candidate

Federal Conservative candidate holds meet and greet with local supporters

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The federal Conservative candidate is a familiar face for those who followed the provincial election earlier this year but he took the opportunity to meet some of his supporters again recently.

Chris Lewis, who finished 2,711 votes behind NDP incumbent Taras Natyshak in June’s provincial election, has now secured the federal nomination in the Essex riding and will challenge another NDP incumbent – Tracey Ramsey – in next year’s national election. Lewis held a meet and greet at Sanson Estate Winery in McGregor where he met with supporters and sought donations for the upcoming election campaign.

“It’s going fantastic, full of energy,” Lewis said of his campaign thus far. “There are so many people saying now is the time for change.”

Essex Conservative candidate Chris Lewis met with local supporters recently at Sanson Estate Winery in McGregor.

Lewis said it is now “all about jobs,” particularly since General Motors will be pulling 2,500 jobs out of Oshawa. He stated diversification has to be looked at and Canada has to “open the market for new business.”

“Getting rid of the carbon tax is important to us,” he said.

Working together and building bridges is key to moving forward in the future, Lewis added.

Believing that the Conservatives are “worth another look,” Lewis said that local members of the party call former Essex MP Jeff Watson the “$2 billion dollar man” for investments he brought to this area.

“Unless you have a voice in government, you won’t really have a say,” he said, optimistic about Andrew Scheer’s chances of forming a government after the 2019 federal election.

The name recognition Lewis gained during the provincial campaign is something he believes gives him a head start in his federal campaign. He plans on knocking on as many doors as possible to promote Scheer’s vision, which is to put Canada “back on the map” globally.

Lewis added that while he wants to engage seniors and today’s adults, he also wants to engage youth.

“I’m doing this for our future,” he said.

Telling supporters he is “so proud of our team,” Lewis added “I wouldn’t want to be the NDP, I wouldn’t want to be Tracey,” though added he doesn’t plan to run a smear campaign.

“It’s not the way God made us,” he explained.

Calling Scheer “a very fantastic man” and a “dynamite leader,” Lewis said he was proud to carry the banner for him in Essex.

“We can win this,” he told his supporters. “We can make Essex blue again. We can make the Watson family proud again.”

 

CANDIDATE Q&A – Aldo DiCarlo

 

The town is going through a re-branding process. How would you define what Amherstburg is and how it should be promoted?

Currently, Amherstburg is a quaint town with over two centuries of history. It is one of the safest places to live in Canada, and one of the most southern places to live in Canada, making it an ideal place to reside and visit. The town is host to many festivals and events. A new high school will begin construction very soon. We are the first town in all of Canada to have a Miracle League baseball facility. We also have a sledge hockey rink and a number of other accessible recreation facilities, making us a truly inclusive community. Our greenway trails connect to the rest of the region to expand our active transportation network. Our waterfront parks provide a stunning view of the Detroit River and Lake Erie. We boast of multiple National Historic Sites for a small town. We are building a community hub that will centralize services and activities for everyone, from youth to seniors.

Aldo DiCarlo is running for mayor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

 

Taxes and spending will always be election issues. What is the best way to spend money on roads and infrastructure while, at the same time, keeping taxes at a reasonable level?

The best way to address infrastructure costs is through a long term planned approach that maintains, repairs and replaces it all based on a pay-as-you-go model, and building adequate capital reserves. This is an issue across the province.

Specific to the Town of Amherstburg, we have decades of neglect to catch up on, current issues to address, and all while trying to build reserves for the future. In the short term, this can be offset through vigilant oversight of operations, cost containment and savings, where possible.

Simply cutting for the sake of short term savings, or creating zero tax increases today, will only defer the costs to future generations while reducing levels of service today. While we apply for available government grants, we shouldn’t rely on them, as was done in the past. This term, we’ve paid for roads almost entirely with cash. Although levies and tax increases are not wanted, they are needed in order to build for the future. A balanced approach of investing, saving and spending for the long term will keep the Town moving forward in a positive direction.

