Five-way race for mayor

The Gananoque Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - LOR­RAINE PAYETTE

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.

LOR­RAINE PAYETTE/ FOR POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

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.

LOR­RAINE PAYETTE/ FOR POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

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.

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