One of 14 candidates for a seat on Slave Lake town council, TinaMarie Ritter has a couple of things going for her that distinguish her from most of her competitors in the race. One is a family connection to the area that goes back at least a century.
“My great-great grandfather lived here, on the Lesser Slave River,” she says. “My great-grandfather, too.” Their name was Loyie and the town was called Sawridge in those days.
Ritter has lived in the community for about 20 years, having moved here from Terrace, B.C. to join her mother. Born in Edmonton, she grew up there, in Chipman Alberta and in Terrace, before coming to Slave Lake and finishing her schooling. She has worked as a legal secretary for the past seven years or so.
Ritter has an impressive record of volunteering in the community. It resulted in her being nominated and winning Slave Lake’s Citizen of the Year award in 2017.
“That was quite an honour,” she says.
Ritter says her first volunteer experience was with the Friendship Centre. She still helps out there sometimes. Same goes for the Legion. She spent several years as a Girl Guides leader and served in both the Rotary and Elks clubs. She’s also on the board of Slave Lake Minor Soccer, and coaches.
“I’ve also been on the Victim Services board.”
As for why she’d like to serve on town council, Ritter talks about the need for balance on the new council. She notes that there are quite a few candidates (including most of the incumbents) whose focus is on economic development.
“I’m okay with that,” she says. “But there are people who struggle from paycheque to paycheque.” She thinks it’s important “to have somebody on town council who understands that, and is going to support them.”
Ritter says she’s in favour of more support for the less fortunate, more programs in housing, for youth and seniors – that sort of thing. Having someone on council with a focus on helping people most at risk she thinks would be good for the council and the community, and she wants to be that person.
“The community is only as strong as the people in it,” Ritter says. She sees herself as the advocate on council for more social and mental health supports and such. With that side of things well represented, “I feel we can achieve great things.”