Candidate - Mayor
The Echo sent the following questions to all candidates running for a seat at the council table in Dysart et al.
1. Provide an introduction to yourself. (This could be about how you came to the area, your hobbies and interests, family life, education, accomplishments.)
2. What is the most important issue facing Dysart et al today? As a council member, how would you address that issue?
3. Are there services or facilities you would like to see in Dysart et al that don’t already exist? If elected, how would you go about making them a reality?
4. Explain how climate change is impacting Dysart et al, and what council can do to help mitigate its effects.
5. The chamber of commerce and local businesses have raised concerns that there are not enough young adults and young families choosing to live in the Highlands. This has led to shortages in some fields (skilled trades, for example) and fewer children and youth in the community. What can council do to attract and retain young people?
The ballots will be going out in the mail this week. Election day is Oct. 22. For more information on voting, contact the municipal office.
Next week, we will feature the Q&A from Highlands East candidates.
1. I was born and completed high school here. Except for my early years working in the Office at General Motors I have lived here. During that time I have married, raised a family and owned business interests in Dysart. As a result I can relate to the youth of the community, what it’s like to leave the area and return, and the issues facing businesses and seniors. For the past 24 years I have had the privilege of serving the municipality as councillor, reeve, warden and recently mayor. My collective accomplishments to date include hospitals, a medical facility, library, social housing, condo units, and Fleming College. More recently improving cell and internet connectivity and housing and recreation, All of this said we need much more moving forward. All this time, I think we have shown strong leadership controlling taxes and being respectful of the needs of citizens.
2. There are numerous issues facing our community, in fact facing all levels of government, whether it be cell/internet connectivity, infrastructure needs such as buildings services, roads, our growing and aging population, and course the evolving needs of businesses, families and youth. For every person that tells me they want to see taxes raised to fund improvements in the municipality, I have numerous others thanking me for controlling taxes and trying to make services better and more accessible to them. I therefore think the overriding issue facing us is the continued need for responsible, responsive and balanced government, doing the right things at the lowest possible cost. As the readers consider their vote in the upcoming election, I urge them to look to someone with the appropriate leadership skills, and a proven track record that suggests that they can properly manage and leverage change opportunities, establish and maintain required partnerships, and make the balanced decisions required.
3. A project I have been concentrating on will be announced: a senior resident housing facility that is so badly needed. Our main industry is the construction industry, and we need to do more to get our young people traine d to keep them here in an industry you can make a living at and grow. Although we have made some progress on the recreation front, there needs to be a longer term vision: a broader Recreation Complex that would benefit all ages and could potentially be funded as a result of a public-private partnership. Such a development would in my view be completed in stages and include initially a regulation soccer field, ball diamonds, lawn bowling, hiking trails, etc., with appropriate out buildings and a vision of sometime in the future a pool and daycare facility. I have already got commitments for a sizeable amount of private sector funding, I know after talking with young families, this is where our community has to be to have a balanced population and economy.
4. The issue of climate change, we look for federal and provincial guidance, however that being said in our own little corner of the world we must remain vigilant to what phenomena are impacting our lives in this regard. We have always tried to be environmentally responsible with our water, lakes, forests, and wildlife and will continue to be more focused on these natural necessities of life. It necessitates that we work closely with the tourism industry and others to understand the pressures facing them and any measures we might implement to mitigate them. Extreme storms are adversely affecting bridge, culvert and road maintenance requiring increased thought and attention and financing. Municipal leaders will have to be better informed when it comes to safeguarding wildlife, and protecting our area from invasive species, whether in the water, sides of the road, or the forests. More focus, time and education will be required on this issue by your mayor and I am committed to spend the time.
5. Our task in this area is twofold I believe. We firstly need to provide our youth (and young families) with a wholesome, safe and fulfilling childhood and young adult life here in the Highlands as they prepare for whatever future they may choose. Secondly for those who decide to stay in the area, we need a closer relationship with schools, trades people, to enter the construction, health care, or other opportunity for meaningful and well paid employment. I believe now is the time to look at a recreation complex to further address the more specific recreational needs of youth, young families, and, in fact our general population. I’m also starting to hear that sufficient daycare facilities are lacking and going forward this needs to be addressed as we attract more young families. Perhaps we can move forward a mentorship program to link youth and young adults. I pledge to work with others in the community, as we explore every possible option to attract and retain young people that are such an important part of our future.