recently opened sobering/healing centre on Princeton Drive and the planned healing lodge for youth involved with the criminal justice system are vital.
“The new healing centre or sobering centre, as some people are referring to it, there are future plans of expanding that facility to include transitional housing and things like that,” she says. “I definitely want to be at the table to make sure that those expansion plans are supported and that we’re able to proceed as a community in the right direction.”
The youth healing lodge can help Thompson in its battle against crime and some of its root causes, the candidate feels.
“I think we need to start looking at how, as a city, can we start to have some more intervention methods within our community,” says Oberdorfer. “What can we do to stop these issues from starting earlier on with our younger population, instead of waiting until it becomes a huge issue?”
Being an inclusive community also means working closely with Indigenous organizations and First Nations, not only in symbolic ways, but before and while decisions are made.
“They really need to enhance those partnerships and make sure that they’re meaningful partnerships, and that Indigenous organizations and Indigenous people are at the table while those decisions are happening, not looping them in after the fact to get their opinion or input on different things that are going on within our city. I’m hoping that I can be one of those leaders in our community that can really bring back an understanding of why it’s important to prioritize those relationships.”
Describing herself as a community development-minded person, Oberdorfer says being on council would be an extension of other work she has done, professionally and as a volunteer, to make Thompson a better place.
“I’ve always been a part of trying to change Thompson for the better to improve our future as a city and a region,” she says.
She also believes that she could offer a different perspective than many of the people who have run for and been on past councils, a significant proportion of whom are retired or nearing retirement age.
“We have historically not had a lot of younger people,” Oberdorfer says. “I think it brings a different perspective and we think about things in a different way in terms of what the future of our city looks like.”