In past municipal election campaigns when debates were organized the public had limited opportunities to ask questions. Is there something you would like the candidates to answer to?
Responses are posted on the Candidate Answers 2014 page if and when they are received. Update: As of September 9, answers can be reviewed in this document.
Update: As Of September 26, answers are in this document.
Question 1: Amherstburg Town hall has been losing senior employees at an alarming rate. It seems pretty obvious that there is a negative culture at Town Hall. If the culture is not changed we will continue to waste taxpayer dollars paying to resolve conflicts and re-train employees when adults can’t get along. How will you unearth the root causes and fix the toxic culture at Town Hall and save Amherstburg from this costly mess? We can no longer afford the costs of discontinuity.
Question 2: Generally when an organization has many Senior Management Team leave, transfer or get terminated there is a deep culture problem in the organization. So much staff turnover costs the organization money several thousand dollars and devastates employee morale. Do you believe that there is a toxic work culture at Amherstburg Town Hall and if you do how will you work with town Administration to make sure the work culture is fixed?
Question 3: There is no shortage of stories of lottery winners who go broke within 5 years of their big win. One reason they go broke is because they have not learned money management skills. With only a partial audit to learn from Amherstburg Town Hall and Administration are risking a repeat of their past mistakes. There has been a herculanian effort to avoid a full audit, how can we learn what really went wrong without a full audit? Do you support a full independent audit of the town’s finances over the past 5 years?
Question 4: Council members currently receive their notes on the Friday before the council meeting, just days before to digest a large amount of information. In other municipalities council receives much more time to digest and are actually briefed on the several pages of documents they are responsible to read. Is it any wonder that there were several disagreements on partially understood information? How will you change the process at Town Hall to bring them in alignment with other municipalities? How will you design the process so it is less of a speed read and more of a conversation based on information that is well understood?
Question 5: Towns need to differentiate themselves in order to compete for potential residents and businesses to relocate to their locale. Studies show that tourists who visit areas for History Tourism spend twice as much as an average tourist. Heritage Districts have popped up all over the country bringing much needed jobs and tourists. The current town council has stalled the implementation of a ready to go Heritage District in Town. Will you work with Town Administration and Heritage Committee to bring a much needed Heritage District to Amherstburg.
Question 6: If elected, will you commit to council obtaining an OPP costing and if appointed to the police services board, will you commit to removing the OPP takeover clause in the police contract? If running for re-election, why did you not consider doing the above?
Question 7: What do you believe is the Town’s role in Tourism? Is Tourism an essential service which benefits all taxpayers? We have a tourism and cultural department that has ballooned to an annual budget of over one million dollars. This department was started with a $60,000 Trillium grant from the Provincial government to help the Town promote itself. Where are we today?
Question 8: How will you curtail spending and pay down the debt? Would you eliminate jobs? Would you reduce each departments budget?
Question 9: What will you do if elected to ensure that all communities in Amherstburg such as Kingsbridge, Pointe West, Golfview, McGregor and Malden have parks, sidewalks and walkable neighbourhood commercial and institutional destinations?
Question 10: What will you do to help establish regional transit within walking distance of all Amherstburg communities so that residents do not have to rely on car travel to commute to work or get to appointments in Windsor?
Question 11: There has been much discussion about the financial and economic issues Amherstburg is facing. What is your understanding and your thoughts about the societal and environmental issues facing the communities that comprise Amherstburg?
Question 12: Do you approve of this Council/Admin selecting a new CAO on your behalf. Would you prefer to select your own CAO?
Question 13: The Town now is in the process of negotiating a new contract with our local police force. Within this contract (expires Dec 2014) is a clause which if activated could cost our town dearly! What is your knowledge of this buyout clause? what is your understanding of the rational behind the inclusion of it in our contract? What and how many officers would be involved? What would be the cost to our town if enforced one day? From my understanding, we are talking anywhere from 8-10 million dollars would be paid out to officers changing uniforms, not losing jobs? Your thoughts please!
