“My job is to work with high-risk youth. I work in Northeast Edmonton and cars get stolen all the time … and it’s done a lot by youth. Part of that is poverty, and part of that is the transit system. But we notice that these youth were getting taken to jail, and when they go to jail they learn more skills to steal cars. So we thought, ‘Maybe there’s a way when they get arrested, instead of sending them to the Edmonton Young Offender Centre, we can send them to a car mechanic shop and train them how to fix cars instead of how to steal them.’ We have about eight kids in the program right now—it’s probably one of my best projects or one of the things I’m most proud of because we’ve taken kids who have fifty interactions with police in a year and—we’ve had this one youth since November—and he’s only had four calls since he’s been with us. So he’s thriving and he’s doing really well. Before that nothing else would work, so I think giving him that opportunity to learn something and work with his hands … he’s been teaching other kids how to do it, which I think is pretty cool. So that’s one of the examples of the work that we do.”
“Community development is a hard job because it’s really up and down. You’ll spend months and sometimes years planning to get things off the ground. The mechanic shop is called Rebuild and we worked on that for two and a half years to find funding, to find space, to find the partners to run it … our work is really long term—it’s hard to stay in the job sometimes because we don’t get to see the tangible results often. But when you do and things start, you’re like, ‘Okay, I’m ready for another two-year slog.’ Community development can be a trying environment but I really enjoy it. It’s fun because you’re helping people in a different way and you’re helping people in a longer term kind of way because our job is to find sustainability and consistent solutions.”
The two join former Conservative MP Jason Kenney and Calgary lawyer Byron Nelson in the race to fill the spot vacated by former leader Jim Prentice.
If he wins, Kenney has stated he will fold the PC party and pursue a merger with the Wildrose Party.
Starke, a retired veterinarian and tourism minister in the last PC government, said he has no interest in that option as it does not reflect the wishes of party members who voted in favour of continuing with the party.