Oct. 22

Sutherland trying to return to council, looking at a councillor position

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A former deputy mayor is attempting to return to town council, this time as a councillor.

Ron Sutherland, who served as Amherstburg’s deputy mayor from 2010-14, is trying to be an elected official once again. He said he made the decision to run for a councillor’s position as he, as well as residents he has spoken with, “are not pleased with the lack of transparency” with the current council.

“There are too many in-camera meetings with very little information being shared with the residents,” said Sutherland. “I truly believe that an elected official must be accountable.”

As for why he is seeking a position as a councillor in the Oct. 22 election, Sutherland said he believes he can have just as strong of a voice as a councillor as opposed to any other position.

“I believe I can be just as or more effective as a councillor at this juncture,” he said.

Sutherland opposed contracting out policing services from Amherstburg to Windsor.

“I spoke out against the contracting out of our police service to Windsor as there are too many unknowns,” said Sutherland. “For example, is it a 20-year contract with the possibility to get out of it and return to our local force after five years? At what cost? This has not been discussed publicly. What about the officers who apply to Windsor police? Will they be able to return and, again, at what cost?”

Sutherland also wonders if the “so-called savings of over $500,000” will cover the cost of retirement benefits for those officers who qualify.

Meeting attendance is something that needs to be addressed, he believes.

“Absenteeism is atrocious and out of control, not only on council but also some of those councillors who are on sub-committees that never attend these meetings to the point that some have had to be joined with others,” he said.

Sutherland added there are ongoing expenditures that could possibly increase the town’s debt. According to Sutherland, he has seen figures where new salaries over the last four years have averaged over $1 million per year.

“I realize there could be some savings by not farming things out but that still has to be addressed,” he said.

Ron Sutherland is seeking a position as a town councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

Sutherland said he contacted the province four years ago asking for an audit of the town’s finances but a review was done instead. That eventually lead to the recommendations contained in the Deloitte report.

Sutherland said he is concerned about the efforts to rebrand the town.

“I don’t have a solution but I do question it,” he said. “We’re supposed to be a historic town. I don’t see the point of rebranding.”

Sutherland also voiced concern about the loss of ball diamonds at Centennial Park and whether the name of Murray Smith will be carried on, as for whom the park is named. He favors the town keeping the 12 acres of Centennial Park that wasn’t sold to the Greater Essex County District School Board.

“I’m very concerned they are going to sell that off as well,” he said.

Sutherland added he supports the Belle Vue purchase “but it has to stay as a fundraising initiative.” He opposes any money for restoration coming from the tax base.

The issue of a boat ramp at Duffy’s is one that “I truly believe there is a solution to” without causing parking problems.

“More to come on this issue,” he said.

Sutherland noted he is chair of the Amherstburg Drainage Board, an ERCA board member, a member of the board for the Community Housing Corporation, a former member/chair of the Amherstburg Police Services Board and former president of the Ontario Association of Police Services Board. He also said he was “instrumental in keeping Amherstburg’s shares in Essex Power.”

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.”

 

Fryer enters the race for deputy mayor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A new name has entered the race for deputy mayor in Amherstburg and it is another current councillor.

Rick Fryer has filed his nomination papers and will be opposing Bob Rozankovic, Diane Pouget and Leo Meloche, the latter two also being a current councillors while Rozankovic chairs the Amherstburg Police Services Board.

Coming back in 2014 after losing the mayoral election in 2010 allowed him to be part of the recovery of Amherstburg, Fryer said.

Noting he had a “black and white” campaign four years ago, Fryer believed he has continued in that fashion the last four years as a councillor.

“Most residents have seen in the last four years that I’ve had black and white answers to issues in the town,” he said.

Fryer said he wants to continue to contribute to the growth and improvement of the town as deputy mayor. One of the ways that Amherstburg will grow will start to come to fruition this summer when the new forcemain is installed from the Edgewater sewage area to the main plant.

“The next four years will be the revival of Amherstburg,” he predicted.

Fryer said he would like to see the town return to what it was like in the 1980’s “when you didn’t have to leave Amherstburg to go to work.”

Amherstburg will be close to the new Gordie Howe International Bridge and Fryer believes that could assist in attracting jobs and industry to town so that “young families can come here, raise children here and work here.”

Town council has already demonstrated the ability to make the tough decisions though Fryer noted those “hard decisions may not be popular.” He said decisions have been made for the good of the town for the long-term.

Rick Fryer has his father Mike be the first one to sign his nomination form. Fryer is one of four candidates for the deputy mayor’s position.

One of the tough decisions was the issue of policing and Fryer was one of three council members to vote to contract out to the Windsor Police Service. Fryer said council has a “fiduciary responsibility” and that animosity over the decision will subside once residents see the savings that come as a result as well as the fact that the same officers will patrol the town, now that the switch has been approved by the Ontario Civilian Policing Committee (OCPC).

“I think savings are a big part,” he said. “We can’t spend like drunken sailors anymore. We have to look at the bigger picture.”

Fryer added: “Nothing is going to change. We are going to have the same people unless the officer decides to go to Windsor.”

Additional goals for Fryer would be to provide greater services residents in rural areas, including McGregor and River Canard. He said he will lobby for the reconstruction of Concession 2 North, stating it is a “thoroughfare” between Amherstburg and LaSalle.

Other goals include rebuilding more roadways around the community.

“A major push will be for our roads to be completed that have been neglected over many, many years,” he said.

Fryer added that removing interlocking brick sidewalks and replacing them with cement has paid dividends for those with disabilities as it provides a smoother surface for wheelchairs and other mobility aids.

Being deputy mayor means being on Essex County council as well, with Fryer stating he has plans for roadwork at that level too.

“I want to make sure that the county puts bike paths and walking trails on all county roads,” he said.

Fryer is the chair of the ERCA board of directors and he said that shows the confidence of his colleagues in his ability to lead. He added his decision to run for deputy mayor wasn’t one he made lightly and discussed it with family and friends.

“I want to make sure I represent the Town of Amherstburg in the best way that I can,” he said.

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.