councillor

Lazanja hopes to help Amherstburg stay “on the map” and be sustainable

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Lena Lazanja wants to keep Amherstburg on the map and do so as a member of town council.

Lazanja is seeking a councillor’s position in the Oct. 22 municipal election and calls Amherstburg a “hidden diversity gem,” adding it “is the perfect foundation on which to build.” She noted the mix of rural and residential and the retirees and young families.

Community involvement is something Lazanja said she is no stranger to and she believes that has allowed her to speak with people from all walks of life.

“Since moving to Amherstburg in 2006, I have been actively involved in our community and, as a result, I have been fortunate to work alongside its residents, community leaders, service organizations and volunteers,” said Lazanja. “I have had the pleasure of serving people of all backgrounds and causes and I see my role on council as providing the next step in my continued service to our town.”

Lazanja believes the current town council has done “an incredible job” on moving ahead with initiatives and called it “critical to our progress in putting Amherstburg on the map.” What is equally important, she continued, “will be our ability to look ahead with future goals in order to maintain that momentum, to see the potential growth beyond our boundaries and, most importantly, to continue to build a positive relationship and follow up with our residents wants and needs.”

Lena Lazanja is seeking a councillor’s position in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

Bringing in younger families and youth is important, she believes, and opportunities need to be provided for them to come and stay in Amherstburg. She said Amherstburg lacks necessary opportunities for youth and young families to see a future in Amherstburg.

Lazanja said her vision is grounded in three key elements, which are a continued commitment to transparency and accountability, a focus on responsible economic growth and “lucrative development,” and an emphasis on stability.

“We have an under-utilized waterfront and areas rich in commercial investment potential,” she said. “We have a desperate need for industry growth and establishing sustainable business.”

What the town does have, she added, is a shared goal of being actively involved in the betterment of Amherstburg.

“Imagine what our ‘little-big’ town could accomplish if we collectively committed to the changes we want to see?” Lazanja asked. “I am up for the challenge to work with, not for, the residents of Amherstburg as one of their town councillors, to ‘be the change you want to see.’”

One of her main goals, she added, is to listen to people in order to serve the residents. She said she “sees so much promise here” and that while Amherstburg is “on the map,” the goal is to continue to push that forward and make the town a “place to be, not just to retire, not just in the summer but the place to call home.”

Tourism is a big draw, Lazanja noted, but believed more needed to be done to bring in people during the winter months.

Among the volunteering and work experiences that Lazanja has undertaken include working as the executive board secretary at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157, being a past assistant lecturer and research assistant in the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor, a past general manager at the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce and a former administrative assistant at Amherstburg Community Services, being a Rotarian for ten years including four as president, and being a member of the  board of governors at the University of Windsor as president of the Graduate Students Society and Women’s Issues Liaison. She states she is also currently working towards her PhD in education.

“I wish all of my fellow candidates a successful campaign,” she added.

Simone believes work and volunteer experience could help her on council

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Patricia (Pat) Simone believes her experience in her professional life and her volunteer life will assist her if elected as a councillor Oct. 22.

Simone has filed to run for town council and wants to contribute further to her home community, a community she has called home for almost 30 years.

“I just want to give back to the community that has given so much to me,” she said. “I want to be their voice on council.”

Simone is a graduate of Stella Maris Elementary School and St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School and attended Fanshawe College where she received her law clerk diploma before returning to Amherstburg to study at the University of Windsor where she graduated with a B.A. Honours Political Science and Communications Studies. She also attended George Washington University where she received a Program of Applied Politics Certificate.
Simone currently works at the University of Windsor Cross-Border Institute as a business development research coordinator.

“I know from their perspective what they are looking for,” she said, of the business community as she works with small and medium sized enterprises. She believes she understands what businesses need and what would bring them to Amherstburg to stay.

Patricia (Pat) Simone is seeking a councillor’s position in the Oct. 22
municipal election.

Simone has volunteered with the Essex County International Women’s Day committee, the Council of Women for Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor (WEST), the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival and the Verdi Club. She is also currently a member of the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB).

Having “positive conversations” about the community is one of Simone’s objectives as she believes that will help bring people together towards common goals. Encouraging and facilitating positive conversations would produce measurable results, she believes.

“We have a great town but I think there are always improvements that can be made to make Amherstburg better,” said Simone. “I know that working together, Amherstburg can thrive and flourish.”

Simone said her platform will come out soon and she said she is looking forward to learning what the residents want and need. She believes she is known for her hard work and dedication to public causes.

“I’m very excited to start going door-to-door and meeting the people in the Town of Amherstburg, listening to what they have to say and hearing what they need,” she said, adding she looks forward to visiting with as many residents as she can to hear their ideas and concerns for what can Amherstburg better.

If elected, Simone said she wants to make informed decisions with those decisions being “based on what the taxpayers want.”

Simone spoke at the June 26 OCPC public hearings, acknowledging her views don’t reflect whatever committees she sits on. Her concerns raised that night to the OCPC included the ongoing personnel complaints that agency is investigating about Windsor police, whether the OPP could also provide an adequate and effective force, the Windsor police’s business plan. Simone said last week she can’t go into any specifics due to her role on the APSB and JPAC committee but she called the Amherstburg Police Service “great,” adding “I think we should stay with the force we already have.”

