Mayoral candidate Q&A: Penny Byer

How long have you been living in Thompson?

I’ve been living here for 40 years. I moved here in 1978 to open up the CBC station.

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What do you do for a living?

I have freelance writing contracts here and there. Aside from that, my time is spent volunteering.

Why do you want to be mayor?

I think Thompson has a tremendous future and it’s only going to achieve that future if you have somebody who is willing to think outside the box, who has a vision, who is willing to really listen to other people and try to engage them in whatever decision-making process there is. I feel like I fit those [qualifications]. I love Thompson. I’ve had several opportunities to move. I’ve had job offers in other provinces. I just can’t see [myself] leaving Thompson. I love it. I love the people here. I love the challenges.

What is your vision for Thompson throughout the next four years?

I want to see Thompson as a growing community, where any visitor to Thompson has loads of things to do. Not just a restaurant to eat in and a place to pick up groceries, but family entertainment, cultural entertainment, cultural education. I want to see it growing. I want to see the economy so diverse that if one sector of the economy is in trouble, it doesn’t affect the whole city. The whole city doesn’t get into a panic the way it is now.

How do you plan on contending with the ongoing economic issues that have been plaguing Thompson lately?

The short term is it’s going to start close to home and it’s going to start with employees, asking employees for their ideas where we can reduce our costs, become more efficient, hopefully without reducing any services or taking any services away. That’s the goal. The other thing is to look for more partnerships. To get anything that you want to accomplish, any programs you want to offer, even if it’s capital development that you want to go after, look for partnerships. Other communities use private government partners. That’s not something we’ve done very often and that is something I would like to explore.

Why should someone vote for you over the other candidates?

I believe in building relationships and communication. Your economic development and everything will follow much more easily if you have sound relationships and if you’re communicating with people. So I think people already know that I will communicate with them, I will sit down and listen to them and we’ll have discussions. The other thing is I’m not tied down to any job or any business or anything like that. The volunteer organizations that I belong to, they’ve already been notified that if I’m successful [in the election] I will have to pull out of those organizations. In essence, I would be about as close as a full-time mayor as we’ve had since the Don MacLean days.

Anything else you want to add?

We’re a hub … by our geographic location and we’ve done very little to actually grow ourselves as a hub or promote ourselves as a hub. So we have to do some strategic planning and the best example I can give you is our winter weather testing. We were a winter weather testing centre quite by accident. We didn’t even know people were coming up to test vehicles. Once we found out then we formalized it and it grew and we have had a lot more companies come into winter weather testing. So that same kind of thinking has to be applied to the hub.

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