Having served on La Ronge town council for a decade, mayor Thomas Sierzycki has decided to take a break from politics. Recently, Thomas spoke with Northern Pride about what’s going well in La Ronge, what’s not and what makes it a special place to live.
Q: What have been your major accomplishments as mayor?
A: I like to look at it three-fold. First of all, infrastructure was crumbling when I came into office and, the fact is, we’ve put a record amount into roads, water and sewer. Our generation system program is currently being completed, so now when there’s no power, water will continue to flow to the community because the sewage system is able to take it. Those are important things we felt were necessary to continue growing. That also includes the Mowery subdivision where there are 32 lots ready for development. We’ve sold four already this year and those are good things happening on the infrastructure side. Secondly, we wanted to give La Ronge a better name. Not to say it has a bad name, but media has a good ability to report on negative stories. We wanted to make sure we revised ourselves using social media, by establishing a positive website which we are currently revising, and also engaging with CTV and Global News. And lastly, we wanted to be financially responsible. We’ve made sure taxes have remained stable. There were some years of modest increases, but for the last three years, we’ve kept taxes at the same level for the fact we’re trying to entice businesses to develop. With those three aspects, we can build and continue to do good things.
Q: What’s the number one issue facing La Ronge?
A: It’s business growth. We’re at a crossroads where we do have good infrastructure and we’re working on the social determinate of health and factors with the alcohol strategy and things that need to happen. We need to have business investment into the community, whether it’s small or big business. As a municipality, we’re trying to do what we can to entice those businesses. There are several businesses on the horizon and within reach, and we need to ensure we can get there.
Q: With it being election season, what qualities does a person need to possess to be mayor?
A: I don’t want to speculate too much about what an individual should possess aside from wanting to do better for the community. The voters themselves can judge those qualities, whether it’s their educational background or what their experiences are. I came into office very young. At 21, I was elected mayor. I was just finishing a degree and I had three years of council experience. I did have some experience, but I’ve grown up in the office as well. People were able to give me a chance to hopefully move La Ronge in a positive direction.
Q: Do you plan on running again for an elected position?
A: Right now, I’m concentrating on my family and the next chapter in our lives. It’s no surprise I do love politics – I think I’m fairly good at it. I think the reason I’m in politics is to help people and make change. The last provincial campaign was disappointing, but we learned a lot. We brought northern issues to the forefront for the Saskatchewan Party and that was something I am proud of. In the future, if the right opportunities do align, we would definitely consider them. I’ve enjoyed my time as mayor and I believe having the background will assist in the next level of politics.
Q: What’s your current career?
A: I work as the community vitality coordinator for AREVA and Cameco. It’s an arm lengths, third-party partnership with the government, industry and the population health unit. What we do is monitor socio-economic trends in the uranium industry in northern Saskatchewan. Day-to-day, it includes doing studies and meeting with different people and groups who are interested in the uranium industry and the impact they’re having on communities, whether it’s leadership or other non-profit organizations. It also includes making sure our website is current and our budget is intact. There’s a lot of administrative work. I also help coordinate the steering committee.
Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born and raised in La Ronge. My parents, Andrzej and Malgorzata Sierzycki, immigrated from Poland in 1987 and my sister, Monica, and I were born here. When I ran for council in 2006, I decided to stay in the Northern Teacher Education Program to pursue a Bachelor of Education degree. I wanted to be involved in the community and give back. In 2009, I made the decision to run for mayor after my mom passed away from cancer. I knew my dad – who was also facing cancer – would remain living here. I decided to stay and continue my personal growth, benefit the community and also be here for my family. Since then, my dad passed away, unfortunately, but now I have a beautiful baby boy (Jozef) and a beautiful wife (Jodie). It’s the next phase of life. We all have our obstacles, challenges and differences in life, but La Ronge has been good to me and I’m proud to be from here.
Q: What was it like growing up in La Ronge?
A: I had a lot of opportunities. People often say in a small town you don’t have opportunities, but I found I was always busy whether through the student representative council or sports. I also appreciated the fact I knew people in La Ronge whether it was people a couple grades younger or older. It was also fairly supportive. Not to say we didn’t have our difficulties and our challenges, but I did enjoy growing up in La Ronge and that’s why I’m still here.
Q: Are you still involved in sports?
A: I’m doing some cross-country running coaching this year. I’m not facing a provincial campaign, so I’m not balancing too many things. It gives me the opportunity to give back as an alumnus of Churchill Community High School. The students have been great and it’s important to remain physically active, especially in northern Saskatchewan. We need to keep promoting sports, whether people want to be a top-calibre athlete or just to be healthy.
Q: How did you spend your summer?
A: Compared to last year and the forest fires that really upset people’s summer, this year there’s been a lot of boating, fishing and just enjoying the wilderness. Our friends have a cabin and we have a boat, so we like to take Jozef out for boat rides. He really enjoys them. It’s important to be grounded to nature. Once you have that ability, a lot of things come into focus.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Since our son was born, he’s been my main interest. It’s crazy how fast I miss him, whether I’m gone for a meeting or just at work. Outside of that, I enjoy running. I like to do five or 10-kilometre runs. Jodie and I have a 10-kilometre run coming up at Waskesiu at the end of the month. I like to keep our vehicles clean and do yard work as well. I enjoy those times and they’re kind of relaxing for me.
Q: Why do you like running?
A: I started running about 10 years ago and I found it to be a good stress reliever. At the time, I was working with emergency medical services as well as the fire department. I was going to school at the same time and it provided a good, solid stress relieving outlet.