municipal election

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.

Prue wants to put his experience to work for Amherstburg

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Michael Prue believes he can use his municipal and provincial experience to work for Amherstburg.

Prue – a former mayor of East York, Toronto city councillor and MPP for the riding of Beaches East York – wants to focus on Amherstburg and what he feels he can do for it. Both he and wife Shirley have owned a home in Amherstburg for eight years and full-time residents for four.

“I came to love the town and everything in it,” said Prue.

After watching town council and the developments around town, Prue decided he wanted back in the political arena and threw his hat into the ring for a councillor position.

“I came to the conclusion that I can help a lot,” he said. “I have read the Official Plan cover-to-cover and I had a number of people ask me to run. I gave it serious thought and I decided to do it.”

Prue said a combined 26 years in municipal and provincial politics has “taught me a great deal” and he believes he can put those lessons to use for the residents of Amherstburg. He was mayor in East York for five years until the amalgamation with Toronto and during those five years, they had five budgets with no tax increases.

“We had $8 million in debt. We had swathes of industrial and commercial areas that were vacant,” he said.

Prue indicated they turned it around and saw commercial and industrial areas be developed. It was also the first place in the Toronto area to be fully wired for cable, allowing for projects that employed hundreds of people.

“We brought in businesses we never had before,” he said. “I played a role in cementing the deals.”

Michael Prue is seeking the position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

The municipality also paid off its debt, Prue added.

Prue sees similarities in Amherstburg, believing “what the town needs is commercial and industrial rejuvenation.” He said it is an “entirely possible” proposal, particularly if a reworked North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) resembles what has previously been in place. If things take a different turn, alternative solutions would have to be developed.

“This is an ideal place for new business, better than Kitchener, better than Toronto,” Prue believes.

Housing development doesn’t provide sufficient revenue for municipalities, Prue stated.

“The way municipalities become more prosperous is through industrial and commercial assessment,” he said.

That is how East York paid its debt, Prue added, believing “the same can happen here.”

Amherstburg has a rejuvenated restaurant scene, he added, but further tourism enhancers like hotels are still needed. The town also has “wonderful festivals,” he stated, but there are ways to get people to walk around and see what is here.

“I have been a little disappointed with the stance of the town as it relates to environmental issues,” he continued.

Prue said this is “a very unique part of Canada” environmentally and wants to ensure that development doesn’t impact native species. He stated there are flora and fauna that is special to the area that needs to be protected.

Prue said he is also disappointed in the number of in-camera meetings the town has.

There should be more opportunities for residents to address council. He suggested that council meetings could be held in River Canard, McGregor, Malden and Anderdon to engage residents there.

The Duffy’s property “needs to be developed” and “I’m hoping people come forward much like they have at Belle Vue” with private donations. Prue is currently the treasurer for the Belle Vue Conservancy.

Plans for Duffy’s and Belle Vue have to be finalized as well, he said.

“Council is going to have to decide sooner rather than later, after receiving public input, to make it easier to raise funds,” said Prue.

 

Lavigne hopes voters will return him to council for a second term

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Jason Lavigne enjoyed his first term on council and wants to bring what he learned to another term.

Lavigne is the only incumbent councillor seeking a return to the position.

“I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this council,” said Lavigne. “I enjoyed the experience of being involved with all aspects of the town.”

Lavigne said he is proud of what has been accomplished this term, stating the town has been placed in the right direction. He hopes voters will re-elect him for another four years.

“We’ve had a really positive council,” said Lavigne. “I think we changed the direction of the town’s image.”

One of the biggest accomplishments of the current council was securing a new public high school. He said obtaining that will allow future generations to be educated in Amherstburg.

“I think that was huge,” said Lavigne. “We spent a lot of time and effort on that.”

The purchase of the Duffy’s site was another accomplishment Lavigne touted. He predicted it will be a “catalyst” for the downtown core but acknowledged there are competing interests for the site, with some wanting a boat ramp and boat trailer parking while others want it to accommodate festivals.

“I think public consultation is of the highest importance,” he said. “We’re trying to get a balance of what the groups want.”

Lavigne believes there can be a compromise on the issue.

“I hope everyone can work together and not form different factions. It’s all of our property,” he said.

Plans that were originally drafted were “a good starting point” and it will be a tough decision for the next council.

Jason Lavigne is seeking re-election as a councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

The relationship council forged with administration is something Lavigne is happy with.

“When we came in, there was a high turnover rate,” said Lavigne. “I think we have a very solid crew now.”

The town enacted the recommendations from the Deloitte report, he added.

Money is put into reserves across town departments and the town is switching to a “pay as you go” model.

Lavigne also referenced the Deloitte report when speaking of staffing. He said the report called for positions to be filled.

Other hires were with the objective to offset costs that were formally farmed out such as legal and engineering. He said there were other requested positions that he voted against publicly.

“Nothing has been done behind the scenes,” said Lavigne.

The town has also been able to invest more money into roads than previous councils, citing Texas Road, Meloche Road and the soon-to-be done Creek Road projects.

Lavigne called the next four years “crucial for Amherstburg.”

Working with the Greater Essex County District School Board on developing the new public high school will be important, he said, as will the decision on what to do with the remaining 12 acres of Centennial Park. Lavigne said he understands the concerns over wanting to keep that as a park and whether the park will be continued to remain named for H. Murray Smith.

“There’s a lot of concerns out there and rightfully so,” said Lavigne.

The town’s festivals should continue as they bring a “sense of community pride most towns don’t have,” he said. Deferment of development charges should also continue, he believes, as it aids development. Further investigation on what other municipalities do should also be done, including what is done to spur industrial and commercial development.

Lavigne said he was opposed to the policing switch, with that decision being based on what he heard from residents. He said he heard “overwhelming” response from people that wanted to pay extra to keep the Amherstburg Police Service.

“I believe the job is to represent the residents of Amherstburg. That’s what I’ve tried to with every issue over the last four years,” he said.

If all decisions were based on finances, there would be no arena, parks or festivals, he added.

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.”