Hope seeks to finish his 12-year pledge

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Randy Hope

 

Randy Hope wants four more years at the helm of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

He filed his nomination papers Sept. 2 to seek a third term as mayor, something he said he’d do months, and years, ago.

Hope said his plan in 2006 when he was first elected was three terms.

“In 2006 I made the comment of a 12-year plan. This would be my third term in order to accomplish the change – stabilization of the cost of taxation and increase investments and diversify,” Hope said.

His vision, he said, did not include the nosedive the stock market took late last decade or the steep decline in the automotive industry.

“We are not as far along as I’d have liked, but it’s rolling better now,” Hope said.

He said progress is evident through Standard & Poor’s giving the municipality an A-plus credit rating, as debt reduction has been a major part of it.

In late May, Hope told a gathering of local business  leaders as many as 700 new jobs were poised to come to Chatham-Kent. He said then the provincial election, which was only a couple of weeks away at the time, was delaying announcements. The same government was re-elected to Queen’s Park, but we have yet to see any of the hinted at announcements.

“I made a comment during the mayor’s address about 700 jobs. I’m hoping a number of these will come to fruition,” he said of the potential investments. “I’m hoping we can announce soon. If not, then I guess it will be after the election. It’s in the hands of the corporations.”

Hope would like to take the pressure off the residential tax base. He said it’s not a matter of shifting the load onto the industrial and commercial sectors, but rather bringing in new development.

But he said that doesn’t happen overnight.

“Everything with going overseas when dealing with foreign investment takes time. It’s build on trust and education,” he said.

But diversifying the tax base isn’t just about foreign investment, he added.  Domestic investment and even local investment is important. Business retention can’t be understated, Hope said.

Hope said the Chatham-Kent economy cannot rely on one sector of industry. That burned the municipality when the automotive sector stumbled badly in the 2000s.

“We have to diversify. That way you make sure when market conditions aren’t stable in one area, your community doesn’t suffer,” he said.

He said the municipality is seeing growth in agriculture, automotive and other sectors.

As for his plans for 2014-18 should he be re-elected, Hope said little has changed.

“I’m on the same path I’ve been going. My election technically began back in 2006,” he said, reiterating his three-term plan. “I’m not coming up with new ideas; I’m following my path.”

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