Five-way race for mayor
All five mayoral candidates spoke before a packed hall at the All-Candidates night presented by the Gananoque Rotary Club at the Lou Jeffries Recreation Centre in Gananoque on October 3.
The Lou Jeffries Recreation Centre was filled as the Gananoque electorate came out to meet the five candidates running for mayor in this year’s municipal elections.
The evening, which was hosted by the Gananoque Rotary Club and mediated by Carolyn Knight, saw all five candidates, John Beddows, Brian Brooks, Jim Garrah, Ted Lojko, and Christine Milks, talk about why each should get the audiences vote.
“We will vastly improve daily communications with townspeople,” said Christine Milks in her opening statement. “The low cost option is to livestream council meetings on Facebook ifwe can’t do something more elaborate at this time, and let’s putup a public notice sign at the foot of the town hall... Such a quick fix – post upcoming meetings, important dates, a decidedly low tech answer, but it would pay huge dividends.”
She also wants to establish a weekly newspaper, covering current events and matters relevant to the town, stating that there are some of these thriving in Leeds-Grenville; investigate public transit options to help get people to where jobs are now instead and get people working again; and reach out to CFB Kingston to try to bring military families to live and shop in Gananoque. She feels her decades of experience in business in the town give her a special insight into what the typical business person faces on a daily basis. Milks believes it is extremely important to work hand in hand with small businesses and not dictate to them.
“During the off season, I have worked for the Federal Minister of Employment, and last year I worked with the Provincial Member of Parliament,” said Ted Lojko. “My background is in economic development, which I have been doing for 35 plus years.”
As a housing development consultant, he has built 800 affordable housing units for seniors and families in need; helped find financing for community centres; developed two women’s shelters; and was involved in helping make sure that facilities meet community needs. As a volunteer, he has worked with several community organizations and programs from neighbourhood associations to immigrant services to youth employment projects. He understands the different aspects of zoning and development, and is familiar with the necessary Acts involved. He believes in transparency and proactive involvement in bringing jobs to Gananoque. His priorities would be to establish a revitalization committee; establish a Mayor’s residents’ council tomeet quarterly to discuss concerns and ideas; establish a Mayor’s youth council; explore how to get rid of the current development permit system that ties the hands of residents wanting a say in local development; knock on doors to encourage more investment inthe community; and improve affordable seniors’ housing. He also wants to see a fully comprehensive recreation centre with swimming pool, basketball courts, and other needed facilities, aswell as providing affordable day care. He wants Gananoque to be a destination spot, where people come to visit and stay in the accommodations, eat in the restaurants, participate in the festivals and other things going on within the town.
“Itmay be obvious, but I think it is really important to very quickly know the team – the council and the staff,” said Jim Garrah. “To be able to work together effectively, weneed to know each other. I think itwill be important for me as Mayor to meet with groups like TIAP, the Chamber, BIA and service groups as well as Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands. I have heard from many people over the past few years and as I have visited door to door that they do not feel welcome at Councilmeetings. This cannot andwill not continue.”
He plans to review the by-laws and make council more open to public questions and comments, and wants to find better ways to keep the public informed about what goes on. Council meetings were at one time televised, but this became unavailable. Garrah feels that there are other ways to broadcast the meetings so the public always has the option of seeing their local government in action as he feels an informed public is essential to the democratic process. He feels the 2019 budget should be the first thing to be taken care of based on needs, communitywide priorities and the ability to pay. Major projects and new initiatives need a lot of public input early in the process because these decisions can have serious consequences formany years to come. People need to feel included in the process, and all goals must fit the actual needs and desires of the residents. He feels that success is best achieved through mutual respect, healthy discussion and a strong work ethic.
“I pledged to you that I would be your full-time councillor, and I have done my best to keep that pledge,” said Brian Brooks. “I’ve been amember of a number of council committees, panels and have attended Municipal conventions, participated in a number of workshops and webinars, to make me the best representative that I canbe. I have had to make some very difficult and important decisions during my man date, decisions that would have a profound effect on our community, and I am well aware that not everyone in our community has agreedwith some of the decisions I havemade.”
Brooks feels that his decisions were always made for the greater good of the whole town, and he stands by them. He has based his decisions on how things benefit the town and its citizens, and relied on his past experience as a commercial banker and senior investigating officer of the banking ombudsman’s office. He feels it is necessary to bring more people into town to help share the costs. He sees new businesses, new housing, and other encouraging signs of growth in Gananoque. He wants to see more developers involved in the town to make it a vibrant place for people of all ages to live, work and play.
“For me, the vision is winning today to win tomorrow,” said John Beddows. “While I see a necessity to keep in mind a planning line that’s always at least 50 years out, so thatwe set conditions so that our grandchildren have the same quality of life and opportunities in Gananoque that we do now, that doesn’t mean that we overlook today. We can’t sell today in order to buy tomorrow. And we have to be transparent in howwe do it.”
He has nearly 30 years as a member of the Canadian military (Army) and plans to retire if brought in as mayor. He feels that themayor is an employee working for the good of the municipality, and that it must be a full time job with all concentration being put on the needs of the town. He finds there is an acute housing crisis with housing being too expensive for most residents, whether purchasing a home or looking for affordable seniors’ housing or housing for others in need. His vision is to see another Stocking Hill built – currently, this affordable housing outlet has a seven year waiting list. He feels that residents deserve to stay in the community they call home throughout their lives. He wants more transparency, especially concerning taxes and water, so residents know why the costs are as they currently exist. Residents should be able to find data on all costs of running the Town, and be able to have a say in how things are done.
Municipal elections will be held on Monday, Oct. 22.
Christine Milks was one of five Mayoral candidates who participated in the All Candidates night presented at the Lou Jeffries Recreation Centre in Gananoque on October 3.
Jim Garrah was one of five Mayoral candidates who participated in the All Candidates night at the Lou Jeffries Recreation Centre in Gananoque on October 3.
Ted Lojko was one of five Mayoral candidates who participated in the All Candidates night at the Lou Jeffries Recreation Centre in Gananoque on October 3.
John Beddows was one of five Mayoral candidates who participated in the All Candidates night at the Lou Jeffries Recreation Centre in Gananoque on October 3.
Brian Brooks was one of five Mayoral candidates who participated in the All Candidates night at the Lou Jeffries Recreation Centre in Gananoque on October 3.