councillor

Five new town councillors looking forward to the challenge

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2018-22 town council won’t be sworn in until Dec. 3, but the five new incoming councillors are looking forward to the challenge.

There will be a new slate of councillors as three vacated those positions to run for deputy mayor (Leo Meloche, Diane Pouget and Rick Fryer), Councillor Jason Lavigne wasn’t re-elected, and Councillor Joan Courtney decided not to seek the job again.

Donald McArthur finished in the top spot among the councillor candidates with 3,508 votes, a position he admitted that he wasn’t expecting.

“There were so many good candidates,” said McArthur. “I’m honoured. I would have been very happy to make the top five.”

McArthur added he is also grateful and humbled, as he doesn’t want to let the residents down.

“I’m excited and a little bit overwhelmed by the support,” said McArthur.

Noting he is a runner, McArthur said he headed out about 7:55 p.m. on election night, something he thinks may have given him some good luck.

“I made sure that at 8 p.m., I was running,” he said.

After he got home, McArthur said he settled in to watch the results with his family. He believed he had “a good shot” after the first set of results came in and “it just got better.”

“I held my breath,” he added. “You never know what might happen but I’m grateful with the result.”

Now that he is a councillor-elect, McArthur said he won’t stop listening to residents.

Donald McArthur

“I told folks – I want to listen, learn and lead,” he said. “I’m still listening but I want to double down on learning.”

McArthur plans on reading everything from the Municipal Act to the Strategic Plan and everything in between.

“I’m really going to cram in as much learning as I can,” he said, but “I’m not done listening.” He said people can still contact him with their needs or concerns.

The new council will have to “hit the ground running,” he said, as there will soon be 2019 budget deliberations and other matters in which to deal with. The new council also has “a great mix of experience and experiences,” McArthur added.

“I think all of us heard loud and clear from the people that they want us to work together, put aside petty differences and work towards the good of the town,” he said.

Michael Prue, who finished second with 3,011 votes, said his election night was “kind of quiet” and waited for the results from the advance polls. He said he learned a long time ago that advance polls usually are a good indication of how the overall result will be.

“I knocked on almost every door in Amherstburg,” said Prue.

Prue estimated he knocked on 9,000 doors in Amherstburg over a seven-week period.

“I met a lot of great people and found houses where I didn’t know there were houses,” he said. “The people at the door were kinder than what I was used to in the past. They had some good questions.”

Michael Prue

After the incoming council is sworn in, Prue believes the next step will be to see where goals mesh.

“Obviously, economic development is key for many people, including me,” he said.

Prue indicated he would like to see the procedural bylaw changed to allow more input from citizens, for council to hire an economic development officer and “have a good look at the books.”

“We need to find more money for roads,” he said. “When walking the roads, you can see why people complain.”

Prue also hopes for council unity.

“I’m hoping this council gets along well together. There’s no reason we shouldn’t,” he said. “We need to understand different points of view and accept them.”

Patricia Simone came in third place, earning 2,966 votes.

“I am so humbled by this experience. Thank you to the Amherstburg voters for their support and confidence in me,” said Simone. “The whole experience has been very surreal. The victory is not just my own but belongs to my whole team. Thank you to my family and friends for their encouragement throughout the process. Thank you to all the volunteers that helped me knock on doors, put up signs and work hard to get me elected. I couldn’t have done this without you! Thank you to the candidates that ran in the election. It has been great meeting each and every one of you. Thank you for taking an interest in our community.”

Patricia Simone

Simone added that she will take advantage of all the training the town will provide to councillors “to ensure that I have all the tools necessary to be the best councillor I can be.” She said she looks forward to working with the members of council and administration” to continue to make Amherstburg a great place to live, work, and invest.”

Getting results and being accessible will be important for Simone, she noted.

“During the campaign, while canvassing and speaking with residents, I compiled a list of questions and concerns that the residents discussed with me. I will work hard to get the answers for the residents. I will ensure to always be available for the residents of Amherstburg,” said Simone.

Peter Courtney finished with 2,402 votes, good for a fourth place finish. He said he “was fairly calm for the most part as I did everything I could possible to hopefully get elected, and felt if it was meant to be, it would be.”

Courtney said when the final polls came in, he was “kind of in disbelief” and “everybody was jumping around and cheering.”

“A few minutes later and after I looked multiple times on the computer, it finally clicked in,” he said. “I was extremely excited, honoured and proud as my fellow residents trust me to represent them on council for the next four years. It was a great experience to have my mom (Joan) alongside me as her political journey is about to end, but mine was just beginning!  I am truly humbled by this election journey.”

