Ron Sutherland

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.”