Whether attempting to climb Kilimanjaro, helping to rebuild a Third World community after a hurricane, or running as MLA in an Alberta provincial election, Len Bracko has never been one to back down from a challenge. Perhaps it goes back to his youth when he enjoyed wild horse racing and bareback competitions in amateur rodeos.
Born in Elk Point and raised in Edmonton, Bracko was a junior and senior high school teacher with greater St. Albert Catholic School Division before retiring in 2001 to engage full time in volunteer and political activities. He entered politics originally in response to a challenge from his students. It was 1986 when the province went $3.5 billion into debt. I said to my students, “you’ll have to do something about it.” They said “we want to enjoy our high school years – you do something about it.’” He ran for MLA in the 1989 election, and came in second.
Six months later he ran for city council and served as alderman until 1992 before taking another run at the Legislature. “People told me I had one chance in a million to win,” Bracko recalls. This time he was successful and served as MLA from 1993 to1997, when he lost his seat by a mere 16 votes. “Every vote counts and don’t ever doubt it.”
He went back to teaching, and then was elected back to city council after retiring in 2001. “I wanted to assist in addressing the issues facing municipalities in Alberta and throughout Canada and so I volunteered on a number of standing committees with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM),” states Bracko.
Bracko and his wife Barb have also been active in international development work. They have helped international students in Canada through various programs over the past 30 years and have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Nepal and Nicaragua, where they helped to build houses in a poverty-stricken community after Hurricane Mitch in 1998. “It is unbelievable how your priorities change after doing something like that,” he says. “We’re so blessed in so many ways – just having clean water and a shower when you get up in the morning.”
Bracko has also participated in international developmental work in Tanzania. In 2005 he and his wife tackled Mt. Kilimanjaro. “She made it to within three hours of the summit and I got within six hours before succumbing to altitude sickness.”
Len looks forward to the new challenges that would come in being elected to the Senate of Canada. He would like to:
- help forge a new partnership among all orders of government, the private sector and NGOs to address the issues facing Canadians today, to decrease duplication of services and to increase efficiencies;
- implement a long term sustainability plan for Canada; and
- ensure Canada is fiscally responsible so we can remain globally competitive.
Len is up for the challenge!