With 19 hopefuls in the running to fill seven seats on St. Thomas council, it’s difficult to get a read on all of the candidates when there are few opportunities to gather them in one venue.
The first all-candidates meeting for the Oct. 27 municipal vote was held Wednesday at the Knights of Columbus Hall and it afforded the 150 or so in attendance an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the individuals seeking to represent St. Thomas residents for the next four-year term of council.
The five minutes allotted to present their sales pitch affords little in the way of meaningful insight into how each of the candidates intends to serve their constituents.
As a recap — and for those unable or uninterested in attending the meeting — here is the first of a two-part thumbnail summary of each candidate’s presentation. They appear in the order established by organizers of Wednesday’s event.
Ken Boe: He stressed the need to work strategically with all stakeholders in the city and tourism is an economic opportunity that needs to be capitalized upon. Council and city staff have to focus on customer service and St. Thomas needs to benchmark itself against other municipalities.
Bev Splane: She took a more personal approach to the campaign, explaining she is seeking a seat on council in order to ensure young people like her four-year-old daughter enjoy a quality of life that will encourage them to remain in the area when they grow up. As for job creation, she stressed “we are not miracle workers, we can’t create jobs here.”
Steve Wookey: Declaring he is an optimist, Wookey said he is optimistic jobs will return to St. Thomas. While they may not be $30/hr jobs, he suggests they will be in the $19/hr range. The city needs to focus on recreational facilities, he stressed. The Central Elgin Collegiate Institute teacher closed off his presentation with the observation everything you need to know about someone you can get from playing golf with them.
Brett Bear: His key promise is to hold the line on spending. As such, he stressed now is not the time to deal with a new home for the city’s police service. Instead, there needs to be a focus on crumbling infrastructure, especially roads.
Linda Stevenson: It’s time to move things forward, she urged. Spending year after year wrestling with decisions — a prime example being a home for the police service — does not shed a good light on the city. It is also important to work closely with service organizations in St. Thomas, particularly the Talbot Teen Centre, which she praised as a major asset. The city needs a new council, a fresh start. For Stevenson, this is her third campaign for a seat in the council chamber.
Gary Clarke: His campaign team handed out catchy business cards that neatly summed up his platform. Less potholes, more parks and pathways. Less politics, more infrastructure renewal and economic development. Less consultants, more co-operation. Less self-promotion, more public service.
Frank Lattanzio: A veteran of 30-plus years at city hall, he is running a zero-budget election campaign with no signs or brochures. Also an optimist, he looks at the glass as half full, not half empty. He stressed the importance of teamwork and the need for council to make decisions through consensus.
Todd Rowley: He is committed to a healthy and safe community. blessed with an affordable cost of living. His aim on council is to make prudent and balanced spending decisions. St. Thomas should be a city where youth can be engaged with options for recreation and employment. And city council needs to maintain open lines of communication.
Joan Rymal: Council needs to promote St. Thomas as a healthy, safe and accessible community in which to work, live and play. She noted her fresh perspective on issues, a practical approach, good listening skills, experience with budgets and a sense of humour. There is a need for council to be more engaged in a review of capital and operating budgets.
Jacqueline Deleebeeck: As a mother of three, she observed, “I know what families want and need.” The city must keep active its asset management plan as it relates to infrastructure. A priority is to attract young doctors to the city. As a campaign promise, she said the city will have internet voting by 2018.
Next week in City Scope, the remaining aldermanic candidates.
Mayoral candidate Mark Cosens is refusing to speak to the Times-Journal during the 2014 municipal election campaign and we can only assume the boycott will continue beyond Oct. 27 if elected.
Still smarting from a profile written by T-J reporter Ben Forrest — gleaned from a taped interview (which we offered to review with Cosens) and accurately reported with no distortion of facts — he insists the paper lacks credibility.
He won’t lower himself to speak to this corner, we’re nothing but a two-bit gossip column lacking in credibility.
But hold on a minute. What’s this we see on his website on the gallery page. Why there’s article after article gleaned from the Times-Journal. There’s T-J photos of him and the family. Gushing documentation of his accomplishments.
It gets better. A pair of favourable City Scope columns prominently displayed.
Hmmm. What does that say about his credibility?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“This bill is only common sense. I’m hoping by having this website we can build a strong
backing of the bill I can talk about in my deliberations at second reading and hopefully if that passes, into committee.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek on the launch of his website — passryanslaw.com — designed to gather support for Ryan’s Law, his private member’s bill aimed at ensuring Ontario schools are asthma-friendly.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @ianscityscope