Question 14: I would like to know what the real plan is to start control some of these recent flooding’s in the area, as a twice flooded and $74,000 insurance claim in 2011 less $1000 deductible and a 2nd $20,000 insurance claim now Sept 2014 less another $1000 deductible and loss of flood coverage moving forward need some real answers.. I called town hall and was told “We are not talking flood complaints at this time” … for real?? All that did was anger me more, I’m out $2000 now and risking greater loss if this happens again and being left in the dark with no communication from the town.. I have seen the old plan of disconnecting eaves trough lines from the street which I might add were done when these homes were built 25-35 years ago and direct that rain water onto the lawns, this will solve nothing because I have pictures and video of my street with water blasting out of the storm and sewer covers flooding the area several times since Aug 2011 and whether roof top rain water dumps into the sewers or flooded streets isn’t going to matter because it will still end up in the same place, peoples homes.. My home value is decreased, I’m stressed to the max and with already suffering from health issues don’t know where to turn or what to say.. I’m paying $2500 a year is property taxes for all this!
Question 15: In your opinion why are we 67 million in debt? How do you think it got to this? What will you do to stop this from happening again?
Question 16: What is better for Amherstburg: 500 tourists or one newly-created full-time industrial job?
Question 17: What will you do to ensure that citizens living outside of the historical core of Amherstburg receive the same quality municipal infrastructure and services? This means sidewalks, parks, multi-use trails, neighbourhood commercial and institutional uses.
Question 18: Do you believe the Poison Pill Clause should be eliminated in the Police Contract in order to get an OPP costing to compare the costs of policing of OPP versus Amherstburg Police.
Question 19: How would you prioritize infrastructure projects in Amherstburg? How would you fund them? Do you agree or disagree with the decision to not sell the towns share in Essex Power Corp? Do you feel that by not selling we can avoid insolvency or bankruptcy by using share dividend payments to off set accumulated/future debt? If the town becomes insolvent or bankrupt, what would happen to this share?
Question 20: What measures would you take to ensure that the Town’s employees do their proper jobs and are accountable for their performance?
Question 21: Are you now, or have you ever been officially affiliated with, employed by, fundraised for or held a position with any political party (provincial or federal) in the last 10 years? Is your campaign staff comprised of, or directly affiliated with, a political party? (not interested in which political party you support with your vote on election day)
Question 22: As a candidate running in this Municipal election are you aware of the Fraserville mosquito issue and are you aware of the time sensitive mosquito nuisance program proposal and it’s immediate approval to ensure GDG Environmental to acquire MNR permits to commence as early in Spring as possible? Will you be supportive and receptive to this program being implemented?
Question 23: What accreditations do you possess to attest to you being elected to council?
Question 24: I was wondering what specifically made you run to represent Amherstburg?
Question 25: Do you believe that the Town of Amherstburg needs a hotel? If so, do you feel the town should provide financial support to help make that happen?
Question 26: In regards to the Mosquito issue; it has been verified by the Company doing the current Larvaciding in town that the Frasierville neighbourhood indeed has an abundance/infestation of Mosquitos. The breed is known as a Salt Water Mosquito and is considered the one of the most agressive of all breeds as well as resilient to Winter conditions(they basically hibernate). If elected, it’s most likely this issue will come to Council during your term. This issue affects the quality of life in several ways to these residents as well as a school and its students. Will you support a Nuisance Program for this neighbourhood?
Question 27: Some elected officials have heavily relied on staff to resolve ratepayers’ complaints; once an issue has been passed off to staff, there has been no follow up and no accountability. If elected, how will you handle concerns from your fellow citizens?
Question 28: Amherstburg seems to have an unusually high amount of staff for its size and population; do you think the town has grown to the point that a ward system would better serve the residents?
Question 29: Will you commit to a municipal policy that no public funds will ever be used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities? Will you commit to specific plans to ensure fully accessible public transit and taxi services in your community? How, specifically, will you make Amherstburg more inclusive?
Question for Jason Lavigne: Jason : In one your recent flyers, you mention you are a previous business owner and previous property owner in Amherstburg. Would you give details of this business and property?
Question 30: Would you support electronic polling (secure) on substantive matters plus immediate public release of results? One day perhaps ‘OPP versus local police’.
Question for mayoral candidates: For our Mayoral candidates who have full time employment: How will you be able to put in the 40 or more hours required each week as Mayor of Amherstburg? Will you be at Town Hall every day? Will you get a leave-of-absence from your current employer?
Question 31: Once amalgamation took place, Amherstburg as a whole ( Anderdon, Amherstburg, Malden ) received tax money from ALL the tax payers of the town. Unfortunately only downtown Amherstburg ( old Amherstburg ) seemed to receive the benefits of this amalgamation not Anderdon & Malden. If you are able to win in this election, will you make sure that all the taxpayers receive the benefits of being in amalgation and not just the downtown ( old Amherstburg )?
