Incumbent Mayor David Nash believes his experience as mayor and a part of county council over the past four years has prepared him to lead the municipality into the next term of council. “My familiarity with current county issues and lower tier issues, combined with the network I have developed, would allow me to hit the ground running with a proactive approach,” he says.
He believes it is important to consider both Merrickville and Wolford ward priorities when making decisions for the municipality, as the two have completely different cultures. He believes that pre-budget meetings in both wards is very important and educating residents about the cross-subsidization in an amalgamated municipality is essential. “It all comes down to keeping residents informed,” he says.
David says should he be re-elected he will continue to address high taxes and water/sewer rates. Infrastructure maintenance, the creation of a senior’s hub, rural and urban economic development and the effect of legalization of marijuana on the municipality are also all on his list of priorities for the next term of council. “I’m taking a proactive and long-range approach,” he says.
David says it will be important for the municipality to update their asset management plan, chase grants wherever possible and have shovel-ready projects ready to go. As mayor he will continue looking for efficiencies in the budget and ways to increase revenue. He is committed to looking for balance between providing services to residents while also maintaining a realistic budget. “I have the proven ability to reduce taxes and improve communication and accountability,” he says. “I am proud of the fact that I put in place an infrastructure reserve and lowered taxes without lowering the level of service.”
David says it takes time to bring a big ship around and he would like a second term to finish what he started. “I am a good listener who realizes that being mayor is not about me – it’s about you,” he says.
With eight years of council experience under her belt, mayoral candidate Anne Barr hopes to serve Merrickville-Wolford by bringing fiscal responsibility, smart growth and the modernization of operations to the municipality.
Anne understands that Merrickville-Wolford has the challenge of having both a rural area and urban centre. However, she believes it is a misconception that there is a clear division between the two. “I see a common priority of tax rates, good value for taxes and the fair distribution of resources,” she says.
In the name of fiscal responsibility, Anne says she will ensure that council is involved in the creation of the budget from an early stage to ensure it is reflective of the priorities of residents. She will be focused on building the tax base and looking at efficiencies, while still maintaining the standard levels of service. When it comes to water rates, Anne hopes to continue to work towards a user-pay system, something the municipality is very close to achieving.
In terms of smart growth, Anne believes that attracting new development is vital; however, it must be balanced with the rural, agricultural and heritage characteristics of Merrickville-Wolford.
As Mayor, Anne says she would be committed to promoting effective operations by taking a look at all of the policies and procedures of the municipality.
Anne says she hopes to establish a committee of the whole system where staff, council, residents and other stakeholders can sit down and discuss topics that are relevant to the municipality. She believes that creating this bi-weekly meeting would go a long way in streamlining processes and promoting good communication between staff, council and the public.
Anne is hoping to represent the municipality in the next term of council as a collaborative mayor who makes sure that all voices around the table are heard and valued. As mayor she would ensure that information is shared effectively, and a consensus is reached to make good decisions for the community. “I have great communication skills and the ability to represent the community faithfully and straightforwardly,” she says.
Doug Struthers comes to the mayoral race with a rich history of experience in political life. As the Mayor of Merrickville-Wolford from 2000-2014, he has experience with a variety of different councils and has championed several causes at both the county and federal level.
Should he be chosen as Mayor, Doug says he would bring strong leadership and decision-making to the council table. His first order of business would be to get a clear picture of the municipality’s finances. Although he recognizes the need for expanding the tax base, Doug says this is just one part of fiscal responsibility. “This is a clear opportunity to look at our expenses,” he says. “It is important to look at which services and operations are in the need to do, and which are in the nice to do,” he says. “Sometimes it is appropriate to say no.”
Doug says that as mayor he would be committed to improving communication between council, staff and the public. He believes that having clear policies and procedures in place and a strong procedural bylaw will help take the guesswork out of municipal governance and in presenting clear and concise information to the public.
Doug says he believes strongly in the value of the Merrickville-Wolford community, which he has called home for the past 30 years. “I want to inspire people to be community developers,” he says. “It is a great community for anyone from seniors to young families.” Doug promises to devote more time to both urban and rural residents’ issues and ensure they are seeing a good return for their tax dollar.
Doug believes his financial acumen, abilities as a relationship builder, emotional maturity, ability to be a team player, and critical thinking are all qualities that would make him an excellent choice for the next mayor of Merrickville-Wolford. “We need good governance. We need good leadership. You deserve both and I can deliver,” he says.
Chuck MacInnis believes he has the experience, expertise and integrity to be the next mayor of Merrickville-Wolford. Over the past four years he has been a part of Merrickville council and has sat on ten committees of council. “This has given me a broad overview and understanding of the many aspects of Council responsibility,” he says.
As mayor he says he would make himself visible and available to all residents. “Not only do we have to do a good job, we have to be seen to do a good job,” he says. “Treating people with respect and responding to their concerns is key.” He believes that ensuring that councillors, staff and the public are aware of their roles in municipal life will go a long way to improving communication between all levels.
Chuck believes that the next council needs to be vigilant about finances, infrastructure and staffing.
In terms of finances, Chuck promises to develop a municipality-wide economic plan, create more serviced lots and set up an ad-hoc committee to look at their current business model for water/sewer billing. He also sees encouraging fiber-optic in the Village as essential to attracting new residents and business to the area.
Chuck acknowledges the urgent need for the municipality to address decaying infrastructure. He believes using staff and/or volunteers to research potential grants and have shovel-ready projects with a sound business case will be essential in funding the much-needed infrastructure upgrades in the municipality.
According to Chuck, human capital is the municipality’s greatest concern. With the high staff turnover of the past four years, he believes this new term will be a great opportunity to look at the Village’s organizational chart to make sure they have the right staff in the right places to better serve the municipality.
If elected Chuck promises to be a visible and approachable face of the municipality. “My role outside running the council meeting is to be the representative of the municipality,” Chuck says. “I will answer any question you as a resident might have.”