Pel­ham mayor joins race for re­gional chair

The Niagara Falls Review - - Front Page - BILL SAWCHUK

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.

Dave Au­gustyn

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