Three Questions, Nine Candidates

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Civic Centre

The by-election for the vacant Ward 2 seat is just a few weeks away, advance polling took place over the weekend. Election day is Monday February 1st.

Nine candidates have thrown their name into the race, some old faces and some new. Only one will take the seat to replace Terry Sheehan.

SaultOnline.com asked each candidate three questions. Today we start with Question #1 with responses in no significant order:

1. What do you think is the number one priority of council for this year?

Sandra Hollingsworth

sandra hollingsworthThe number one priority is defining a clear vision, which involves creating a strategic economic plan for the next 2, 5, and 10 years with goals that will address the decrease in population growth, with a focus on reversing the “bleeding of our young”, implement tactics to promote small to large business expansion, and identify the needs of the community in order to support the aging population (seniors).

Luke Dufour

lukeI think the number one priority of Council for this year is to keep taxes at 0%. Our local economy is going through hard times and that has real consequences for hardworking families who are suffering for lack of good paying jobs.

We need councillors who can think critically about the small ways that the City can be more efficient. Going door-to-door, I don’t meet many citizens who want their services cut. People, particularly our seniors, who have worked and paid taxes in this City for a long time, do not want to have less snow removal or worse roads. We need to find a way to work with what we have. One way to do that is with municipal daycare. There is a better service delivery model out there, and it is through non-profit daycares instead of City-run daycares. Spreading out our provincial subsidy to licensed, non-profit providers saves the City money and makes daycare more accessible and more affordable to all of the families who depend on it.

Susan Milne

susan milneWe cannot be single-focused with only one priority capturing our attention. There are too many important issues that demand action, many of them linked to each other – employment, housing, the environment, senior care, health care, infrastructure and technology all quickly come to mind.

Ron Schinners

ron schinnersThe number one priority of council this year is to reduce property taxes by a least 8% for 2016.We pay the highest property taxes in Ontario that is 14.84% more than Sudbury, 8.48% more than North Bay.53.71% more than Oakville.

Other communities receive no property tax subsidy or a lower subsidy.Sault residents continue to receive significant funding from the province per household but still have one of the highest property tax rates in Ontario.

In 2015 the city received $16 million from the OMPF.Another $15 million from other programs.That facts are instead of using the millions of dollars to offset property tax increases,they took the money and then went on foolish spending sprees.

Andy Martens

andy-martensNumber one priority for council this year is to increase the industrial tax base, to increase to tax base in Sault Ste Marie. Mayor and Council cannot continue to allow the taxpayers of Sault Ste Marie to cope with high tax increases year after year. This year will be a critical year with Essar Steel, this community will feel huge pain if Essar Steel is closed. Why hasn’t Mayor and Council figured out the problem with property taxes, our MPP brought this issue to light three years ago?

If elected on February 1, will call for council to strike a committee of business people and interested citizens to promote Sault Ste Marie around the world, we cannot leave any leads untouched in this community.

David Poluck

dave pI believe Council’s top priority should be good governance, working toward fair taxation, effective municipal spending, ensuring public safety, improving public consultation, and creating a climate encouraging economic growth, and making Sault Ste Marie a cleaner, greener community.

Les Weeks

lesWell, without a doubt the number one issue facing our community this year is the ongoing situation and restructuring of Essar Steel Algoma. As for council itself, I believe the top priority for every councillor is to manage the city’s resources, and especially it’s finances, very carefully. The tax-paying people of Sault Ste Marie want some sort of assurance that their hard-earned tax dollars will be spent prudently and I believe strongly that is council’s number one responsibility.

Jody Curran

jody curranI’m hearing in my door-to-door campaigning, more so than in previous elections, that the top priority for Ward 2 residents is their money crunch. By that they explain that expenses are at an all-time high vs. they income they are bringing in. Therefore they are asking for a break in city taxes. One gentleman said that he was worried about keeping his house. Others voiced similar concerns. I believe in zero-based financing, so that each department justifies its costs from the first dollar. I feel we’ll have to pay special attention to that this year.

The city and the PUC have just announced a break in electricity costs this year, one of the few if not the only municipalities in the province that have worked out such a deal. It could only be done because the city owns the PUC. While on city council earlier, I was a strong supporter of keeping the PUC under city control. One of the benefits has just been proven in the arrangements to delay an increase in PUC rates. The city will have to follow its own example with the PUC to keep its tax rate as low as possible.

John Duke

JOHN-DUKEI think there are numerous issues facing council this year but the one that tops my list is the firefighters issue. Council needs to take the opportunity to have a comprehensive risk assessment done by the Ontario Fire Marshall’s office to ensure that the recommendation made by Chief Figliola is the correct decision.

Check back for tomorrow’s question:

What if anything can council do to make sure Essar Steel Algoma’s situation improve and what should council do in regards to collecting back taxes owed to the city?

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