Chris Stern spent 25 years working for the City of Prince George, now he hopes to work for the taxpayers instead of city hall.
Stern worked in a variety of roles at city hall including carpenter, building inspector, foreman and various roles in the streets and sanitation departments. He left the city roughly seven years ago, and started his own contracting company five years ago.
“I almost worked in every department (of the city,)” Stern said. “I see a lot of problems that aren’t getting addressed.”
For example, he said he discovered the problem that led to sewage backing up onto 15th Avenue in February, closing several lanes of the main road for weeks. Stern said he alerted his supervisor about the issue when he worked there, but nothing was done about it.
“The city councilors don’t know the questions to ask,” he said. “Making financial decisions without telling council? You wouldn’t believe how often that happens. It has to change.”
Sterns said, if elected, he would use his inside knowledge of the city’s operations to expose the systemic problems at city hall.
However, the top issue facing the new city council elected on Oct. 15 should be “to get our downtown back,” he said.
“The downtown is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Stern said. “It’s not a matter for the RCMP… it’s a matter of getting people into homes.”
The people living on Prince George’s streets downtown are human beings who need proper housing and mental health and addiction supports, he said.
Not addressing those social issues is costing the taxpayers money, he added.
“That’s where a lot of our budget is going, when you look at it: RCMP, bylaws, cleaning up the trash. (And) there is so many companies boarded up,” Stern said. “We’ve got to get downtown… moving again.”
Stern said he doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to solving the ongoing issues downtown, but he would listen to what the experts have to say and vote in favour of measures that aimed at solving the problems.
“My goal is that I work for the taxpayers.”