Peter Courtney

Courtney said he wants to start planning on an interactive forum between council and the residents through the RTT, whether that be a Q& A segment or council meeting briefs “to keep everyone engaged and up to speed with the happenings of our town and their council.”  Courtney said he also planned to reach out to his elected colleagues “and I’m going to try and set up a get together so we can begin that ‘team’ aspect that I believe is a must moving our town confidently forward.”

During the first few months on council, Courtney said he “will be all ears as I learn the technical procedures and processes of a councillor. I’m eager to learn, and want to possess all the tools it takes to be a great member of council.”

Marc Renaud grabbed the fifth and final spot with 2,274 votes.

“I’m pretty happy,” said Renaud. “I put a lot of effort and commitments into learning about municipal politics and community needs. I look forward to the challenge.”

The next step, said Renaud, in terms of realizing his platform issues are to raise them with council and “build on common ideas.”

Renaud is optimistic heading into the new term.

“I think we have a good group on council,” said Renaud. “I think everyone should be able to work together. It seems to be a good group of people. We’ll get some different perspectives from people. They should be able to bring a lot to the table on the issues they are facing in the community.”

Marc Renaud

Renaud attended many town council meetings over the last four years to try and learn the issues. He spent three months campaigning to try and turn that knowledge into a seat on council.

“I like being busy and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Renaud thanked the community and said he is committed to working hard for the residents every day.

Other results from the councillor’s race saw Lori Wightman come in sixth spot with 2,241 votes, while Lavigne finished in seventh with 2,237 votes. Gregory Moore finished in eighth spot with 2,217 votes while Ron Sutherland came in ninth with 1,964 votes. In tenth position was Frank Cleminson with 1,889 votes while Lena Lazanja followed with 1,871 votes. John Menna finished twelfth with 1,483 while Pauline Gemmell and Libby Keenan finished with 1,288 and 1,125 votes respectively.

There was no race for Greater Essex County District School Board trustee in Amherstburg and LaSalle as incumbent Ron LeClair was acclaimed. Results from the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board race came in after last week’s RTT went to press, but those results now show that incumbent Frank DiTomasso won re-election with 2,329 votes. Kim Rathbone finished second with 1,482 votes and Francis Ducharme ended up with 1,281 votes.

 

 

 

Councillor candidates try to differentiate themselves at “Meet the Candidates” night

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The first of two “Meet the Candidates” nights was last Wednesday evening at Western Secondary School with all 14 councillor candidates trying to separate themselves from the pack.

Each candidate was given a chance to make opening and closing statements with questions posed at random in between. The evening was moderated by Teresinha Medeiros from AM800. The event was hosted by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC).

Frank Cleminson noted he has been an Amherstburg resident since 1997 and “I’ve been very involved with a lot of activities in town” during that time. Cleminson has coached minor sports and served on the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB).

“I really enjoy giving back to the community in different ways,” said Cleminson.

Asked about his vision for the Duffy’s site, Cleminson said the town needs a transient marina, parking and a ramp for boaters. However, he said he was not willing to put the town in debt to achieve it.

“I’m listening to the people,” he said. “It’s not just me.”

Cleminson added there is a need for grant funding as well to develop the site, but it is important to have access to the water.

Relating to the sign bylaw, Cleminson believes “a total review” was needed and that the needs of the business community have to be met as well. He suggested possibly streamlining the process but reiterated the bylaw should be reviewed.

The town has upwards of 287 km of roads, he added, and that liabilities must be addressed.

Cleminson said he will address every issue with the same passion that he approached the policing issue with, and that he wants to get things accomplished for the town.

Peter Courtney described himself as “hometown proud” and that he has spent his entire life in Amherstburg. Courtney said he has coached minor sports in the community and wants to take giving back “to the next level.”

Questioned about the policing decision, Courtney said the Joint Police Advisory Committee (JPAC) did its job and took it to the people. He noted that many at the public meetings said there was “too much grey area” in the Windsor police proposal. If it becomes reality Jan. 1, “we need to be on board” but believed the issue has divided the town.

Regarding Belle Vue, Courtney said Amherstburg may have “missed the boat” because the home is “so far gone.” He supported not having tax dollars go towards the building and while it could make for a wedding or conference venue, he questioned how many millions would have to go into the building before that vision is realized.

Courtney said projects have to be done right the first time and that “it’s all about budgeting” and ensuring needs are taken care of before wants.

