Yesterday the voters of Sault Ste. Marie elected a new Mayor and three new City Councillor. Nine incumbents held on to their seats. People vote for the candidate that best represents their vision for what our great city can become. The electorate has largely voted to stick with the ‘safety’ of incumbents. Of course, Mayor-elect Provenzano is the one exception.
I would like to congratulate all candidates for a largely positive campaign. I would like to congratulate Mr. Provenzano as well. His message of change was well received by the electorate. Mr. Provenzano talked the talk, and now it’s time for him to walk the walk.
Outgoing Mayor Amaroso’s message four years ago was along the same line. “Vote for me and Sault Ste. Marie can be a better city.” During her term, our City’s spending increased, while services such as transit (a service that over two thousand people in this city use each day) have seen cuts. Our city only has three real retail stores: Sears, Walmart, and another Walmart. Who else is sick and tired of the lack of good retail choices? I know I’m not the only one. During the Mayoral debates, all candidates expressed interest in bringing stores such as Giant Tiger, Target, Aeropostale, Old Navy, and more, to Sault Ste. Marie.
We have a market of 75,000 people, plus 15,000 people in Sault Michigan, plus about 10,000 people in a 25 mile radius of our city. Prince Township to the west, Heyden, Goulais, even Batchewana Bay and Wawa citizens shop in Sault Ste. Marie from the north, and people as far east as Blind River come to our city. They deserve better than two Walmarts and a Sears.
I urge the incoming Mayor and Council to work their butts off to find ways to court these big businesses into locating their stores in Sault Ste. Marie. I also urge the Mayor and Council to restore half-hour transit services, and cut from the budget only the most useless of expenses. There are million of dollars to be saved. Start with the small things, such as NOT printing the City Council agenda. People can access this information online, if concerned people want to print it, they can do it from home. That move alone will save the Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie hundreds of dollars.
Another great idea that no candidate has put forward is volunteerism. I would propose that the new City Council looks into giving tax breaks to homeowners who volunteer their time and their resources into reducing the workload for our City maintenance crews. Residents who use their snowblowers to clear sidewalks down the street, they should get a tax break. Citizens who put plows on the front of their trucks and start plowing city roads after a snowfall, they should get a larger tax break. Volunteerism is an idea that can save the City money and rewarding citizens for their volunteerism will save citizens money.
Sault Ste. Marie is a truly amazing city. I was born here, and I will live here my entire life. I will die in Sault Ste. Marie and I will be buried in Sault Ste. Marie. Every resident of this city over the age of eighteen had a right to vote. Your vote will have helped shape the city’s future. Sadly, most of the electorate chose to stay home.
Just because it’s raining outside does not mean that you have to stay home. I commend the over twenty thousand voters who ventured out into the gloomy weather to elect their next municipal government. I admire these people for their commitment to the democratic process. Unfortunately, I do believe that a 40.9% turnout is dismal. I also believe that one day, our Country should enact and enforce a mandatory voting law. Every citizen should be required to vote, or face a fine. Successful countries such as Brazil, Australia, and Belgium have compulsory voting laws. Perhaps Canada should adopt this policy. Every citizen has a duty to take a few minutes out of their day every four years to choose their government. Hopefully in my lifetime such a policy will be implemented.
In four years from now, if the City Council and the Mayor have not made Sault Ste. Marie into the economically successful city that we should have been long ago, people will elect a new Mayor. Mr. Provenzano, City Council, do not let us down. The people chose you because they have faith that you can attract jobs and businesses to this city. They chose you because you campaigned to spend responsibly. Cut only useless expenses and restore services that should not have been cut in the first place.
We are watching you. We are going to watch you for the next four years. And if you do not give the people of this city the positive results that we deserve, we will fire you. People are sick of electing people who do nothing for them. I hope that finally we have elected a Mayor and a Council that will enthusiastically work to better our city. Again, if they do nothing, we will simply throw them out of office in four years.