Question 32: Kingsbridge lacks walkable destinations and sidewalks. If elected, will you vote to fund the preparation of a Secondary Plan and/or Community Improvement Plan for Kingsbridge so that all residents have an accessible and walkable community with neighbourhood commercial and neighbourhood institutional scale destinations? Kingsbridge needs walkable small scale retail, medical and professional offices, and perhaps a new elementary school in this part of Amherstburg and a few small neighbourhood parkettes. Tell us how you will make Kingsbridge a community that is complete safe, vibrant and accessible for people of all ages and abilities.
Question 33: Why aren’t some of the candidates answering important questions? Do the incumbents think they are a “shoo-in” as they are a part of the “4” and a proud member of the good ol boy’s club? Or are they “newbies” that fail to realize their answers may get them a vote? If either is the case you can trust me when I say you will not get my vote!!!
Question 34: Sometime in October, not quite sure of the actual day? Amherstburg will have their new CAO (another of a long line) while at the same time paying Mr. Phipps $80-$90 per hour for his consulting. How long will you let this double salary, or paying two CAO’s go on? In our current contract with Mr. Phipps, there is a 30 day walkaway clause from either party. Do you allow Mr. Phipps to remain on the payroll while at the same time paying our new CAO his salary? His salary is also unknown since Sutton, Pillon, Davies and Hurst voted against Dianne Pouget’s motion to make his salary public? Also would you let mr. Phipps stay on under some other title? (This is rumored)
Question 35: On the issue of local developers and development in itself, how can you assure the residents that these developers will pay the current development fee’s and live up to their obligations through out the entire project until it is completely finished? An example of this is the future of Boblo Island. Mr. Amicone is proposing an additional 200 or more homes. How can you assure us that all future capital costs associated with this project are his responsibility? Who will pay for a projected fire hall and staff (current fire chief is already making his Christmas list) and equipment? Police station (same Christmas List) and staff? Sewage line? Additional ferries? These are all costs which should be born by the developer and passed on to his projected buyers? Examples of this abuse are the fee’s waived already costing this town over a million dollars.
Question 36: Yes we need to move this town forward! We need also to find out who has benefited financially with secret or special deals while the Town continued to pile on debt. Did anyone or developer get a special deal, or have fee’s waved? How did Season’s (developer) attain a different classification to avoid over 3/4 million dollars? Did the developers of the geared to income apartments on Simcoe get some special deal or avoid development fee’s? Developers have also passed on to the residents, the expense of final layers of pavement on their projects. These are only few of the stories being heard around our town. If these and others are true? Someone should pay? Not the taxpayers anymore!
Question 37: Has anyone received their voting sheet from the town in the mail yet? It is only weeks away and no one has? The Town after hiring another bureaucrat under contract, one Mr. Marion to run our election as far as administration responsibilities is now blaming Canada Post for this screw up. The Town simply forgot to mail them out! This is just another example of our administration doing what they want with no council awareness or approval and costing us more money. How will you end such blatant incompetence and get the new council back to running this town?
Question 38: There seems to be special considerations given to certain influential citizens that over ride the concerns of the average citizen. Bylaws were not always supported if special interest individuals sought to get exemptions to pursue projects that were not supported by those affected.
What would your approach be to favours requested by wealthy, influential citizens over the average citizen?
Question for Jason Lavigne: It was publicly mentioned that Councillor Candidate Jason Lavigne has declared personal bankruptcy TWICE in the past. Although he seems very vocal on a lot of issues, can he reflect on these allegations so that the public can be assured that he is a good choice for a town that already has financial issues?
Question 39: What I’m looking for here is a straight forward yes or no answer with your reasons why? Do not want a politically correct answer from someone pursuing a seat and trying not to offend anyone but also at the same time, not answering the question. There have been many of the candidates who have mentioned the 41 items or areas of concern brought forward from the Deloitte review. Are these not 41 issues of concern that have happened under our present CAO/consultant? This is a person hired because of his experience and knowledge of municipal procedures. Is this the same person we want teaching our new CAO? How long do we continue to pay Mr. Phipps once the new CAO comes on board? Either yes you want him to stay on or no, you do not see the need? Your reasons are?
Question 40: Have you ever been personally declared bankrupt or been in a position of authority of a business that has been declared bankrupt? Do you feel a bankruptcy declaration precludes candidates from running for municipal office?