Courtney added that he wants residents to be kept informed and that “your gains are my gains.” He said he will answer every call and e-mail, if elected.

Pauline Gemmell believes she has skills that are useful to the town, noting the town is a large corporation. Gemmell is the executive director of the Essex County Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic and that efforts are being made to expand it to Amherstburg. She added she submits financial statements to her board of directors and the auditing of her statements show them to be correct. She said she has a collaborative leadership style and tries to gather input from others before a decision is made.

The public needs people who know how to work with large budgets, she added.

On the issue of Centennial Park and its remaining 12 acres, Gemmell believed it should remain recreational and used to benefit children in the community. She didn’t like the idea of relocating a pool at the Libro Centre.

“As a taxpayer, I don’t think we could take services away from children,” said Gemmell.

Marijuana will come to Amherstburg “no matter what” and she is in favour of establishing legal retail outlets.

“It’s going to be here anyway,” said Gemmell.

More mid-range housing is needed in Amherstburg, she added.

Libby Keenan said she has served on numerous boards of directors in addition to her teaching riding and dressage for 35 years.

“I believe I can help the town with a lot of new ideas,” she said.

There are many different communities within Amherstburg and Keenan added she wants everyone to feel a part of Amherstburg.

Keenan said it is fine to have healthy debates and arguments on issues, but there has to be a willingness to compromise. People are entitled to their views but the will of the majority has to be respected.

Keenan was supportive of street closures for downtown festivals, saying vendors could be brought in and sidewalk sales could be had.

“The biggest question is if people come in, where are you going to put them?” she asked, suggesting a shuttle service from other points in the municipality.

Keenan also promoted an economic development officer and that someone is needed to go on the road and “sell” the municipality.

Emphasizing she has a lot of new ideas, Keenan added she will give “150 per cent” to the job.

Jason Lavigne, the only incumbent running for re-election as a councillor, said the last four years have been “quite a ride.”

“I can honestly say we did our best,” said Lavigne, of the current council.

Lavigne said he has “changed dramatically” since his first election – the 2018 race actually being his third election – and that being a councillor has shown him “there’s more to this than meets the eye.”

The legalization of marijuana and the location of retail outlets in Amherstburg was something that can’t be ignored, Lavigne stated.

“It’s coming whether we like it or not,” he said. “It’s here and we have to deal with it.”

Council can’t be left in the dark on the issue and people don’t have to like it or don’t like it.

Lavigne said transparency and accountability have improved over the last four years, where people can now be recognized from the gallery instead of always having to go through a process to get on the agenda. He added council was “closed for a long time.”

In order to get involved in politics, people have to be ready to be open and transparent, he added.

Council is already trying to promote economic development, he said, and that the General Chemical lands have been with a licensed broker for many years.

Lena Lazanja noted she has lived in Amherstburg for 12 years and that she has worked as general manager of the ACOC, worked at Amherstburg Community Services, is a current employee at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 and is a former Rotary Club of Amherstburg president.

Lazanja said she outlined her experiences to let the public know “I’ve had my toe in every pool in Amherstburg” and that she has dealt with people at various levels in the community.

Lazanja believed a pool could be of use at the Libro Centre to draw more people there. She said Rotary looked at the issue but “the cost was insurmountable for our club.”

Property taxes have risen $1,200 over six years in her neighbourhood alone and that needs must be looked after before wants.

“I don’t think there’s a simple answer to fixing our property tax rate,” she said.

Lazanja also promoted a strong downtown core, stating those businesses are helping to sustain the town with new businesses also welcome. She added she is a single mother who is no stranger to scrubbing toilets so she knows how to work and wants to be a voice for the taxpayers.

Donald McArthur said he wants “to be a voice for all of Amherstburg” and that while campaigning has been gruelling, he also said it has been rewarding.

“We have so much momentum,” he said.

McArthur said he is a “fresh voice” and the former journalist said he will “do things differently” by being as open as possible. He also wants to engage youth and have a seniors’ advisory committee.

McArthur was asked about high water and sewer rates and he offered that expanding the tax base could be a solution. He believed an economic development officer was necessary and believed the current council “inherited a grim situation” but they “turned things around.” He said he wants to make smart decisions with money.

As for his vision for General Amherst High School after it moves to a new building, McArthur said there is a need for affordable housing, to improve residential density not to mention a hotel.

McArthur said he will speak out for constituents and that he will never disparage the town, adding he wants to be positive.

