John Barlow has a strong record of service to his local community.
Now the Okotoks resident wants to serve as the Member of Parliament for the Macleod riding.
“I’ve always been a small town guy,” said Barlow, who was born and raised in Saskatchewan and has lived in the Macleod riding for 20 years. “I want to make sure our small communities are heard in Ottawa.”
Barlow is one of four people to express interest in the Conservative nomination to replace Claresholm farmer Ted Menzies, who resigned last fall as Macleod MP.
Melissa Mathieson, Phil Rowland and Scott Wagner have also expressed interest in replacing Menzies.
The nomination vote will take place in February or March, with a by-election likely in May.
Barlow studied political science at the University of Regina and journalism at SAIT Polytechnic.
Barlow worked for three years at the High River Times before moving to the Okotoks Western Wheel, where he has spent 17 years and is now associate publisher and editor.
He is also senior editor in southern Alberta for Great West Newspapers, overseeing the editorial departments for papers in Okotoks, Cochrane, Rockyview and Airdrie, and serves on advisory boards for the journalism programs at SAIT and Mount Royal University.
In his journalism career, Barlow has won numerous awards for newspaper excellence and editorial and column writing.
Barlow and his wife Louise, who was raised in High River, have lived the past 10 years in Okotoks. They have three children, Graeden, 23, Kinley, 20, and McKenna, 15.
While living in Okotoks, Barlow plunged into community life. He is vice-president of the Okotoks Rotary Pub Club and Friends of the Junior A Okotoks Oilers hockey club, and chairman of the Foothills Highland Games and High Country Sports Facility Fund-raising Society.
Barlow is also communications director for the Firefit Games, a member of the Okotoks Library Board and serves on the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association’s membership committee.
Barlow, who has coached hockey, baseball and football, has assisted with fund-raising for organizations such as Literacy For Life, Foothills Country Hospice, KidSport, Westmount School Playground, Scott Seaman Rink at Heritage Heights, Blackie Arena and Sheep River Health Trust.
This is Barlow’s first attempt at federal politics, having campaigned in 2012 in the provincial Highwood riding.
Barlow won the Progressive Conservative nomination, replacing George Groeneveld, and then faced off against Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith in the provincial election.
“I look at the provincial election as my first step into it. I learned a lot of lessons from it,” Barlow said.
Barlow was inspired to seek the Conservative nomination in Macleod during the severe flooding in June.
“I saw a lot of my friends and family were flooded in High River, Okotoks, Black Diamond and Turner Valley,” Barlow said. “I saw that we didn’t have an advocate for them when Menzies stepped down. There’s going to be nobody there for that voice.”
Barlow said southern Albertans will need an advocate in the future.
“I want to make sure a year from now, when the rest of the world has forgotten what happened in southern Alberta, that Ottawa hasn’t forgotten, that Parliament still understands that there’s funds and programs to ensure the mitigation and recovery process goes on,” Barlow said. “That was really the main thing that spurred me on to do this.”
Barlow and his wife Louise spent days working alongside their friends whose businesses and houses were flooded.
“You just do it because your friends need you,” Barlow said. “It was amazing to see how people came together and worked for somebody they might not even know.”
Barlow would bring to the job of MP 25 years of experience as a journalist, along with numerous contacts he has made.
“I have a pretty strong network of contacts that I know to get things done when issues arise. I know the people to go and talk to,” Barlow said. “I also know how the decisions made at different levels of government impact people on the street. I’ve covered those business owners and residents and community groups for two decades and I know how decisions impact them at the local level.”
Barlow is spending the days leading up to the nomination expanding his list of contacts, and his knowledge of issues in the southern part of the riding.
“I’ve had a great group of people step on board with my team who have been gracious enough to take me around,” Barlow said. “It’s fantastic these people who have been acquaintances for a couple of years have jumped on board.”
Barlow is hopeful his varied professional, volunteer and political experience will appeal to party members and voters in the Macleod riding.
“This is a new challenge, and I embrace a challenge,” Barlow said.