 

 

 

 

“Transparency” and “accountability” are words often heard during election campaigns. What specific measures would you undertake to ensure town council lives up to those words?

Accountability and transparency go hand in hand, in my opinion. Some only see accountability in being re-elected, but accountability is being open and accessible to the residents who have elected you for the entire term. Being accountable means answering concerns from residents, especially as it relates to decisions of council. Since no decision of council will ever be right to everyone, accountability means having to justify the reasons for the decisions. I believe I have already acted in this regard over this term of council. I plan to remain accessible to the residents in order to justify my actions as the head of council, should I get re-elected.

Transparency is acting with no hidden agendas and making decisions based on available information. Sometimes the information available to the council members cannot be legally shared with residents, but there should always be consideration to provide as much information to the public as legally possible. I believe I have acted in good faith during this entire term of council and plan to continue sharing as much information as legally possible while making decisions and leading with no hidden agendas.

 

 

 

How would you encourage economic development for the Town of Amherstburg over the next four years (and beyond)?

Economic development is arguably one of the more important areas that bring new investments into the town, and maintain the investments made long ago.

Although I wasn’t opposed to an economic development advisory committee, I have witnessed that a part time advisory committee just cannot replace a full-time development officer. Most municipalities have full-time economic development officers and are moving past us in attracting new investments. In many cases they have no more to offer than we do as a municipality. Therefore, I believe members of council should make the tough decision of reinstating this position, and/or the committee. As a member of council, I believe the mayor’s role goes further. As mayor, outside of council, I have been involved in many meetings related to economic development and attracting new businesses. I have witnessed first-hand the need for support in this area, as the CAO has other responsibilities as well.

The atmosphere in the town is much more positive than it was four years ago, so now is a good time to capitalize on attracting new investments.

 

 

 

The policing issue is still top-of-mind for some of the electorate. Is providing services on a regional level a good way to save money, a detriment to the town and its identity or would you view it on a case-by-case basis?

I respect those opinions and share their concerns that a switch to contracting police services not affect the level of service we’ve enjoyed for the last couple decades since amalgamation, which was the last time the service was dissolved to be rebuilt. The town already shares services on a regional level for almost every service we deliver. Past councils made decisions to share services, from waste collection to EMS and everything in between, for the betterment of all communities. They have proven to provide an equivalent service for less tax money. Whether or not there is any detriment to shared policing services remains to be seen, thus the extensive amount of time and review to create a contract that would protect the Town should the need to revert back come up.

I don’t believe that the town’s identity is based solely on the police service. I believe a town’s identity is formulated through its history and its residents, among other things, not solely the delivery of its services. Outside of that, it would have to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

 

 

CANDIDATE Q&A – Glenn Swinton

 

The town is going through a re-branding process. How would you define what Amherstburg is and how it should be promoted?

In my opinion, the Town of Amherstburg lacks a definition. The current efforts to re-brand at a tune of some $75,000 are premature. Before we can attach a “brand” to anything, we need to have a product to attach it to. Our town is rich in heritage and term after term, our councils have focused on tourism as our core. This is 2018 and yes, we have heritage, but today’s generation, the generation that is traveling and investing wants something more. They want something they can be involved in, not simply look at. Our town needs something unique that people can either do or participate in, that can’t be done in the surrounding areas.

 

Glenn Swinton is running for mayor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

 

 

Taxes and spending will always be election issues. What is the best way to spend money on roads and infrastructure while, at the same time, keeping taxes at a reasonable level?

Every resident in the Town of Amherstburg surely feels the pain of inflated property taxes. The truth is, taxes are how we finance the operations of the town. If we focus on trying to stay ahead of the maintenance on our infrastructure, rather than avoiding some areas only to attempt playing catch-up later, we may find that the costs are controllable. When our roads are allowed to break down to the point of no return, the cost to rebuild becomes far greater than the simple maintenance that may have prolonged their lifespan. Ideally, if we are to keep taxes at a reasonable level, we need more taxpayers to share the costs. This can only be achieved by encouraging developments (both residential and commercial) and welcoming new commercial enterprises with incentives to come, while providing support that will make them want to stay.

