Miller to take on Taft in Invermere mayoral race

A second member of the District of Invermere council is in the hunt for the mayor's chair.

Al Miller

Al Miller

A second member of the District of Invermere council is in the hunt for the mayor’s chair.

First-term councillor Al Miller will run against incumbent mayor Gerry Taft in this year’s November municipal election.

Miller, owner of Home Hardware and president of the Columbia Valley Rockies hockey club, says he’s considered running for mayor for years — well before he was elected to district council in 2008.

“I was tempted, but decided I needed to get my feet wet. I needed to learn from the ground up,” Miller says.

“So I’ve done my term on council and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve got lots more to learn, but I think the time is right. It’s been a dream for a long time. Now’s my chance and I’m going to take a run for it.”

Miller says many of the issues he’s hoping to champion in the fall campaign stem from his work as a volunteer in the community, as well as concerns he’s heard from residents and visitors.

“I’m a little concerned about families,” he says, citing declining school enrollments and a lack of employment opportunities to keep locals in the valley as two problem areas.

“I see a lot of need [while volunteering], so I think I’ve got a pretty good understanding as to how to provide for some of those need.”

If he’s successful in his bid for mayor, Miller says economic development would be a primary focus. He’d also work to expand local recreation opportunities and push for a recreation director for the Invermere area. As well, he would work with local arts groups to fill a performance-space “void” he sees in the district’s cultural community.

“I’m not suggesting I’m going to come in and build a theatre right off the bat,” he says. “But I am suggesting that with working with the groups who are interested, working with some philanthropists, working with government, we can maybe pull something together.”

Overall, Miller says he’s pleased with the state of Invermere at the moment, “but there’s a few areas of concern.”

“I’ve been told by different people that the town isn’t as friendly as it once was,” he says. “I think we have to do a better job with the welcome mat, because there’s a lot of competition out there.”