candidate

Pouget believes she has experience, track record to be deputy mayor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A third current town councillor is seeking the job of deputy mayor.

Diane Pouget filed her nomination papers July 27 and became the fourth and final candidate for the position. Pouget will be running against council colleagues Rick Fryer and Leo Meloche as well as Amherstburg Police Services Board chair Bob Rozankovic.

“I decided to run for deputy mayor believing I have the knowledge, experience and proven track record to properly represent our residents,” she said.

Pouget stated there are “strong, honest candidates” running for councillor positions so she felt comfortable with her decision to seek the deputy mayor position.

Progress has been made over the last four years, Pouget indicated, but more progress is still needed.

“Although our current council worked very diligently to pay down our debt, we still have a long way to go,” said Pouget.

The town’s finances remain an issue for Pouget.

“If elected, my first order of business would be to try and re-instate the finance committee in order to refocus on our needs instead of our wants,” she stated. “We must continue to pay down our debt, build our reserves, improve infrastructure, repair our crumbling roads and get control of our hiring.”

As the deputy mayor also sits on Essex County council, Pouget said repairing roads are among her objectives if she is elected to represent Amherstburg at that level also.

“My goals are very similar to what they are right now (in Amherstburg) – to improve roads and infrastructure and to work collectively with all municipalities,” she said.

Diane Pouget is running for the position of deputy mayor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

There are county roads that need work as well as town-owned roads, she believes.

Pouget said the number of people hired is an issue, as is where the people come from. She understands the town can’t be discriminatory, but hopes if there is hiring done that more people from the community get jobs.

“It is a very contentious issue,” she said. “Residents are very unhappy with hiring from outside our community.”

While a report she requested recently about town hiring and the cost factor of said hiring was refused by her council colleagues, she said the counterargument of savings through the new hires due to not contracting out services “has not been proven to council.” She said the finance committee helped council earlier in the term as it aided in whittling down a request for nine new employees to 3.5.

“I have been vocally opposed to the rebranding because of the cost and the fear of losing our historic identity,” she added.

Pouget stated she is “a strong advocate” of receiving public input from Amherstburg’s rural residents regarding their needs. She added that council must meet with developers before changing any agreements that have been in existence since 2007.

It is important for Amherstburg residents to vote in the Oct. 22 municipal election, she added, so that the most honest and strongest group of candidates can get elected to represent the town over the next four years.

Feedback to her candidacy for deputy mayor has already been strong, she reports, as she received numerous phone calls shortly after filing her nomination papers.

“I didn’t expect this much support,” she said.

The other three vying for the position are “very good candidates,” Pouget said, but believes her experience gives her the edge.

“I believe it’s because of my experience, knowledge and proven track record,” she said of what sets her apart. “I’ve always been there to represent (the residents). I’ve proven that over and over again.”

 

Keenan encourages public involvement, less divisiveness

 

By Ron Giofu

 

After fighting for fairer hydro costs and even meeting with then-Premier Kathleen Wynne, Libby Keenan is now looking to get into provincial politics.

Keenan is one of the 14 candidates for councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election. She gained prominence due to her online posts about hydro, with that eventually resulting in a meeting with Wynne. Keenan notes she is an administrator of a “Take Back Your Power” Facebook page.

“I think I ended up with substantial influence over the dismissal of Ms. Wynne,” she said.

Keenan said she was asked by some to seek an MPP position but said Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky are “pretty entrenched.” She found no reason to do it anyway. She said she gets along with Natyshak, though she was involved with PC candidate Chris Lewis’ campaign.

Keenan stated she likes that municipal politics is less partisan and more “grassroots.”

“I’m from Brampton but I love Amherstburg. This is home now and it has been for 30 years,” she said.

The issue of rebranding is one that Keenan hopes many people get involved with. She believes it is more than just image, but a matter of what people want the town to be. Citing Brampton as an example, it used to be a small municipality but now has “miles and miles of urban sprawl.” Keenan prefers Amherstburg to remain a mix of rural and urban.

“I think we have to decide what it is we want,” she said. “Yes, you want development but not at the cost of the natural environment around you.”

Libby Keenan is seeking a position as a town councillor in the Oct. 22
municipal election.

Amherstburg should be marketed better, Keenan believes, as the town is not known well enough across the province. She believes someone should be appointed or hired to better market the town and attend travel conventions, events and form stronger partnerships with other municipalities.

“It needs to be marketed,” said Keenan. “It’s here but it’s a bit of a secret, even now, after all this time.”

Belle Vue, Keenan stated, could be a “huge money pit” or a great benefit, depending on how it is used. She said a historic building in Brampton is popular for weddings, dances and similar events and she thinks Belle Vue could be too.