 

 

“Transparency” and “accountability” are words often heard during election campaigns. What specific measures would you undertake to ensure town council lives up to those words?

Election after election we have heard from candidates that claim “transparency”, and it seems term after term we are faced with inappropriate, “in camera” meetings and discussions that have taken place behind closed doors. There are definite issues that are legally required to be held in camera, “legally required” being the key. I believe that if a taxpayer takes the time from their busy lives to be a part of the process, they deserve full disclosure where possible. Upon my election, in camera meetings will only be held where absolutely required under the law.

As for accountability, the process is flawed. Our elected officials are not held to accountability. It seems the process is long and drawn out and the repercussions of their actions or inactions, can only be administered at the next election. Accountability at a municipal level must come from the candidate themselves. Until we start to select our candidates based on integrity, personal accomplishments and political platforms over name recognition, we will never see accountability. Maintaining an open and honest public forum in itself would promote accountability.

 

 

 

 

How would you encourage economic development for the Town of Amherstburg over the next four years (and beyond)?

The economic growth and development of the town is of the utmost importance. This is not a task that can simply be placed on various departments within administration. In doing so, these departments will require some guidance from a single source that is focused on the primary goal. I would consider the appointment of and economical development officer to ensure that we not simply chasing our tail. This Officer could best utilize the assets of administration by providing them with the necessary direction to ensure success.

 

 

 

 

 

The policing issue is still top-of-mind for some of the electorate. Is providing services on a regional level a good way to save money, a detriment to the town and its identity or would you view it on a case-by-case basis?

I don’t believe the organization that patrols our streets makes up the identity of the town, but they certainly add to it. Regional policing has in some areas proven to provide for some additional benefits to municipalities that otherwise might not have access to some services. There can be some cost saving benefits to regionalization but at what expense? The initial transformation could potentially cost a small town millions in severances, hundreds of thousands in lost asset values and thousands in legal bills to hash it all out. Because of these considerations, each example must be considered on a case-by-case basis. A small town like St. Mary’s with only a few patrol officers would not see the same expenses to abolish, as a force the size of Amherstburg’s. They could, and most likely would, see a greater potential savings then we could, since in our case there is a real potential that our projected savings over the first five-year term could be lost in the initial transformation.

 

 

 

CANDIDATE Q&A – Rick Fryer

 

The town is going through a re-branding process. How would you define what Amherstburg is and how it should be promoted?

Amherstburg the place where the only thing we overlook is the water!

 Having one of the longest coast lines in Essex County allows for Amherstburg to show off our beautiful landscape and quaint shops and restaurants. Amherstburg has that beautiful small town community with the likeable charm. We are at a cross road now with many great festivals and events our next steps will be to welcome new commercial and industry businesses to offset the higher taxes our ratepayers have experienced. The mandate for the next council should be to brand ourselves that Amherstburg is open to business and not to put up road blocks. We need to streamline how commercial and residential processes are handle to ensure fast timelines for business to operate. Amherstburg in the future should be a livable community where you can live and play where you work.

 

Rick Fryer is running for the position of deputy mayor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

 

Taxes and spending will always be election issues. What is the best way to spend money on roads and infrastructure while, at the same time, keeping taxes at a reasonable level?

Infrastructure to all of Amherstburg is vital to ensuring our residence are the ones that come first. Good roads, bridges, walkways and bicycle paths are a must for everyone to enjoy. I have always maintained the objective that those items above that affect our everyday lives need to come first and other projects should be a distant second.  I have and always will commit to infrastructure first.

 

 

“Transparency” and “accountability” are words often heard during election campaigns. What specific measures would you undertake to ensure town council lives up to those words?

