It’s still a work in progress, however there now is the very distinct possibility late next year Elgin residents will be represented for the first time by a female MP.
The announcement Saturday of Karen Vecchio as the riding’s federal Conservative nominee sets up a showdown with former city alderman Lori Baldwin-Sands, acclaimed last month as the Liberal nominee in Elgin-Middlesex-London.
Fred Sinclair is seeking the nomination for EML NDP candidate.
Still on a high from Saturday’s victory over five other very qualified individuals, Vecchio noted the male-dominated federal playing field here is already in transformation.
“Look at our nomination, there were four women and two men,” Vecchio pointed out in an interview Friday.
“My campaign team is fifty-fifty. I find the party itself has become much more family oriented where it’s about moms and dads and grand-parents. Having a woman doesn’t change things.”
In a municipal election campaign that deeply divided the city, it would be fair to say most residents do agree on one thing — thank goodness the damn thing is over with.
The focus on a new police station and, to a lesser extent, revisiting the two-year-old Ascent remuneration boondoggle that ensnared Ald. Tom Johnston, completely shifted the focus away from more pressing concerns.
Will this new council work as a unified body to address unemployment, poverty and homelessness, a staggering infrastructure deficit, the city’s woeful transit system and the west end of Talbot St., to name but a few items requiring urgent attention?
And, while it would be easy for us all to take credit for electing a new-look council, the realization is fresh faces in the council chamber at city hall was an inevitable reality as three veterans were retiring and another two would be casualties in the mayoral race.
Prior to the 2003 municipal vote, this corner checked in with the author of a citizen’s guide to electing better public officials who encouraged voters to maximize the impact of their decision when they cast ballots.
Charles Bens has consulted more than 200 public sector organizations in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Latin America, and he advocates a process he calls “quality voting.”
In the aldermanic race, voters can cast up to a maximum of seven votes, but Bens stresses there is no requirement to endorse that number of candidates.
The goal, argues Bens, is to only support those candidates “who will make good decisions on behalf of the community.”
If a voter feels they have accomplished that by supporting less than the maximum allowed seven candidates, then they should not feel obligated to cast the remainder of their votes.
He pointed out just filling up the ballot “can sometimes send irresponsible and unethical people to public office.”
After a short time-out in St. Thomas, homeless advocate Jason McComb is back on the road — continuing his Walking in the Free World cross-Canada trek.
On his lay-over, he met with MP Joe Preston, MPP Jeff Yurek and St. Thomas Mayor Heather Jackson to draw attention to the plight of the homeless in order to get them back contributing to society.
He was encouraged to approach all candidates in the upcoming municipal vote to peg them down on homeless initiatives.
During a similar round table discussion back in January, Jason made the following observation about the city’s seasonal shelter, Inn out of the Cold.
“Get them in, get them fed, get them showered, get them to bed. Then it’s here’s your breakfast and now out you go.
A municipal election campaign that had all the excitement of watching paint dry exploded into life Tuesday with Cliff Barwick’s announcement he is seeking a return to the mayor’s office at city hall.
That pits the two primary combatants in the 2010 mayoral showdown — Mayor Heather Jackson and Barwick — in a rematch on Oct. 27.
But, it is going to get better.
Over the next week or so, expect either Ald. Jeff Kohler or Ald. Mark Cosens to join the fray.
If it’s the former, that sets up a tantalizing scenario pitting the last three St. Thomas mayors in a winner-take-all smackdown.
Whether you’ve signed the petition and support renovation of the existing police station or are a proponent of a new, purpose-built police HQ, you should be aware the picture came into a slightly sharper focus on Wednesday.
At the police building committee meeting at city hall, members were updated on both scenarios.
Paul Sapounzi of the Ventin Group Architects gave those in attendance a first look at what a new facility might look like on city-owned land just west of the Timken Centre.
The schematic drawings detailed a 30,000 sq. ft, one-storey building (with basement) which would face Wellington St. and complement the twin-pad arena.
The station, parking areas and outdoor compound would occupy 3.2 acres of the site, leaving 1.7 acres for expansion or possibly additional parking for the Timken Centre.
Sapounzi described the early concept as a work in progress that will be “in keeping with the needs for now and in the future.
“This is a test of square footage,” he continued, “now we need to get into details.”
You have to admire the patience of St. Thomas Police Chief Darryl Pinnell, who calmly answered a bevy of questions Thursday during an accessibility tour of the Colin McGregor Justice Building.
The walk-through of all three floors — including the lock-up area — proved an eye-opener in several regards. The structure is a daunting challenge for anyone with accessibility issues and the floor space available on the now-vacant second floor likely cannot be considered functional for police use without significant modifications
Designing work areas around the two large courtrooms remaining intact surely must be a design challenge.
There is not one single accessible washroom in the building, the one elevator is in the centre of the structure and originates in the jail area and even the existing main floor is a cluttered maze.
The city’s most exclusive club saw its membership increase by four in 2013. We’re talking about the Sunshine Club at city hall — those employees who earned $100,000 or more under public sector salary disclosure.
Mind you, it was a modest increase from 58 select members in 2012 to 62 this past year.
A far cry from the door-crashing rush in 2012 when the rolls swelled to 58 from 39 in 2011.
Breaking the numbers down, in 2013 city administration counted 14 in the Sunshine Club, up from 13 the year previous.
The police department enrolment actually declined by one — from 17 to 16.
At the fire halls, the ranks increased to 32 in 2013 from 28 in 2012. That means the fire department membership is greater than the police and city administration combined.
Concentrating on administration salaries only, the top wage-earner last year was CAO Wendell Graves at $165,900, which is actually down from a year ago at $166,315. Continue reading
With the very distinct possibility we’ll undertake a couple of trips to the polls in 2014, the wind and water are coming together for what should prove to be an entertaining year in the council chamber at city hall.
Thursday was the first day nomination papers could be filed for the Oct. 27 municipal vote and, to the best of our knowledge, no sitting member of council has taken the first step on the road to re-election.
So, let’s do a little armchair quarterbacking and go around the horseshoe and speculate on who is going to do what this year.
Starting at the top, Mayor Heather Jackson will certainly seek a second term at the helm. Will she retain her voter base and has she managed to gain the confidence of a significant number of ratepayers who shied away from her in 2010?
There is a good possibility she will be in at least a three-horse race; has she the stamina and resources to fend off challengers?