“It has to be very clearly defined what the goals are,” she said of Belle Vue. “There has to be very close oversight on the business plan for Belle Vue.”

The development of the Duffy’s site was another issue she addressed, and Keenan wonders if it will require a customs office to accommodate U.S. boaters.

Issues in the rural areas of Amherstburg need addressing, said Keenan, and not just the urban area. She is an advocate of putting a pool at the Libro Centre.

With the OCPC rendering its decision on the police issue, Keenan said “we have to give it a chance” though she also believes policing “could be the first domino.

“I’m not fear-mongering,” she said. “I’ve seen it happen.”

Keenan said, if elected, she would rely on the expertise of administration and wants to form a good relationship with them. She said they know what can be done and what can’t be done and that money and time could be saved by pursuing initiatives recommended by administration.

Keenan, a local horse farmer with a degree in social work from York University, said “there is so much to offer here” and that people should not be afraid to brainstorm ideas.

“It’s not a matter of mowing down the other point of view,” she said. “That’s no way to live.”

Sutherland trying to return to council, looking at a councillor position

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A former deputy mayor is attempting to return to town council, this time as a councillor.

Ron Sutherland, who served as Amherstburg’s deputy mayor from 2010-14, is trying to be an elected official once again. He said he made the decision to run for a councillor’s position as he, as well as residents he has spoken with, “are not pleased with the lack of transparency” with the current council.

“There are too many in-camera meetings with very little information being shared with the residents,” said Sutherland. “I truly believe that an elected official must be accountable.”

As for why he is seeking a position as a councillor in the Oct. 22 election, Sutherland said he believes he can have just as strong of a voice as a councillor as opposed to any other position.

“I believe I can be just as or more effective as a councillor at this juncture,” he said.

Sutherland opposed contracting out policing services from Amherstburg to Windsor.

“I spoke out against the contracting out of our police service to Windsor as there are too many unknowns,” said Sutherland. “For example, is it a 20-year contract with the possibility to get out of it and return to our local force after five years? At what cost? This has not been discussed publicly. What about the officers who apply to Windsor police? Will they be able to return and, again, at what cost?”

Sutherland also wonders if the “so-called savings of over $500,000” will cover the cost of retirement benefits for those officers who qualify.

Meeting attendance is something that needs to be addressed, he believes.

“Absenteeism is atrocious and out of control, not only on council but also some of those councillors who are on sub-committees that never attend these meetings to the point that some have had to be joined with others,” he said.

Sutherland added there are ongoing expenditures that could possibly increase the town’s debt. According to Sutherland, he has seen figures where new salaries over the last four years have averaged over $1 million per year.

“I realize there could be some savings by not farming things out but that still has to be addressed,” he said.

Ron Sutherland is seeking a position as a town councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

Sutherland said he contacted the province four years ago asking for an audit of the town’s finances but a review was done instead. That eventually lead to the recommendations contained in the Deloitte report.

Sutherland said he is concerned about the efforts to rebrand the town.

“I don’t have a solution but I do question it,” he said. “We’re supposed to be a historic town. I don’t see the point of rebranding.”

Sutherland also voiced concern about the loss of ball diamonds at Centennial Park and whether the name of Murray Smith will be carried on, as for whom the park is named. He favors the town keeping the 12 acres of Centennial Park that wasn’t sold to the Greater Essex County District School Board.

“I’m very concerned they are going to sell that off as well,” he said.

Sutherland added he supports the Belle Vue purchase “but it has to stay as a fundraising initiative.” He opposes any money for restoration coming from the tax base.

The issue of a boat ramp at Duffy’s is one that “I truly believe there is a solution to” without causing parking problems.

“More to come on this issue,” he said.

Sutherland noted he is chair of the Amherstburg Drainage Board, an ERCA board member, a member of the board for the Community Housing Corporation, a former member/chair of the Amherstburg Police Services Board and former president of the Ontario Association of Police Services Board. He also said he was “instrumental in keeping Amherstburg’s shares in Essex Power.”

Rozankovic updates position on policing issue

 

Deputy Mayor candidate Bob Rozankovic has updated his position on the issue of the police switchover from Amherstburg police to Windsor police.

Rozankovic, who currently chairs the Amherstburg Police Services Board, noted he was limited in what he could say when profiled in May, but now that the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) has rendered its ruling, he has issued the following statement:

“With the OCPC ruling now having ben publicized I can answer the question on the much-debated policing issue with somewhat more detail.

