The Times is committed to fair and equal opportunities for all candidates, and in this issue we have published the final selection of articles by candidates for both Mayor and Councillor positions. To ensure fairness, we had Mary-Anne Leang, of the law firm of Jansen Law, to arrange the order in which the articles would appear and to vet the contents.
In the interests of fair play, we have not edited this in any way.
Questions for Candidates for Councillor:
What are your top three priorities for the coming four years of Council? How do they differ from the last four years?
Control spending to prevent tax increases or depletion of our reserve fund. It is a tough economic climate, the municipality needs to be very careful not to overstep our capabilities. Using taxpayer funds to hire consultants is waste. Council should consult the public themselves.
Work to attract more doctors, nurses, and PSW’s to our area. Current council is considering offering financial incentives to achieve this, I would work to expedite this and implement other initiatives before we are too late and everyone is doing the same.
Work to bring our community together. We could benefit from co-working spaces, business start-up community, and spaces for our volunteer groups to meet, share resources, and strategize projects that will improve our social development and economic development in North Grenville. Our current council is dividing our community by welcoming religion into political decisions.
What do you bring to Council that hasn’t been there previously?
I bring a wide arrange of unique perspectives to council that are not currently represented. I am a millennial, who understands the significant challenges that younger generations are facing. I have lived through decades of chronic illness, along with my late wife, Rachel. This experience helps me understand the issues facing people who rely on our healthcare system to be able to function. Also, I understand the challenges facing people living with disabilities, whether visible or unseen. I am also a successful business person. I have worked in the financial services industry, specifically risk management, for over 15 years. I understand deeply how to create economic value and I am a highly skilled professional negotiator.
Most importantly, living through severe illness, and losing my wife has given me a very strong sense of moral character. I do the right thing, always, even when it is the most difficult. My entire life has been lived in the public eye. I am an open book, approachable, relatable, and a hardworking, competent person.
Social media has become toxic locally, especially over the past year. Do you think Council has a role in creating a more civil atmosphere generally? If so, how would you go about it?
I do not think social media has become toxic locally. I think our community group pages are some of the nicest and respectful group pages that exist on the internet. It can be difficult to effectively communicate and debate ideas online, but I think if you are direct, truthful, and careful with your language, social media can be an effective place to engage in community dialogue. As a councillor, I would continue to engage respectfully with the community, and encourage others to be respectful and careful in choosing their words.
Do you think more can be done to involve the community in the affairs of Council and being part of the decision-making process?
I think council could host community engagement sessions, instead of hiring consultants from outside of our community, when there are important issues to discuss. Maybe even consider hosting online sessions in conjunction to assist our residents with accessibility issues. These sessions should include real, back and forth, engagement with council.
Actually listening to the community and implementing their ideas would encourage more people to get involved.
How do you think the future development in North Grenville – infrastructure, economic, environmental – should be directed? What new initiatives need to be undertaken in those areas?
Economic development needs to expand beyond hosting events. Events are great from a social and cultural perspective, and they should continue for these reasons, but North Grenville has had difficulty translating the events into economic benefit to our local businesses. Some additional economic development steps I would focus on are:
1) Creating a co-working/start-up community where local entrepreneurs can access resources and professional advice to help them start new businesses in North Grenville.
2) Proactively attend chamber of commerce events, business networking events and trade shows in surrounding communities to try and attract businesses to move to North Grenville.
3) Ensure any future initiatives, such as; The NG Green card or NG Bucks are not complete failures and waste of taxpayer resources.
Infrastructure and the environment go hand in hand. I would focus our roads and pathways to be bike and pedestrian friendly. I would work to ensure any new or replacement infrastructure is engineered to withstand the new normal when it comes to wind speeds and ice loads. I would work with our environmental committee members to find an appropriate balance of environmental protections and costs associated with them. This would be done with long term finances as the main factor in decision making. I will govern with a sustainable long term budget in mind.