58 years old
1. What prompted your decision to run for council this time?
I’m running this time because I want to come in as a veteran councillor from the start.
We have a rookie mayor in Jim Wert, and a rookie deputy mayor in Frank Landry. I want to continue the work that our council did, but as a third voice from that council. I think it will add strength to the work that we have to do. Support for the new mayor and deputy mayor doesn’t mean that you’re agreeing with them all the time on every issue. Support means that you’re prepared for meetings, asking good questions, and opposing at times or going with the majority.
2. What are the key strengths you would bring to the job if elected?
I’m a community volunteer from the moment I moved here 30 years ago. I think community is absolutely core to the strength of the municipality. By community, it means everything from the villages where any of us live, to the sports teams that our kids play on, to groups such as churches or Finch & District Lions Club. And as a community volunteer, I feel I understand very well, local culture, and I feel that I can be a bridge between the municipality and the community.
I’m also, in my day job, an investment advisor. I’ve worked with individuals managing their money for 34 years, and I understand when people have certain goals for what they want, and I understand how their money is an emotional thing because it’s part of their retirement. I think, having dealt with the public that long, for something so important to so many people, that it helps me with the job immensely.
One time a staff member told me that after council meetings, often that staff will have a debrief as far as how the meeting went the previous night. What staff agreed on that … Randy always asks the questions that need to be asked at the meetings.
3. What are the top few issues that you see facing the Township?
I think the number one thing is a seamless transition to a new council. You don’t lose a mayor and deputy mayor of the past 15 years without some growing pains. As a third voice from … our previous council, I think I can add stability and leadership to the group.
The other thing is that when our council first was sworn in, one of our first duties was we hired a chief administrative officer. That position is unfilled at the moment, and we have to find a suitable candidate and grant them an appropriate level of powers.
The other thing, if the wind turbines come, the project that was awarded to EDP, we have to make sure that project is carried out responsibly, that residents are safe from a standpoint of fire, water, road-user agreements, drainage, many, many issues. I realize that the issue is still considered on the table, but until we hear otherwise, we have to be very sharp and engaged as far as working with EDP and being on top of every aspect of the issue.
4. Is there anything you hope to change in the Township?
I’ve been paying close attention to how we, the township, serve our residents. On the administrative side, we heard from some people that it was trouble to get through on the phones, as well, when we people are applying for building permits or wanting to hear back, that there seemed to be a bottleneck as far as response time, or issues like answering the phone. In the last six months, I got more involved to try and audit just what was happening. I think it is improving, but I think our residents should know what kind of response times and services they’re entitled to receive.
The other thing is that we have an excellent recycling program in the township, where we can drop off scrap metal, old tires or electronics. I’ve recently been pushing to get the word out because it’s a great service that a small township can provide but we have to make sure that everyone knows about it.
5. How is your message being received during this campaign?
Honestly, I’ve been so busy with the work of council itself that I haven’t really been monitoring my message.
Many residents may not be aware of it, but we had three senior positions unfilled for a while, in the last couple of months. Mayor Fife led council through that, and it was a lot of work for council, working together to make the transition, which involved a sudden departure [and] employees who were gone for personal reasons. So that took a lot of energy, and I’m very, very happy with how things have progressed there.
And also my hat goes off to the leadership that Mayor Fife provided to take us through that, because again, many residents don’t know what happens at the council table. You could have a snowy winter night in January, where the only people in the room are the councillors, the administration and maybe a journalist. And we’re dealing with very serious issues, such as our water systems, finances, audit, contracts with the wind turbine group, and many people don’t know what happens around the council table. I think that’s the main strength that I want to bring back. I hope to get strong support on October 22nd.
6. Voting begins on Oct. 17 — ironically the day of marijuana legalization. The new council will have to decide soon if your municipality will permit storefront cannabis sales, or opt out altogether. Should your municipality allow pot shops or ‘just say no’?
Context is very important before weighing in on an issue and I would need to have an an extensive amount of context before deciding. My first desire is that law enforcement authorities have accessible and accurate testing of impairment to ensure public safety.