“It’s OK to have disagreements,” he said. “It’s not always pretty.”

McArthur added he wants to be “honest, open and transparent” and that Amherstburg is “a beautiful town with an amazing story to tell.”

John Menna believed tax dollars need to be managed better and that the current council spends like a big city. Roads are terrible, Menna added, and that Concession 2 North needs more than patchwork and that Angstrom Cr. “looks like it belongs in Afghanistan.”

Menna said the downtown core is beautiful and that water and hydro rates need to come down. He said economic development is a tough issue, noting that the former General Chemical site has been vacant for about two decades.

“It’s going to be a tough go,” he said.

Too much money was spent on rebranding and “I don’t think that was the way to go.” He proposed a “think tank” on the matter.

Menna also said there are other issues to fix, including lighting on Front Road North and a light at Alma St. and Howard Ave. He was also supportive of Centennial Park staying as parkland, but thought the new public high school should be on the north side of the park. He also voiced concerns with “red flags” that related to the Belle Vue property.

The town can’t say no to projects like Wendy’s, Menna added, and that “for the future of Amherstburg it means better choices. It means being open for business.”

Gregory Moore said he has a “common sense” approach that he feels people can relate to, including not purchasing things that aren’t needed.

“You don’t spend money you don’t have,” said Moore, noting he comes from a background where he didn’t have a lot of fancy things.

Moore noted he is a volunteer at his church as well as a musician.

Moore said many of the roads “look like Detroit” and that the town has to stop spending money on its wants and focus more on its needs. He believed businesses owners need to come together and gather ideas and advise council.

Moore also disagreed with spending $75,000 on rebranding, suggesting high school students could have been utilized.

“We could have saved ourselves a bunch of money,” said Moore.

Moore believed that more attention also has to be made to the former Anderdon and Malden townships. He added that he wants Amherstburg to be the best and “I’m a winner because I choose to win. Amherstburg can choose to win too.”

All 14 councillor candidates were on stage last Wednesday night at Western Secondary School. It was the first of two “Meet the Candidates” nights that were presented by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce.

Michael Prue said he has a lot of experience in politics in the Toronto area but noted he is a “transplant” to Amherstburg.

“If anyone knows about politics in Ontario, it’s me,” said Prue.

Prue said he knows how to fix roads, deal with upper levels of government and work with council members and staff. He believes economic development is the key to this election.

Prue said meetings should not always be held at town hall, as there are many who don’t live in the downtown core. Decisions should be made with everyone taken into account and that people have to be shown their tax dollars are being used fairly.

There is “absolutely no question” the town needs a new pool, as children should have the opportunity to learn to swim in a safe environment. He suggested getting service clubs involved with such a project.

Asked about Belle Vue, Prue noted he is treasurer of the Belle Vue Conservancy and voiced his belief that it could be used as a conference centre with the ability to draw people to town, which in turn would help with a hotel.

Prue said as mayor of East York, he removed a lot of red tape and that led to industrial growth. They also got fibre internet and grew the municipality without growing taxes and believed that can be done in Amherstburg.

Marc Renaud said he has served extensively in the community and through his union, Unifor Local 200. The minor hockey president said he believes council could be more accountable and responsible to residents. If the “math doesn’t add up” or if a project doesn’t benefit all residents, he said he would say no to such things.

“I believe council can serve the people better,” said Renaud.

Renaud said he believes in tourism and supports a strong downtown core. A strong downtown helps provide jobs and aids economic development.

There is still a need for levies, Renaud added, as they focus money on where it needs to go such as road projects.

Renaud was one of the candidates who spoke in favour of live streaming council meetings. He said he attends most meetings and it is different to watch a meeting in person and see reactions and discussions among council members.

Working with recreational stakeholders is also key, he said, and that they can work together to benefit themselves and to keep costs down.

Patricia Simone said she is prepared to make a positive impact on the community and believes she has the experience to do the job well.

“I want to help make a difference in my community,” she said. “I am a problem solver and hard worker. I will fight hard for the residents of Amherstburg.”

Fixing roads and growing the local economy are two items on her list of priorities. She added that the town gave away its police force and “this is a big loss for our town.”

Simone said a further review of whether boats and trailers should be allowed long-term on residential properties and while she said it is fine to enjoy recreational activities, “if it’s impacting your neighbours, it does need to be looked at.”

The town has to be promoted as a place to live, work and play and she added the “future is bright for Amherstburg” and that she has ideas that will “put us on the right track.”