Simone said she can bring a “fresh perspective” to town council, in part due to her professional and volunteer background, and she added that she demonstrated her ability to work as a member of a team by listening to other people’s perspectives. Other goals, if elected, would be to show up to meetings and ensuring residents have all the information they need before council makes decisions.

 

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.

Veteran politician announces retirement from elected service

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

After almost three decades of elected service, Joan Courtney is leaving politics.

The long-time political figure announced her retirement from politics via a letter to the River Town Times Friday afternoon. Courtney was elected as a town councillor in 2014 after 23 years as a Catholic school board trustee.

Joan Courtney has decided not to seek re-election. She has spent the last four years as an Amherstburg town councillor after spending 23 years as a Catholic school board trustee.

Courtney’s letter states:
“To the residents of Amherstburg,

After 27 consecutive years in politics, I have decided that it is time to retire. Having spent 23 years as an English school board trustee, I have been fortunate to represent the ratepayers of Amherstburg, LaSalle, Harrow and Kingsville. What a journey it has been!

“I was first elected in 1991, serving as a trustee with the Essex County Roman Catholic Separate School Board. After amalgamation, my territory became Amherstburg and LaSalle where I served on the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board. My years as a trustee were a true joy. I met so many people during that time and made friendships with fellow trustees, members of administration, teachers and taxpayers. I was treated with honour and respect and truly appreciate the loyalty I received. My fellow colleagues and I formed a bond each term and again I made lasting friendships.

“In 2014, I decided to venture into the world of municipal government. What a change! I’ve learned so much as a councillor and came to realize how much work it takes to make a town run smoothly. Many departments must work together and councillors have the obligation to meet the needs of their constituents.

“Once again, I have met many fine people and couldn’t have asked for a better group of councillors and administration as well as department personnel to work with. When I began my term in 2015, Amherstburg was in a bad place. Now, in 2018, I am so proud of what we have accomplished to turn our town around. We are looking to the future and have instituted many new ideas to move the town forward. I and  my fellow councillors as well as our administration have worked diligently to create a town of beauty and exciting new projects. I believe we have found our way back again and are back on the right track.

“Amherstburg is a town of history and has a bright and shining future. I want to take the opportunity to thank you, the residents of Amherstburg, for the trust and support you have shown me all these years. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve you as a trustee and a councillor. You have made this an experience I will never forget!

“Sincerely, Councillor Joan Courtney.”

Courtney becomes the second member of town council to officially declare they are not running in the Oct. 22 municipal election. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale declared in May that he would not seek re-election.

Discretionary spending, finding efficiencies among key issues for Moore

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The vote to contract out policing in Amherstburg to the Windsor Police Service was the big factor for Gregory Moore and his decision to run for town council.

Moore is seeking the position of councillor and said the Feb. 26 policing vote made by the current council is what caused him to decide to run. Moore said he is in opposition to the switch.

“That was the last thing that pushed me over the edge was the farming out of Amherstburg police,” said Moore. “I think the police are a big part of our community. The police and our community go hand-in-hand.”

Moore said that he has watched the decisions council has made the last few years and decided he wants to try and get on council himself.

“I guess I can’t complain if I’m not willing to do something,” he said.

The town’s debt is still large, said Moore, and that a closer look has to be had on the town’s discretionary spending.

“I think that’s a real issue that needs to be looked at,” said Moore.

Gregory Moore is running for the
position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

Moore suggested the possibility of the town retaining ownership of the Libro Centre but having a private company manage it in order to reduce the financial liability that operating an arena carries. He said that Duffy’s is synonymous with Amherstburg but wonders if the town was right in purchasing Belle Vue and the former St. Bernard School site when they did.

“If you look at the situation, we can’t afford Belle Vue,” he believed. “We can’t afford St. Bernard School. We really can’t afford these as a town right now.”

If it were not for the debt, Moore stated, “It might be a totally different story.”

Moore stated: “I think spending needs to be frozen for council, the mayor and the CAO until further notice.”

Moore believed the town needs to be “creative” in its operations so that no additional pressures are placed on taxpayers. That includes a look at every town department.

“Everything needs to be looked at. Efficiencies need to be created,” said Moore.

Moore feels the town is on the same footing it was four years ago.

“I think it’s a wash,” he said. “I don’t see it being any better or any worse.”

There are certain expenditures that have to be made, with Moore citing rural roads as an example.

“The roads are worse out there,” he said. “These roads need to be fixed. These are needs, not wants.”

“Rising water and sewage rates need to be reined in,” he stated. “These costs really impact middle income families as well as looking for alternative measures to avoid continual property tax increases.

Moore said he would like to see more activities for both youth and seniors, including programming by the town for seniors that could be merged with existing groups.

More room for fishing from the shoreline is needed in town, stated Moore.

“I believe I can bring something completely different to the table,” he said.

Moore works at Chrysler and has lived in Amherstburg for 20 years after growing up in Harrow. He serves on his church’s board in Colchester. He also fought the province’s sexual education curriculum serval years ago.

“My family has a very long history here in Amherstburg,” he added. “We are direct descendants of the Underground Railroad. My great grandfather Albert Wilson was in fact born here on the shores of Amherstburg after his mom made an escape swimming across the Detroit River.”