Brent Trenholm said he think Calgary’s current city council has lost sight of how their decisions impact front line workers and the city’s citizens.
And with his background as a millwright welder, he has the perspective of the blue-collar workers and doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves to get things done.
That’s why he’s jumping into the Ward 3 city council race.
“I work with my hands and I see how things function, and I’m a pretty observant guy,” Trenholm said.
Trenholm said first and foremost though, he’s a family guy. His wife is a retired school principal, he has three kids and six grandkids.
He moved to Calgary in 2015 after spending 15 years in Edmonton. He first came to Alberta in 1997 from British Columbia.
While in BC, he did serve on a city council in the lower mainland. He said he ran on a recreation ticket – one that served both kids and families. It wasn’t about politics.
“I’m doing this because I don’t do anything unless I get passionate about something, I guess we’ll say,” Trenholm said.
Don’t manage, lead
Trenholm said he sees many on council with the smarts, but a real lack of leadership skills.
“You need to be able to manage processes and lead people,” he said.
“I find what we’re lacking now is that our politicians are trying to manage people, instead of trying to lead them, because they lack leadership skills.”
While he’s predominantly worked with his hands most his life, Trenholm had to manage people – and plants. He’s had to travel the world for business and seen how things operate in other parts of the world.
Right now, he runs a consulting business where they look at management and the employee culture by talking with the employees. They work from the ground up to find where things are disconnected.
“I find out where the missing pieces are or where they have their silos,” he said.
“You don’t need to overthink a lot of stuff. You just need to go and use practical applications.”
He wants to bring that perspective to city hall.
“The city kind of looks at things with these big, visionary, maybe in a lot of people’s minds, rose-coloured glasses,” Trenholm said.
“Instead of thinking about the impact that it has on those frontline employees. I truly believe that’s why I’ve got involved in this.”
He doesn’t want to say it needs to be run like a business, but there’s a clear line where income and expenses need to be kept in perspective, Trenholm said.
Ward 3 issues
Trenholm said he believes the actual ‘train to nowhere’ is the end of the Green Line at 16 Avenue N. It perpetuates the belief that north central Calgary gets left out of major infrastructure spends.
While he supports the Green Line, Trenholm said he has questions around the use of different track styles and therefore different cars. He believes there’s likely operational savings in keeping things like the old-style track.
“I think the planning has been poor, and it’s been going on for 20 years, which means that people have a hard time planning and hard time making decisions,” he said.
On the divide between urban redevelopment in the south part of the ward and suburban development in the north, Trenholm said it’s about listening to the needs in the area and then acting.
“It’s pretty simple in that perspective. Then it’s about working for them,” he said.
Fluoride, speed and police funding
Trenholm doesn’t think fluoride serves a purpose in Calgary’s water supply. He wouldn’t support adding it to Calgary’s water.
On the recently approved unposted speed issue, Trenholm said it seems like a lot of money spent for little impact.
“I think it’s short sighted of this council to go and reduce it at a cost of $2.8 million, where they could spend that money on recreation or something for kids and families,” he said.
Most people travel the 50 km/h limit or less in his area, he said. Further, he said that police can’t enforce the current speed limit in neighbourhoods, so they won’t do any better at 40 km/h.
“Most people are smart and they go according to the road conditions,” he said.
“There’s the occasional person who figures that doesn’t matter to them. You can try to force them to obey stuff, but unless you educate them properly…”
Trenholm said he fine with police being reviewed but taking money from the Calgary police without a plan already in place to use it is “silly policy.”
No ulterior motive
Trenholm said he’s not your typical politician. He wants to make the city operate better, more aligned with citizen wants and needs.
He said, if elected, his first order of business would be to take a look at the corporate structure – whether it’s top down or bottom up in terms of decision making. Or, whether it’s outside (citizens) in, or inside out.
“I’m not cut from the same cloth as a lot of politicians. I’m doing this for to help straighten things out, that’s all. I have no ulterior motive,” Trenholm said.
His approach is one of true collaboration, not one of BS collaboration, he said.
“I provide a well-rounded thought pattern and a practical application to making decisions, so we don’t talk about the same issue for 20 years,” Trenholm said.
Calgary’s municipal election will be held Oct. 18.