A businessman from Mitchell is trying to become the next reeve for the Rural Municipality of Hanover.
Fifty-six-year-old Don Bouchard has lived all over Canada, but 12 years ago moved to the southeast after determining that this is where he wanted to raise his children because of the family values that are so important here. Yet, Bouchard says life in the southeast has taken a turn for the worse as a result of the tremendous rise in crime and drug use.
If elected reeve, Bouchard says he will make it one of his top priorities to help restore policing in rural areas.
"Where parents can actually feel safe about putting their kids on the street, sending them to the skatepark, sending them to the park that they don't have to worry," notes Bouchard.
Bouchard says increasing police presence would hinder drugs from coming into the municipality. He notes many residents are probably unaware of the level of drug activity in Hanover, and Bouchard says his many years of experience in working in prisons, with drug rehabilitation, with Teen Challenge and other organizations should enable him to help the situation.
"I think it's time for us to take this problem seriously and act upon it," adds Bouchard, noting he is very invested in today's youth and has experience working with youth at risk.
Bouchard says he thinks what resonates with people is that they have seen him become the hands and feet on the streets.
"To actually go to the youth and talk to them, talk to the street racers, talk to the addicted," says Bouchard. "I go to the tent cities regularly every week, so I put myself out there."
Bouchard, whose business involves flood restoration, says another one of his goals would be to work with other municipalities to find a solution to drainage concerns causing flooding in the southeast.
He says literacy is also near and dear to him and if elected, he would push for there to be less of a financial burden on Hanover residents using the Jake Epp Library in Steinbach.
"I'm not saying I can accomplish everything," admits Bouchard. "But I want to be there to be a voice and someone that actually cares to change things."
Bouchard admits he has no political experience but says he wants the public to tell him what they would expect from him as reeve.
"I don't want to come in here as a politician, I want to come in here as a voice for the community," says Bouchard.
He notes while knocking on doors the other day, he came to realize that what concerns him, are the same things that concern residents of Hanover. At the end of the day, people want to feel safe on the streets and parents want for their children to be kept out of harm's way. Bouchard adds his slogan is Preserving Our Values, Protecting Our Future.
Bouchard says he has been touched by the overwhelming support he is receiving from the public towards his candidacy.
"It brought me to tears to see that people supported my campaign and they thought it was a breath of fresh air," he adds.