Wednesday, 22 April 2015 15:16

Medicine Hat Alberta Party candidate hasn’t forgotten his rural roots

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Jim Black talks to a Medicine Hat riding constituent following a candidates' forum at Medicine Hat's Chinook Village April 16. Jim Black talks to a Medicine Hat riding constituent following a candidates' forum at Medicine Hat's Chinook Village April 16. Photo by Ryan Dahlman

Other than a smattering of workers or media, Alberta Party candidate Jim Black (Medicine Hat) looks at a crowd of seniors during a political forum April 16 at Chinook Village and speaks earnestly as the May 5 Alberta provincial election approaches.

“I will work hard for you; I will talk to you and will listen to your concerns,” explains Black who talks about his experience in health care, children’s issues and education. “Everything starts at home ... I speak from my heart and I will speak for you.”
While it sounds like political rhetoric, for Black, if resumés or anecdotal evidence from social media is to be believed, he speaks the truth.
Black has been working in education and health since he moved to Alberta from Ontario almost 50 years ago. Following his work as police officer in Ontario and then coming to Alberta as a petroleum worker in 1968, Black got his Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education and Teaching from the University of Calgary in 1974. He taught in the County of Red Deer and then moved to Brooks where he taught and amongst his positions, he was principal of the school in Duchess and Alcoma in Rainier for a total of 28 years.
He finally retired as principal at the Outreach School in Brooks in 2009, but had moved to Medicine Hat in 2002. Black is no stranger to politics and governing. He ran for Medicine Hat city council in 2013.
He also has served on a variety of boards and committees including the Senior Citizens’ Advisory Committee, the Palliser Triangle Health Advisory Council, the Children’s Services Board and the Palliser Regional Health Board. While a member of the Palliser Health Board, in his biography it indicates he chaired the physicians liaison committee and the community liaison committee.  He is also communications chair for the 2016 Alberta Winter Games and currently the political engagement officer for Alberta Teachers’ Association Local 2 in the Prairie Rose School Division.
Black has also volunteered his time for more than 30 years, sitting on recreation and agriculture boards in the County of Newell, coaching sports and judging for 4-H and even science fairs.
When talking to him, he is what he seems — a no-nonsense, yet very understanding and thoughtful person.
“I can’t change who I am,” Black says honestly.
Black got involved with the Alberta Party after party administrators made some calls to people in Medicine Hat to find out if there were any decent candidates who would run in the Medicine Hat constituency.
On numerous occasions, Black’s name came up. Black says he investigated the Alberta Party’s platform and liked what he saw with their centrist ideals.
“I’m a fiscal conservative, but a social progressive,” says Black who also was a small business owner.
He says the Alberta Party has strong ties to small business and hindrance to their growth should be greatly reduced.
“(For example) we need to increase corporate taxes by one per cent so as to give money to encourage entrepreneurs in the province.”
Black recalls a federally-funded program he was involved in when he was principal in Duchess where rural entrepreneurs were encouraged with education and funding incentives. He says employers in Brooks were involved and the program worked well but due to a technicality, it was eliminated. However, Black says he knows it was a success as a couple of those students have businesses there today.  He currently teaches business to students in Bow Island.
Black says the Party believes that’s where the province should be built from — Alberta built in Alberta by Albertans.
Black also is not happy with health care which has seen increased budgets from $8 billion in 2004 to $18 billion in 2015. Health care spending needs to be more effective and help those at the ground level who need it, especially in long-term care, home care and wait times in hospitals.
Everybody thinks that health-care (spending) is like a reverse pyramid.” says Black. “It’s actually a web. Whatever you do here, affects what’s going on here and here and here.”
Black says there is a major difference between working with and living in the urban area as opposed to the rural. However, he applies what he learned living in the rural area to what he does in Medicine Hat.
“It’s the importance of community ... importance of community input and talking to people directly,” says Black. “You can make much better decisions.”

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Ryan Dahlman

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