Steve Brent just wants to help his community.
That’s why he decided to wade into the mayoral fray..
Brent said he has a deep love of the municipality and thought it was time to take action.
“I’ve been supportive of Randy,” he said of incumbent Mayor Randy Hope. “I’ve tried to be supportive and offer direction as much as I can. But the darned taxes just keep going up. They (councillors) have been making less-than-stellar decisions on a great many fronts.”
Brent wants to see a shift towards zero-based budgeting, but realizes with the large-scale infrastructure the municipality must maintain, it won’t be easy.
“Council could get things done fighting for the right reasons – tax savings, chasing the right investments, paying down the debt and looking at capital assets,” he said. “I believe with the councillors I’ve talked to, we would have a great voice.”
Brent said family and friends have long encouraged him to seek public office.
“The municipality is in such a shape that it needs drastic change. I also believe that Chatham-Kent is ready for that change,” he said.
The financial advisor said red tape stands between the municipality and prosperity. He said new businesses wanting to come here and expansions to existing businesses get tied up in it.
“People have come to me and said they need help. They’re trying to expand, but it’s too expensive,” he said. “And then there are places where the municipality is actually competing with local businesses, such as the case with the Bradley Convention Centre. I don’t understand it. That’s not right.”
He said councillors must examine how the municipality operates more closely, and improve that process.
“It’s all about keeping people employed,” he said of helping the private sector. “And I think the taxpayers deserve a better-managed community.”
Brent does like how the municipality has expanded voting options, including electronic voting, calling it a “real opportunity to save time … and be part of the election process.”
Given the fact seven people are running for mayor and the resulting potential for splitting the vote, Brent thinks it’s important for more people to be involved, and informed. Voter turnout in the 2010 municipal election in Chatham-Kent was below 40%.
“They all have their areas where they offer their specialties and expertise,” he said of his fellow candidates. “I look forward to the debates to prove I can do better.”