May­oral can­di­dates trade zingers

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION - MONTE SONNENBERG MSon­nen­berg@post­media.com

PORT DOVER — Tak­ing an op­po­nent’s words and us­ing them against them is the ju­jitsu of cam­paign pol­i­tics.

Vot­ers watch for it at pub­lic fo­rums be­cause it is ev­i­dence of a nim­ble mind and a player who is for­mi­da­ble in de­bate.

The more than 600 peo­ple who crowded into the Lions Com­mu­nity Cen­tre in Port Dover tlast week for the Ward 6 all-can­di­dates de­bate were treated to ex­am­ples of this on the may­oral panel.

In­cum­bent Char­lie Luke told the crowd the mayor’s job is chal­leng­ing and complicated but that he en­joys it. If there is a down­side, Luke said it was too much time away from fam­ily.

Chal­lenger Kristal Chopp, of Port Dover, took note of this and threw it back at Luke later in the evening.

Chopp, 37, is a pi­lot who flies wide-body jets around the world for Air Canada. She’s on duty nine days a month. As a re­sult, Chopp said she could con­tinue to be a pi­lot and have am­ple time left over to be a full­time mayor.

“Do I be­lieve I can do both jobs?” she said. “Ab­so­lutely. I don’t be­lieve this should just be a job for re­tired teach­ers. If Char­lie wants to spend more time with his fam­ily, he just might get his wish.”

There was a dou­ble st­ing to that com­ment be­cause Luke re­tired from his ca­reer as an ed­u­ca­tor to run for mayor in 2014.

But Luke has moves of his own.

He liked what Chopp had to say re­cently about a mayor be­ing sim­i­lar to a se­nior cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tive. Luke be­lieves his 38 years in mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics com­pares well with the fact that Chopp is a new­comer who wants to start at the top.

“This is not an en­try-level job,” Luke said. “I’ve heard Kristal say that be­ing mayor is like be­ing the CEO of a cor­po­ra­tion. And that is true.

“But what cor­po­ra­tion would hire a CEO with a great ed­u­ca­tion but no work ex­pe­ri­ence? This is not a part-time job. You can­not do this job if you are full-time teacher or if you are a full-time air­line pi­lot, be­lieve me.”

Some in the crowd thought Luke’s last re­mark was a lit­tle pointed and let out an au­di­ble groan when he dropped it.

For his part, Rus­sell Cole­brook. of Sim­coe, is earn­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for ver­bal dex­ter­ity through the medium of com­edy.

He slipped a sly re-work­ing of the clas­sic rock tune Stuck in the Mid­dle with You by Steal­ers Wheel into his open­ing re­marks. Cole­brook wrapped it up by say­ing “Char­lie to the left of me, Kristal to my right – here I am stuck in the mid­dle with you.”

“It could’ve been worse,” Cole­brook said af­ter the laugh­ter died down. “I could’ve sung it to you but I’m not here to tor­ture you.”

Cole­brook’s wit was on dis­play again as the may­oral can­di­dates and six of the coun­cil­lor can­di­dates dis­cussed a ques­tion re­lated to ap­point­ing a se­cond coun­cil­lor to Ward 6. This would put Port Dover and area on an equal foot­ing with Sim­coe-area Ward 5.

Sim­coe has two coun­cil­lors be­cause it has twice the pop­u­la­tion of any other ward. How­ever, Port Dover for years has been the fastest- grow­ing com­mu­nity in Nor­folk and is adding new res­i­dents and as­sess­ment at a rapid clip.

For his part, Cole­brook ad­vised cau­tion on a se­cond coun­cil­lor in Port Dover.

“I don’t think we need more coun­cil­lors,” Cole­brook said. “Look what just happened to Toronto. We have eight coun­cil­lors. Maybe we should re­duce that to four so they have to work their asses off.”

Luke feels this sug­ges­tion has merit.

Luke said there is an east-west dis­con­nect in Nor­folk based on the fact that 60 per­cent of the county’s pop­u­la­tion re­sides east of Pine­grove south of Delhi.

The east, Luke said, has bigticket projects in mind but coun­cil­lors from the ru­ral west don’t see any ben­e­fit for them­selves so they stand in the way.

If re-elected, Luke would hold a se­ries of meet­ings across the county on the re­spec­tive pri­or­i­ties of each ward. Out of this, Luke would forge a game plan that everyone can get be­hind.

For her part, Chopp said a uni­fied ap­proach is de­sir­able but – as mayor – she would also in­sist that Nor­folk staff re­spect the unique, in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ter­is­tics of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties that en­gen­ders such a loyal at­tach­ment to them.

Rus­sell Cole­brook

Char­lie Luke

Kristal Chopp

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