The Poke and the Pitch

After Woody Guthrie died, Bob Dylan was asked to submit a piece for a book that was coming out. "Something about Woody," Bob said. "Sort of like: what does Woody Guthrie mean to you in 25 words." He wrote out 5 pages and it became a spoken word piece called "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie". Trying to condense your thoughts is difficult, especially when it's something you're particularly passionate about, like Dylan was about Woody.

Shaw Cable is offering the candidates in this election the opportunity to share our "25 words" about why people should vote for us on the 18th; we actually get three minutes. If the completely ad libbed interview was the poke, the prepared Shaw Cable interview is the pitch. It's like that final question in the job interview when they ask "Why should we hire you for this job?" Here is what I came up with:


Hi. My name is Russell Thomas, and I’m running for Council in Ward 1 of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. I am the Director of Marketing and Communications at Keyano College, President of Events Wood Buffalo and a member of the board of Leadership Wood Buffalo.

I’m married to my beautiful wife Heather, who is a certified massage therapist and yoga teacher and owner of the Ananda Centre for Balance. We have two sons, Dylan (11) and Ben (7) who are students at Dr. Clark School. We live in downtown Fort McMurray, just a couple blocks from the river and my favourite fishing spot.

I came to Wood Buffalo in the dead of winter in 1996, just before the oil sands industry took off again and this community and region began to grow at an unparalleled rate. From the very beginning I got involved with the community, joining the interPLAY Society, participating in the food bank drives, organizing the Canada Day Fireworks concert (back when we used to do it on the hill next to the bridge) and performing on the Keyano Theatre stage.

I want to be on Council because I know that I have a lot to offer. I have a proven track record of being successful in a team environment, of being collaborative, creative and getting things done. I believe that as Councillors we need to seek first to understand. It is our job! To listen, to learn, to debate, to challenge the process, to inspire a shared vision of what is possible in Wood Buffalo. We need to encourage, demonstrate leadership, be respectful of one another, and honour and embrace the responsibility we’ve been given.

My platform is rooted in the belief that this great region can be even greater. We need to turn the vision of the Riverfront Master Plan into reality. We need to continue focusing on our infrastructure, always working ahead of the growth curve so we don’t have play catch-up again. Quality of life initiatives need to be brought to the top of the priority list to ensure we have a region that attracts and retains families and people who want to build a life here. We need to continue working with the province to build facilities for our seniors, they are the backbone of our region and need to be honoured, respected and served.

I believe that we live in an incredible region, and that BIG SPIRIT is more than a fancy catch phrase. It truly defines what is absolutely unique about Wood Buffalo. As the 2010 Big Spirit Ambassador Award recipient, I pledge to continue telling our story and shaping it, as Wood Buffalo becomes the envy of Alberta, Canada and the World. On October 18th I’m asking for your support. Thank you.

October 4, 2010 - 197.6 pounds, 35.4% body fat


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