Perspectives are everything. It's so important we have a council made up of a variety of them. So what's mine?
My family lives and has deep roots in Stratford. I grew up here, and for over 30 years have lived in this ever-growing city. After living in Kingston for four years and graduating from Behavioural Sciences in 2010, I moved back to Stratford with my wife and we have since started a family. I have worked for the past six years as a Rehabilitation Counsellor for individuals who live with a brain injury in Stratford and area. Four years ago I was a candidate for Stratford City Council and came within approximately 300 votes of being elected.
When you're around children, you see the world through their eyes. Our 1-year old son, Bruno, helps me see the city through the eyes of young families, and also makes sure that I see the city 10, 20, and 30 years from now.
What's more important than my perspective? Yours. Every neighbourhood, street, and household has a story to be heard, and I'll continue to get out and listen to as many as I can in the weeks to come. If I am elected I pledge to host a monthly public forum for people to ask questions and provide feedback in an informal manner.
Each Candidate was asked to send a bio, photo and to respond to the ten questions below with a limit of 75 words per answer. We have identified any truncated content with “...” Please feel free to reach out to each candidate for more information.
1. Over the last five years, how have you contributed to the City of Stratford (volunteering, boards, etc.)?
Over the past five years I have been involved in a variety of ways within Stratford. One notable contribution is that I have created a group for people interested in a plant-based lifestyle (Veg Stratford), and through this have raised approximately $800 for The Local Community Food Centre, as well as approximately $600 for a local animal sanctuary. This group regularly hosts events with over 100 people in attendance and brings people together.
2. What do you believe your unique contribution will be to council (strengths)?
My greatest strength I would bring to council is my ambition. I have already pledged if I am elected I will host monthly public forums for people to come and ask questions and provide feedback in an informal and casual setting. My ambition is a strength because I know my limits and when to seek guidance, but am willing to listen to new ideas and accept criticism to help build toward a goal.
3. What would you like to see achieved over the next four years (be specific)?
I believe Stratford needs to replace some of the large buses with smaller ones. I want to see a municipal government that works for and with the people of Stratford, and to help make this happen I will take it upon myself to make at least one member of council (myself) very accessible by hosting monthly forums. I want to see Stratford’s budget greatly improved, and to include budgeting for predictable items like road maintenance.
4. What committees do you see yourself sitting on and what experience qualifies you for that committee?
The Social Services Sub-committee aligns well with my vast experience and education in social services. I have graduated from Behavioural Sciences and worked in areas including corrections, social housing, child custody access facilities, as well as working directly with individuals who rely on social services. I also see myself sitting on the Infrastructure, Transportation and Safety Sub-committee, as I want to see more in depth planning and innovation in these areas.
5. What means of transportation are you using in the city, and/or in and out of town and what improvements do you recommend?
My main mode of transportation right now is walking with my wife and our one year old son, Bruno. I also drive for my job and certain errands. Stratford’s transit system has room for improvement. Four years ago I advocated for buses to operate on Sundays, thankfully they do now. I also advocated for smaller buses, since often our current buses operate with minimal users and this is a potentially significant savings.
6. Describe what you believe the Cooper Site should look like in 10 years?
In short, nothing like it does today. The plan in place now has a timeline of “several decades” to complete, and for me that isn’t good enough. I want to see development of the community hub, but I am concerned for downtown to lose more parking spaces as a result. This site has cost our city too much money with very little benefit, and I want to change that.
7. What are your objectives with respect to housing and how do you expect to accomplish them?
This is a very trying time for municipalities working with the province. I want to make sure we have adequate affordable housing for the demonstrated need –period. We need to make sure affordable housing projects are well thought out and also work with existing neighbourhoods. Most of all, we need to be sure housing is sustainable economically and meets the need prior to a crisis, not after.
8. If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?
It’s due time that Stratford’s elected officials started spending the city’s money like it were their own. I have talked to so many people who are ready to see some more accountability, and I agree. I want to make sure we know exactly where we are financially, to stop needless waste and inefficiencies by bringing new ideas to problems, and to budget ahead of time for predictable items in the city.
9. How will the new provincial legislation with respect to conflict of interest on municipal councils, coming into effect January 2019, hinder your effectiveness on council?
Simply, it will have no effect on me. This means I do not foresee having any conflict of interest now or when the new legislation comes into effect.
10. How will you encourage youth engagement, retention, re-attraction and skills development?
As Stratford grows, there is more opportunity for youth who finishing post-secondary to find local employment. For many people I have talked to who have returned or stayed in Stratford, employment is everything. Too often young people are looking elsewhere for employment under the assumption there isn’t the career they are looking for in Stratford, this is something we can change. Let’s create the jobs when possible, and be sure people know about them.