As for her vision for Duffy’s, she said the taxpayers are the ones that need to make a decision.

Ron Sutherland said his platform is about “common sense, not endless politics” and “that is what Ron Sutherland stands for.”

Sutherland touted his background, which includes chairing the Amherstburg drainage board and being one of the town’s two representatives on the Essex Region Conservation Authority’s board of directors. He was also deputy mayor from 2010-14.

Sutherland said “taxes are a necessary evil” but collaboration has to be held and the new council has to take a strong look on how tax dollars are spent. Sutherland said he is open to suggestions from residents on what they want.

Sutherland said “we don’t know what the final costs are going to be” with regards to policing and that people were allowed to choose the car designs, but not who is actually going to deliver the service. He said he heard few that were in favour of switching to Windsor.

As for a ward system, he said he has never lived in a municipality with a ward system and wondered if it would be useful everywhere. He also wanted a more humane program for the treatment of animals and supported getting rid of a $180 portable sign tax.

Lori Wightman said her job at the Essex County Library is where she learned that listening is a strong tool. Wightman, who has served as unit chair for CUPE Local 2974.0, said that role has taught her how to compromise, negotiate and move forward.

“If we can find common ground, we can move forward. If we move forward, we can find success,” she said.

Wightman spoke against a ward system as council members should be considering the needs of all residents. She said she is “leery” about a ward system and that believes it could divide the community.

Regarding the sign bylaw, there needs to be fewer “barriers” for businesses and that she also recognizes the need to have an aesthetically pleasing community.

The town needs to attract business and industry to town and that they need to work with developers. Infrastructure needs to be taken care of and the town must be accountable and transparent in the process, added Wightman.

 

(EDITOR’S NOTE – In the original version of the story, we inadvertently said Peter Courtney stated that the town should put wants before needs. We have corrected the online version to reflect that he said that needs should be placed before wants. The RTT apologizes for this error.)

 

Candidate profiles – all in one place!

 

Here is a listing off all the candidate profiles that have been published by the River Town Times. All have been posted both in print and online.

We have gathered them into one post so that, should people want to review a specific candidate, it makes it easier to find.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

 

MAYOR

Aldo DiCarlo

Glenn Swinton

 

DEPUTY MAYOR

Rick Fryer

Leo Meloche

Diane Pouget

Bob Rozankovic

COUNCILLOR

Frank Cleminson

Peter Courtney

Pauline Gemmell

Elizabeth (Libby) Keenan

Jason Lavigne

Lena Lazanja

Donald McArthur

John Menna

Gregory Moore

Michael Prue

Marc Renaud

Patricia Simone

Ron Sutherland

Lori Wightman

 

The River Town Times is also running a web poll in order to gauge where the community is leaning with regards to the Oct. 22 municipal election. While the poll is unscientific, we hope it will lend an idea as to what the public is thinking. The link to the poll can be found at this link.

Levies, roads and industry among Menna’s priorities

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

John Menna said he wants the town to grow and be strong.

In order to try and do his part, Menna is running for a councillor position in the Oct. 22 election.

Menna has listed a number of issues and priorities he has heading into the election, one of which the introduction of a ward system.

“I think the people in Malden and Anderdon would be getting better representation in a ward system,” he said.

Menna is open to the idea of putting whether or not Amherstburg gets a ward system up to a vote. He believed the policing issue should have been decided the same way.

“We would have put this to bed,” he said. “We should do the same with a ward system. If you put it to a referendum, the question is answered. Either you want it or you don’t want it and then you put it to bed.”

Keeping the Amherstburg Police Service was something Menna preferred but wants to know how the projected savings were arrived at and how they will be used in the future.

“If the election is going to be where we re-hash the policing issue, I think we’re going down the wrong road,” said Menna. “The future will tell us if we made the right decision.”

Menna had questions over the levies the town has now built into every budget, stating if the town is in better financial shape, the levies could be eliminated or have an end date put on them. More money also has to be spent on roads.

“Our roads, that’s a need and not a want,” said Menna. “We’ve let things go too far.”

Citing Concession 2 North as an example, Menna stated that the road should be fixed properly.

John Menna is running for the position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

“We should be doing the right thing and giving them a new road,” he said.

The town needs to stop having a “spending spree,” Menna added.

“I don’t see where they’ve made cuts,” Menna said, of the current council.

Menna added that “if it’s true we spent $2 million (additionally in salaries) in four years, we need a hiring freeze.” He said he doesn’t see any difference made with more staff.

