Mayor

Swinton vying to become Amherstburg’s new mayor

 

By Ron Giofu

 

There will be a mayor’s race in Amherstburg as Glenn Swinton is seeking the town’s top political job.

Swinton filed his nomination papers last Thursday and will be challenging incumbent Aldo DiCarlo for the job. He said he was going to challenge DiCarlo if it looked like DiCarlo was going to be acclaimed and he followed through on that.

“There was no way I was going to let him be acclaimed,” he said. “We have to have a second option.”

The decision to abolish the Amherstburg Police Service and contract the service to Windsor was the key issue which drove Swinton to run.

“It’s the whole policing issue that drove it right over the top,” he said.

Swinton said his first objective if elected mayor would be to review the town’s contract with the Windsor Police Service “and look for an out.” He said he doesn’t believe that the residents of Amherstburg were heard during the process.

“I don’t feel they were listened to,” said Swinton.

Swinton opposed the police switch and said he hasn’t received many of the answers he was seeking.

“There’s so many things in the policing contract where I’d ask a question and it would go unanswered,” he said.

Glenn Swinton filed last week and is running for mayor.

Stating he doesn’t have “a big, long list of things I don’t like,” Swinton said there are other issues as well that he would like to keep his eye on if elected. He said that he wants to make sure the town sticks to the agreement regarding the Belle Vue property and ensure that no taxpayer money is used on its restoration.

The plans for the Duffy’s property are also something Swinton would like to be a part of. He said he looked at the proposal for the site but he said that plan doesn’t fit on the size of the property. He also noted the development of a nearby condominium unit and wondered if building an amphitheatre is the best use of the land.

While believing the current proposal is not realistic, Swinton would like to see the property developed.

“We have it now, so let’s do something with it,” said Swinton.

As for the town’s finances, Swinton said the town is “just looking better” as much of the debt is still locked in. That said, he added he wants the town to keep looking better. The deferral of development charges is a program that is working and he believes that it is a good idea.

“We’re building all over,” he said. “The town is booming. I want to keep that momentum.”

Swinton said he has heard from people who believe the town is overstaffed and there are unnecessary positions that have been filled.

“They need to be looked at,” he said.

The mayor should have the answers and not have to look to administration as much, he believed, and that the mayor should be able to clarify items for council members.

If there are still unanswered questions at the time of a vote, the vote should be deferred.

“I want to move the role of mayor back to the head of council,” said Swinton.

The mayor should be more active and immersed in what is going on, he added.

Swinton said he believes he can handle the role of being on Essex County council.

“It’s going to be a learning curve, absolutely,” he said of being on county council.

Swinton added he is not looking to have a “smear campaign,” adding that is not the objective. He added there are a lot of great festivals in Amherstburg and the town does have a lot going for it.

“We’ve got good momentum going,” he said. “I want to keep it going.”

Swinton added: “We’re working on building a plan. Hopefully we can get some support and make it happen. My number one goal is to do what is best for the town and the people in it.”

 

DiCarlo seeking a second term as Amherstburg mayor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Four years ago, Aldo DiCarlo didn’t enter the mayor’s race until late in the nomination period.

Now, he hopes doing the opposite will bring him similar results.

DiCarlo is running for a second term as mayor of Amherstburg and filed his paperwork shortly after the nomination period opened last Tuesday morning. He acknowledged he was doing the “opposite of last time, (and) being the first one in the door was my goal.”

Noting there are a number of initiatives “on the go,” DiCarlo said he wants to see them through to conclusion.

“I would like to see the positive momentum the town has had lately continue,” he said. “There are some new projects coming on line that I would like to be a part of.”

A pair of the projects DiCarlo cited as being excited about include the new public high school going into Centennial Park and the seniors’ hub in the former St. Bernard School.

“I think the town is definitely in need of more services for the growing seniors population,” DiCarlo stated.

When he first filed in 2014, the town’s finances were far and away the focal point of residents.

“The only way we could get in the media was for negative reasons, it seemed,” he recalled.

DiCarlo said while the town isn’t out of the woods yet, he believes things have improved and pointed out the town is able to pay cash for projects “which would have been unheard of back then.”

Town council is a more respectful place and there is a more positive atmosphere in the council chambers.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo is seeking a second term as Mayor of Amherstburg.

Goals for the future include ensuring that a hotel, perhaps even two, come to Amherstburg. That ties into another goal of bringing more people to town. Aside from the bed and breakfasts, DiCarlo said “the issue is that there are no places to stay.”

If there are opportunities for visitors to stay overnight, that will lead to more money for local businesses, he believed.

Attracting new development is another goal, noting the new apartment building on Pickering Dr. as an example of local development. More development will assist with another goal, which is keeping taxes at a reasonable level.