Being accessible to the taxpayer is good governance. Anyone that has concerns knows that I am easy to talk to, easy to contact, and have always returned calls in a polite manner. I brought up the accessibility to council during the last election and will continue to ensure anyone that has a concern that needs to be address will have the ability to speak to council. I will always advocate for all the residence of Amherstburg no matter what the issues are and how tough the decision making is I always represent the ratepayers concerns first.

 

 

 

How would you encourage economic development for the Town of Amherstburg over the next four years (and beyond)?

Fiscal responsibility must be continued over the next four years. As your elected representative I have always kept the cost to the ratepayer in mind first as to how much is spent and where it is spent. We must start to diversify our resources to ensure you the current ratepayer aren’t always taxed continuously year after year. The incoming council should be actively pursuing new opportunities for commercial, industrial and new cutting edge businesses in tech jobs to help support our local residents. We have some of the greatest workers in the entire country right here in Amherstburg we just need the proper resources to attract new companies with economic development.

 

 

 

The policing issue is still top-of-mind for some of the electorate. Is providing services on a regional level a good way to save money, a detriment to the town and its identity or would you view it on a case-by-case basis?

Policing and regional services are to entirely different issues. Our Amherstburg Police officers will be managed by Windsor Police after January 1, 2019. None of our current officers will be working in Windsor unless the current officer in Amherstburg would like to bid on a job in Windsor to further their policing career. During the contracting process we were able to find savings to help offset our current debt load and for fiduciary reasons alone as a representative for Amherstburg it is only good governance to apply the savings to debt. We have already have a regional ambulance service and many other shared services that if we as council can find saving without losing our identity, as an elected representative, I have a fiduciary responsibility to you the taxpayer.

 

 

 

 

CANDIDATE Q&A – Leo Meloche

 

The town is going through a re-branding process. How would you define what Amherstburg is and how it should be promoted?

Branding should reflect what we are while telling a story of an exciting experience should you visit Amherstburg.

Leo Meloche is running for deputy mayor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

 

Taxes and spending will always be election issues. What is the best way to spend money on roads and infrastructure while, at the same time, keeping taxes at a reasonable level?

Plan, Plan, Plan. For far too long there has been no plan on how to address the growing burden of our roads, no asset management plan to speak of. It seemed to be the squeaky wheel or crisis management approach.

A plan looks into the future identify needs and financial requirements that can be spread over a specified time frame to even out the impact of taxes. It is a plan that secures the investment we have in our infrastructure.

 

 

“Transparency” and “accountability” are words often heard during election campaigns. What specific measures would you undertake to ensure town council lives up to those words?

It’s about communication, letting the people know what is being done and why. Transparency is more about full disclosure, ensuring residents understand why decisions are made. Accountability is about making sure that the monies spent to carry out decisions are used effectively and efficiently. Lack of communication leads to lack of confidence and uncertainty.

 

 

How would you encourage economic development for the Town of Amherstburg over the next four years (and beyond)?

Economic development is a broad term. For Amherstburg I believe we need more growth in our resident sector. This growth will increase our tax base relieving pressure on the overall tax rate. The residential growth will create demand for goods and services which will in turn attract investment in the commercial sector. This as well will increase our tax base. Commercial development will have the added benefit of creating jobs in our municipality. We need to focus residential development and small business development.

 

 

The policing issue is still top-of-mind for some of the electorate. Is providing services on a regional level a good way to save money, a detriment to the town and its identity or would you view it on a case-by-case basis?

I understand that for some of our residents the loss of locally controlled policing raises concerns over safety and security. During the 2014 election campaign residents overwhelmingly voiced their concern about policing cost. The new council promptly commenced a review process.

One factor worth noting is that a few years back approximately 40 per cent of the now municipality of Amherstburg lost their police forces, that being Anderdon and Malden, thru amalgamation. The residents of those municipalities survived the change with little impact on their safety. Policing is changing and no one can argue that.

A shared/contracted service is key to addressing raising costs and achieving financial benefits all the while ensuring the highest level of policing possible.