Randy Hope says he’s not done.
As a result, he’s seeking a fourth term as mayor of Chatham-Kent.
“I believe we’re on the right track. We’ve got our house in order,” he said. “When I took office, there was a huge debt level and high unemployment; communities didn’t feel part of the municipality.”
Since that time, Hope said the debt has dropped to $64 million from $186 million and unemployment has dropped to about six per cent from a high of 15 per cent.
“We are seeing growth in our economy here. We’re seeing some things we can be proud of,” he said.
Hope added there are technically no empty factories in the municipality, and companies are holding job fairs seeking to fill vacancies.
He said he has a strong agenda planned for the next four years.
“It will deal with continuing on the path, looking at our official plans, about a bypass around Wallaceburg, a new arena here (Chatham), and we’ll talk about a Charing Cross bypass, we’ll look at Tilbury and Ridgetown land-use planning to set ourselves up to attract new industry to these communities,” he said.
Hope said Chatham-Kent is again experiencing growth in advanced manufacturing, and agriculture.
“It’s about diversification in the community. I want to continue to lead the course we are on,” he said. “Everybody’s growing. It’s healthy to have a diversified community. It’s great to see small businesses starting up and becoming part of the economy.”
To continue growth, Hope said we must promote our assets.
“That’s quality of life – a 15-minute commute as opposed to hours. We’re 20 minutes from either lake,” he said. “The feeling of being at home. That’s what Chatham-Kent does.”
He reminds voters that the mayor’s position is but one of 18 seats on council, and his vote on issues doesn’t carry any more weight than any other councillor.
“I’m one vote. There are 17 others. We need to carry 50-plus-one,” he said. “And whatever council decides, I have to fulfill council’s mandate.”
Hope looks at his experience as 12 years as mayor as a bonus when dealing with senior levels of government, including the new Doug Ford administration at the provincial level.
“People know me. I’m not going to blow smoke. I’m going to speak on facts and how we can manage things together,” he said.
Hope said his campaign, and how people judge him, is much different than those of his opponents.
“Let’s face it, the election process started 12 years ago with me. It’s not a 30-day campaign. I’ll be evaluated for my time in office,’ he said. “For 12 years, I have a record. People know the name.”
Hope said people shouldn’t expect him to be showing up at their front doors asking for their vote anytime soon.
“People just got done with the provincial election. I think we’re all looking for that ‘I need a break moment’ summer vacation and spending time with their families,” he said. “I want to respect people’s time with their families during the summer.”