I have served on Chatham-Kent council for eight years. I have always based my informed decisions on what was best for C-K as a whole.
I am running for mayor because we are ready for a leader who has the ability and experience to lead our municipality into the future. As your mayor, we will move forward collaboratively to make our corner of the world a better place, with a secure economy and a healthy, growing population.
Would you support a tax freeze or rollback if it meant reduced staff or services?
No. I say no because this is a blanket question with no information. Any freeze or rollback must have careful, thorough investigation, and consultation with the community. The public would need plenty of opportunity to consider the impact before council decides.
Would you support an OPP costing study?
No. First of all you need to be unsatisfied with your current service provider. The new funding formula from the province has more questions than answers. I am in favour of getting those answers but not a full costing. Sarnia underwent the process in 2008 and the cost to change over was approximately $8 million to taxpayers. Most communities that have changed over are not satisfied with the new service delivery due to unexpected costs or reduction in service.
Would you support examining a volunteer-only fire service if the provincial arbitration system isn’t overhauled?
No. Are we prepared to have a volunteer-only police service, ambulance? If this is an exercise in digging our heels in as an act of protest, we need to include all groups that have access to the provincial arbitration system. We need to work with Association of Municipalities of Ontario collectively to lobby the province to make changes that are needed for all communities in Ontario.
Do you believe we should continue our ongoing efforts to attract economic investment from China?
Yes. We need to be competing on the world stage; however, we need to be seeing results before investing any more “get to know you and relationship building” trips. The mayor, in my opinion should leave this work to economic development.
Would you support contracting municipal services to the private sector if those services can be delivered more efficiently? Yes. This is considered and done often. Examples include ambulance service, garbage pickup, planning and recently with child care. It is also true to go the opposite way. We may be able to do things ourselves more efficiently – that needs to be considered as well.
Would you support investigating amalgamation of fire/ambulance/police services to reduce costs?
Yes. Again, this sounds good at first glance, but needs careful investigation.
Would you support a municipal tree-cutting bylaw if it contained incentives for woodlot owners to retain/increase tree cover?
Yes. I only support a tree-cutting bylaw as a temporary measure until we see if the new policy works.
Do you believe we need a municipal ombudsman or ethics commissioner such as London and Windsor have added? No. This would be an unnecessary expense and a duplication of services.
Would you consider developing a usage benchmark for municipal offices, arena and libraries and closing those that don’t meet the standards?
No. I can’t say yes without more information. The danger with benchmarks is that they do not take local history and preferences into consideration. Numbers don’t always tell the story.
Do you support development of a community-wide multipurpose recreation centre?
Yes. I always support recreational needs of our community. However –again, this is a blanket statement. What is a community–wide multipurpose recreation centre? How much will it cost and where will we get the money?
Do you support an adopt-a-park program in which service or volunteer groups assume some maintenance (grass cutting) of some municipal facilities? Yes. This already is happening in CK. The Chatham and Wallaceburg Dog Off Leash Recreation Areas (DOLRAs) and the BME Freedom Park are excellent examples of this. I will be encouraging more of these partnerships. It works!
Do you support investigating a reduction in the number of municipal councilors?
Yes. It`s worth exploring. Fewer councilors would result in faster decision making and shorter debates at the council table. But it could mean spreading the workload among fewer people, resulting in busier, full-time councilors – which would not save any money.
As the only mayoral candidate with experience as a ward councillor, I have always taken pride in making informed decisions with the best interest of Chatham-Kent as my priority. I encourage thoughtful engagement in decision-making. I recognize that I am not an expert in most issues so I need and value collaboration from citizens, council and subject matter experts.
In our ever-changing community, priorities change and evolve. Focusing on a few promises doesn’t seem logical. But, I can promise that no matter what issues are presented, I will use my leadership skills to make the best decisions for the people of Chatham-Kent.
I will work to make sure no stone is left unturned while looking for savings or efficiencies. I will be active for the citizens of CK, working with the provincial and federal governments to tap into every potential dollar that we can access. I have the determination and confidence to go face to face with the powers to be at higher levels of government to fight for what Chatham-Kent is entitled to have and needs. I can be diplomatic yet assertive while being clear that Chatham-Kent is my priority.
Top priorities as mayor:
Jobs – While I fully believe that we should be on the world stage, I also believe that we should not be investing mainly in one area. I would explore a plan to provide grants to develop businesses or help them diversify to create employment in Chatham-Kent, including small business and agribusiness. This will create local jobs by local people. Building employment from within and supporting existing businesses is an investment in Chatham-Kent and an investment in our people. Investing in job retention and investing in job strategies will retain and increase our tax base. With food security becoming an international priority, Chatham-Kent has the potential to be a world leader in agricultural-based research and innovation. This must be promoted and supported locally and internationally. Agriculture is jobs in Chatham-Kent.
Taxes – it is clear that citizens want to keep tax increases low. However, we need to properly fund our future needs. Looking at different ways to do business, constantly looking for efficiencies, clear direction from council and vigorous budget deliberations will keep a close eye on our bottom line while allowing proper investment in Chatham-Kent. I will work with our federal and provincial governments as well to ensure that our needs are recognized and supported.
Health and Wellbeing – Our community needs to improve our health indicators overall and I pledge to be active in promoting, participating, and supporting initiatives and being a community that leads in order to make our community healthier.
Chatham-Kent Communities – Explore a strategy to strengthen individual communities through associations and networking across Chatham-Kent. As a municipality we should be supportive of communities in their growth. As our communities become stronger individually, we as a municipality become stronger as well. We must respect each community’s uniqueness and encourage participation as a vital part of Chatham-Kent.