My original answer was “as a member of the APSB I am limited in what I can say at this time. Ultimately it is the decision of council as to the direction the town takes. Certainly, there are both pros and cons and I have the ultimate respect for all councilors that voted on this difficult issue, no matter their individual preference.” Also “as a member of JPAC, I can say we attempted to address all concerns put forth by all stakeholders including residents, police officers, and administration. All facts were clearly presented without bias for council’s decision-making process.”

Whether to contract out policing or not is a generational issue and not simply an exercise in “what is cheaper”. The public meetings that were held fully showed the depth of emotional involvement by this community with its police service. Though, by far, most speakers at the meetings preferred to maintain police service in its current form, I know there were many who preferred the switch to Windsor. Whether the majority wished to switch, or not, no one can say with certainty. And therein lies the dilemma. As I stated previously, this is a generational issue. A “one-shot” deal to get the decision right because there will not be a chance to reverse the decision at a later date. Let’s be clear, the Amherstburg Police Service will never be reconstituted. At the end of the first five-year term Amherstburg will pay Windsor whatever they ask or Amherstburg will need to contract the OPP for service.

Though I am not a proponent of referendums in most cases, I believe a this is one of those rare times. If we had submitted a request to the province by March 1st, we could have had this issue on our ballots for the October 22nd election. This would have pushed the contract start date to July 2019. A very small delay to ensure a correct decision.

There are current councilors who feel that referendums are not worthwhile, that the general public isn’t knowledgeable enough to make these decisions. I beg to differ. The general public will be knowledgeable and will be intelligently engaged if they are provided with valid information. That is particularly true for an issue such as this one. Furthermore, there are times when emotional connection is more important than saving money.

I don’t profess to know whether the majority wanted a switch or not. I do know that in door to door campaigning I am getting many different opinions.

The fact that a three to two vote, with two abstensions, decided this important issue is so sad. How could a referendum have been any worse? At the very least, council would have known the will of the people.”

Renaud wants to be part of a more accountable and responsible town council

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Marc Renaud is a regular attendee of Amherstburg town council meetings and now wants to do so as a councillor.

Renaud said he believes in serving his community and that it is a privilege to serve the taxpayers and all of the residents. He said he has attended 95 per cent of the council meetings over the last four years and wants to apply what he has seen and heard for the next four years as a councillor.

“I’ve dedicated myself to understanding municipal politics and community issues,” said Renaud. “Based on my experience, I believe council can serve the needs of the community better. If elected, I plan on bringing a more responsible and accountable council to the taxpayers of Amherstburg.”

Renaud said he plans on meeting a lot of residents this summer, listening to their concerns and learning their vision for the future of Amherstburg. His own vision includes attracting more tourism, including sports tourism, dedicating more funds for road repairs, to try and attract more industrial development and attempt to bring in different types of businesses.

“Tourism, festivals and community events are an important part of Amherstburg’s future,” he said. “They bring new visitors to Amherstburg, support local business and encourage development and growth.”

The town’s purchase of the Duffy’s property was “important,” Renaud added.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire waterfront property,” he stated. “It will continue to make the King’s Navy Yard Park a jewel on the waterfront.”

Renaud pledged to consult the community before committing to any plans for the Duffy’s redevelopment.

Among Renaud’s areas of concern is the town’s purchase of the former St. Bernard School.

“It appears it was purchased without a detailed business plan and determining the feasibility of operating a senior centre,” he said.

Marc Renaud is running for the
position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

Renaud questions whether the decision to purchase it was sound.

“How are they going to pay for it?” he asked. “If we are spending taxpayers’ money, we need to be accountable, up front and transparent with what the decisions are.”

Another decision of the current council he voiced concern with was the $100,000 donation the town made to Essex Region Conservation Foundation for the Cypher Systems Greenway. Renaud stated that was “not properly communicated to the taxpayers.”

As for his thoughts on the policing issue, Renaud said the “roughly $600,000 savings is a lot of money” but acknowledged that a lot of people are opposed to the switch. He said while the decision has been made, he hopes to hear from residents about their thoughts on the matter.

Renaud noted he is a lifelong Amherstburg resident and community volunteer and is “informed and engaged” on community issues. He believes in working as a team and believes he has the experience to do that.

“I have the energy to ask the tough questions,” he said.

Renaud’s background includes serving the last ten years as the president of the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association and he said he is an advocate for youth sports in the town. He also serves on the Amherstburg property standards committee.

Renaud works at Ford Motor Company as the Unifor site training co-ordinator and has served the last ten years as the vice president of Unifor Local 200, representing 4,800 active and retired workers at Ford, Nemak, Diageo, Leadec and Penske.

“I have participated in negotiating their collective agreements for each, working as part of the team to bring them to successful conclusions,” said Renaud.