Questions for Candidates for Mayor:
How do you see the role of Mayor in relation to: a. Council colleagues, b. the wider community, c. the United Counties, and d. the Provincial government?
I believe that my primary role as Mayor is to be accountable to the community I serve – including residents and local business owners. Consequently, I must foster strong relationships with Council colleagues and municipal staff where we respect each other and our shared efforts to make improvements and strategic investments in the community.
While Council can disagree, ultimately we need to establish some common ground, or we risk spinning our wheels or turning on each other. This is not productive for anyone. If re-elected, renewing our Council Workplan and ensuring Council receives appropriate training and support is my first priority so we can serve the community well, and with fairness and respect.
At Counties Council, my job is to effectively represent North Grenville’s priorities while having the best interests of the United Counties at heart, given competing priorities and limited resources. On matters including road safety, the CR 43 expansion, housing, victim’s services and supporting our paramedics, I have brought a strong voice, and offered effective leadership for the Counties as a whole.
Provincially, my goal has also been to capitalize on priorities for rural broadband, parks and recreation, municipal modernization, the pandemic response as well as the expansion CR 43. Obviously, the unexpected news of the provincial correctional facility has presented some challenges. However, we have kept an open dialogue, and have secured the province’s financial commitment to assume all costs for their water and sewer needs, and are vigorously advocating for surplus farm-side lands (up to 100 acres) – and no impact to the Municipality’s policing budget.
Ultimately, I am proud of our ability to work with the province and Counties during difficult times. This helped us achieve the highest vaccination rates in Ontario, get the CR 43 expansion underway, and some unprecedented investments in affordable housing.
How would you go about establishing a more inclusive community of tolerance for all, regardless of differences of belief, identity, or opinion?
North Grenville is changing, and it is imperative that businesses and residents are treated equally and with respect. The Municipality is in the process of developing training and education for staff, municipal partners and community groups, and formulating funding guidelines. If re-elected, Council will receive comprehensive training on diversity, training and equity. Ultimately, the Municipality must uphold the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Code of Ontario, and not infringe on the rights of some in a manner that gives an advantage to others.
The role of Mayor is increasingly time- and energy-demanding as the population grows and the issues at play become more complex. How would you, as Mayor, deal with the situation and would you be able to “download” responsibilities to Council?
Generally, I do not support the downloading of Mayoral responsibilities. I have often said I am a 24/7 Mayor, which means being highly accessible and responding to developments in real-time. However, Council colleagues can provide significant leadership. I appointed Jim McManaman Deputy Mayor as a very seasoned community and business leader to shape some important conversations. Through the ten advisory committees that Council established, plus one for youth , Council colleagues have taken the lead on policy proposals, new initiatives -and regularly liaise with various departments.
How do you see the working relationship and balance of powers between Council and Municipal Staff?
This Council has built some excellent relationships with senior staff. Ultimately, staff are held accountable through the Chief Administrative Officer. Only the CAO is hired and supervised by Mayor and Council. When the relationship between the Mayor, a cohesive Council and the CAO is working well, there will be strong alignment and the ability to deliver well on community priorities. This has been my number one objective so the Municipality can advance our community’s priorities.
The renewal of North Grenville’s Community strategic plan in 2021 was undertaken to provide clear and strong direction to staff on where the municipality must improve levels of service, invest strategically in roads and sidewalks, traffic calming, fire protection, policing, parks and recreation, water and sewer, and our business community in order to manage growth in a sustainable and fiscally responsible way, while also improving quality of life. Keeping property taxes low and having more housing and rental units that accommodates all stages of life is crucial.