Pelham mayor joins race for regional chair
He was the youngest mayor in Pelham’s history 12 years ago. Today he is the longest-serving — and says he is ready to take the next step as Niagara’s first-ever elected regional chair.
To the surprise of no one, Dave Augustyn announced he is entering the race, as a crowd of supporters who filled Tim Hortons on Merrittville Highway applauded.
“I have stood up at the Region for you and your interests,” he said. “I have been among a very few who have stood up against the wasting of tax dollars for personal gain, backroom deals, paving over of the wetlands, cost overruns and baseless attacks against anyone who dared to question these and other matters.”
Augustyn joined a race that includes two other political heavyweights: current Regional Chair Alan Caslin and former Welland mayor Damian Goulbourne. Niagara Falls businessman John (Ringo) Beam has also registered.
It will be the first time Niagara voters elect their regional chair. Regional councillors have voted among themselves for the position since the province formed Niagara Region in 1970.
He said he would work with the next council to end backroom deals and to lift the cloud that hangs over regional government by standing up to special interests that have taken control of the
chamber and Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.
“We can ensure accountability at the Niagara police services board, and that we make sure we aren’t playing politics at the expense of the police,” he said. “We need to crack down on councillor expenses — end those lobster lunches — and stop the councillor promotions on your dime.”
Augustyn waved what he called a “blueprint” for his campaign that said he based the platform on three pillars — integrity, prosperity and compassion.
On the prosperity side, he said he would roll out the red carpet for responsible development and explore “the next steps in connectivity, light rail transit from Port Colborne to St. Catharines.”
“Other areas are getting funding in the billions of dollars,” he added. “We are we only getting millions. It is important to move our region forward.”
He said Niagara must also work to combine prosperity with compassion. Compassion includes building and renewing hospitals, securing more longterm care beds and increasing support for mental health, addictions and housing.
Augustyn pointed to his record as mayor as a strength. Working with council, he said, Pelham had kept tax increases below the rate of inflation, revitalized downtown Fenwick and Fonthill, and built a state-of-the-art community centre that is on time and under budget.