More business should be welcomed, he continued, and credited those who voted against deferring a planning report that killed the Wendy’s project.

“We say we’re open for business but we are in peril of losing it,” said Menna. “It’s wrong. We should have gone ahead with that.”

Council members should vote with the mindset “is it good for Amherstburg?” and Menna pledged to do that.

As it relates to the Duffy’s site, Menna recalled issues with boat trailers taking up parking spots and being an “eyesore.” If a hotel does come to the area, he asked if the hotel operator would want trailers in front of the building.

“We’re going to create a problem we had 30 years ago,” he said. “If someone can solve that problem, I’d vote for a public launch.”

There hasn’t been a lot of buzz around the former General Chemical site, Menna added, and that promoting the site to developers “should be a priority” for the new council.

Taxation was another issue, stating if taxes rise two per cent but MPAC assessments rise 40 per cent, a homeowner has to deal with both increases.

“We should try for a zero per cent increase with our taxes,” he said.

More should be done to curb losses at the Libro Centre and try and help the situation. Regarding Belle Vue, Menna wants a “game plan” on what it will be used for.

“We have to study it and do a marketing plan,” said Menna. “I don’t want to see Belle Vue be like another HMS Detroit.”

Menna also wanted to know why the town didn’t purchase the water side and believed it will end up costing more if the town decides to purchase it in the future.

Open government, active transportation and tourism among McArthur’s vision

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Donald McArthur has covered his share of council meetings and now is trying to be a councillor.

McArthur, a former Windsor Star reporter and former executive producer at CBC Windsor, is running in the Oct. 22 election.

McArthur said the people he’s been speaking with “want to see us grow. They want to see us develop. They want to make sure there are jobs in town for their kids.”

McArthur said he wants to build on the momentum that he said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and the current council have given the town.

Tourism needs to be promoted further, he believed, including landing a hotel. With a hotel, he said people will stay and spend money in town, which will create jobs and expand the tax base.

“We have to promote commercial and industrial development,” he continued.

McArthur cited a downtown incentive plan launched in Windsor, one that brought nine projects worth about $60 million. He also noted that construction activity in Leamington tripled due to cuts in development charges.

Similar ideas could work in Amherstburg, he believes.

“We need commercial and industrial growth,” he stated. “We can’t have residents paying for everything.”

Amherstburg “is the sum of its unique communities,” he said. The Cypher Systems Greenway is a “gift,” he continued, and “we have to leverage it.” He advocates a paved shoulder on Alma St. from Fryer St. to Meloche Road and said that could connect residents from McGregor to the downtown core through use of trails and bike lanes.

Regarding policing, McArthur said he is hearing concerns including whether the service people are used to will continue.

“What people are saying is ‘let’s move on and let’s make sure it works for Amherstburg’,” he said. “They don’t want to rip up the contract and cause a big fuss. Let’s see if it works as promised for Amherstburg.”

Donald McArthur is running for the position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

McArthur believes in open government and pledges to keep constituents informed through social media, a website and a newsletter. Having open meetings is key, he added, and that he will lobby for as many meetings as possible to be held publicly.

Live streaming council meetings is something McArthur wants to explore, so more residents can watch meetings online.

“The more people are informed and invested in the democratic process, the better it will be for all of Amherstburg,” he said.

As for the Duffy’s site, McArthur believes the best use is an amphitheatre and festival plaza as it will help tourism.

“I don’t want to pave paradise and put up a parking lot,” he said, adding he is open to a creative solution.

McArthur said he supports using Belle Vue for such things as weddings, showers, and conferences but noted “it doesn’t come cheap.” There has to be a solid business case for Belle Vue and that fundraising avenues such as grants as well as supporting the Belle Vue Conservancy should be done.

“I think if you ask yourself if Amherstburg is better off today than it was four years ago, there’s no question it is,” said McArthur.

McArthur said DiCarlo and council “inherited a mess” and turned things around.

“They had to fill key positions and shore things up to make sure the right things were getting done,” he said.

McArthur believes the town should have hired a communications co-ordinator to focus on economic development and celebrate local success stories that highlight the benefits of living and investing in Amherstburg. LaSalle, Lakeshore, Leamington, and Essex all have one and Windsor has several, he said.

McArthur also would like to see a seniors advisory committee established to ensure seniors are engaged in the town. He also supports exploring the feasibility of an outdoor rink that could be used for other purposes in the warmer weather. He also would like to explore an off-leash dog park, noting that Amherstburg is home to the Woofa-Roo Pet Festival.