“The more people paying taxes lessens the burden for everybody,” said DiCarlo.

Expanding local festivals is another objective, pointing out the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival is coming this August.

DiCarlo acknowledged his controversial vote to contract out policing to the Windsor Police Service is still not popular with some residents. He defended it by saying the town will not see a reduction in police services and that most of the people he spoke with either supported the switch or were at least OK with it. He said he wants to stick around to ensure service levels stay where they are and that he has a good relationship with officials in Windsor.

“That affords me the opportunity to make sure Amherstburg residents are taken care of,” he said.

A number of services are already shared, he pointed out, including IT, ambulance and waste services.

“We already share quite a bit with the rest of the region,” he said.

DiCarlo said he believes in being held accountable for the decisions he was a part of.

“My simple message is if you like what you’ve seen the last three-and-a-half years, expect more of the same,” he said. “If not, don’t vote for me because plan to continue with what I’ve been doing.”

Mayor optimistic for 2017

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The new year has just started but Mayor Aldo DiCarlo is optimistic for 2017.

DiCarlo states that it might be his nature to be optimistic, but he is hopeful the town can maintain momentum that occurred in 2016.

“I don’t know if we can maintain the pace we had in 2016, but fingers crossed, we’ll keep moving along,” the mayor stated. “Last year was pretty big with things going on.”

Believing it could be “more of the same” in 2017, he noted there is still work that has to be done in relation to the town’s purchases of Belle Vue and Duffy’s. The Belle Vue Conservancy is working with the town to help fundraise to restore the 200-year-old Dalhousie St. mansion and DiCarlo looks for that project to continue.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo

The town has yet to assume ownership of the Duffy’s property as the results of an environmental assessment on the property has not been reported as of yet. DiCarlo says that is expected soon.

“That was really the only thing holding it up,” he said, praising administration for ensuring that matter was looked after before the municipality officially assumes ownership.

The Meloche Road project is also on the horizon for 2017 but perhaps the biggest project for 2017 is the decommissioning of the Edgewater lagoons, something the mayor said could be completed by the end of this year. Completion of that project is expected to help spur new home building in the Golfview and Kingsbridge subdivisions.

“That’s a big one for the town,” DiCarlo stated. “That opens up a whole area for development.”

DiCarlo said people are willing to move into Amherstburg.

“Our real estate is still on fire,” he said. “Our only issue is having enough homes to sell.”

DiCarlo hopes the Meadow View Estates subdivision at the corner of Simcoe St. and Meloche Road is progressing well as that would create more building lots for the town.

Announcing a hotel in 2017 is something DiCarlo said he would love to do but admitted it may be a bit ambitious to expect such an announcement this year.

“A lot of that hinges on what happens with Duffy’s,” he said. “Once it’s gone, I think that will open up the market.”

Budget deliberations are underway and are expected to be finalized after this issue of the River Town Times goes to press. Administration recommended a 1.99 per cent increase prior to the start of deliberations. (UPDATE: Council concluded its deliberations Tuesday night with the rate now being at 1.89 per cent.)

DiCarlo said the finances are rebounding and reserves are being built and every dollar being asked for in the budget is justified. The mayor called the proposed increase “a very fair increase.” He said it would be great not to have a tax increase, but costs increase so no increase is “not the way it is

“No one wants an increase,” he said. “I don’t.”

Amherstburg also faces a low to mid-level increase in MPAC assessments, which reduces the impact for local residents as opposed to residents in other local municipalities, DiCarlo added.

There is no news yet with regards to whether the Greater Essex County District School Board has finalized a location for a new public high school in Amherstburg, the mayor added. DiCarlo said he understands the wishes people have to have the school in the middle of town “but what is the middle of town?” He said what is the middle of town now may not be in 50 years as the town expands over the years.

Completion of the forcemain project and the decommissioning of the Edgewater Lagoons looks to be one of the town’s bigger projects of 2017, forecasts Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.

Completion of the forcemain project and the decommissioning of the Edgewater Lagoons looks to be one of the town’s bigger projects of 2017, forecasts Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.

“It’s all good news,” said DiCarlo. “I don’t think they could pick a bad spot at this point.”

Festivals and events are still expected to be an Amherstburg staple in 2017 with the mayor stating the thing to watch is what happens the second weekend in September. The Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival ran that weekend in 2016 but it remains to be seen whether the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival will reclaim that weekend or whether something else will happen.

“With the town not picking up (the Harvest Festival), I guess we’ll wait and see,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo said he is hopeful the town keeps moving in a positive direction.

“I think the big thing for us year-over-year is to maintain the pace we set and continuing that,” he said. “Amherstburg is really on a roll. It’s been a whole lot of good news after a whole lot of bad news.”