Ernie Isley is "starting to enjoy the job" as mayor of Bonnyville and that is why he'll be seeking a third term come this October's municipal election.
"I started to enjoy it more than I thought I would," Isley told the Nouvelle recently.
The 73-year-old Isley has a long history with the town and area, moving here in 1971 to be principal at Bonnyville Centralized High School. He and his wife, Sheila, raised four children here and Isley will proudly tell you he is a grandfather to 10 and a great grandfather to one with another on the way. With all his offspring living in the area, Isley said it's another good reason to stay involved in the community and actively participate in its future.
Isley has an impressive political career. He served four terms in the provincial political arena as the area's Conservative MLA from 1979 to 1993. He got the nod three times as a minister in the Conservative caucus finishing his last term as the Agriculture minister from 1989 to 1993.
His foray into municipal politics in 2004 came about largely because of the Centennial Centre.
"I got into it originally by chairing the fundraising for the C2 and then wanting to see that project through, that's the main reason I ran for mayor."
The Centennial Centre is one of the main reasons Isley said he'd like to continue in the mayor's chair for another three years.
"I'd like to see a discussion on the next phase of the Centennial Centre," he said, explaining that discussion could centre around the inclusion of the Lyle Victor Theatre in an expanded C2 along with a swimming pool. The performing arts theatre is in need of upgrades and Isley described the pool as being on "its last legs." He anticipates once the C2's 2010 fiscal year is completed and the operational costs are reviewed, the confidence will be there in the community to move forward with planning for phase II of the facility.
Isley became the town's mayor in March 2006 after Ray Prevost announced he'd be leaving the position a year and a half into his term. No one challenged Isley in the by-election and he was acclaimed. In the 2007 municipal election, again no challengers stepped forward and Isley was acclaimed for a second time.
Isley has a few other items on his list of unfinished business that he would like to be around to see completed or resolved.
Long-term planning for Bonnyville's water supply has been ongoing and Isley is disappointed by the lack of progress on that front.
Bonnyville currently gets its water from Moose Lake. However, if the Town is to meet higher standards for water quality in the future, Isley said the best option is for a water pipeline from Cold Lake. But that prospect has been sidelined with City of Cold Lake officials expressing concern over the potential impact of such a pipeline on the lake.
"If something doesn't break we will have to look at options other than the Cold Lake water commission."
Isley would like to see the East Gate development "off and running" as well as Gateway Industrial Park. With the Town committing to front the costs of road and service to the new industrial park, Isley said it's a smart investment. He was also pleased to see the sod turned on the new RCMP detachment. He is excited about the development planned for in and around Bonnyville and said it bodes well for the future or the community.
Asked about regional government and whether he believes there will be pressure to move in that direction, Isley is quick to discount it.
"Sooner or later, the province will have to address the problem of regional disparity in the province but regional government is not going to solve it. I do believe, before the next provincial election, you will see a move to re-distribution of non residential taxes."
As to whether Isley believes anyone will challenge him for the mayor's chair:
"I would be surprised if I wasn't (challenged)," Isley said. "If somebody I had a lot of confidence in put their name in, I could step aside. I'm not saying I would (step aside)."