Tax-happy coun­cil would thwart mayor

Windsor Star - - OPINION - GORD HENDERSON g_hen­der­son61@ya­

An al­liance of con­ve­nience among area Lib­er­als, New Democrats, labour and as­sorted left­ies is mak­ing a con­certed bid to neuter Mayor Drew Dilkens by snatch­ing con­trol of coun­cil a week from Mon­day.

If they can snag six coun­cil seats, it won’t mat­ter who sits in the mayor’s chair for the next four years be­cause power will be back in the mitts of those who long for the good old days of soar­ing taxes, bloated pay­rolls and ru­n­away debt.

That’s why this elec­tion, tire­some as it is, com­ing on the heels of the June pro­vin­cial vote, re­ally mat­ters. It will de­ter­mine whether Wind­sor con­tin­ues on its cur­rent sus­tain­able path or spends the next 1,460-plus days back­slid­ing. It’s your call, but here are my picks with an eye to see­ing that the next four years don’t be­come a de­struc­tive im­passe for Wind­sor. Ward 1: Fred Fran­cis is proof the ap­ple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Smart, eru­dite and a quick study like his older brother Ed­die, Fran­cis per­formed in his rookie term like a sea­soned vet­eran. He’s a pug­na­cious de­fender of hold­ing the line on taxes and is clearly a po­ten­tial fu­ture mayor.

Ward 2: In­cum­bent John El­liott is in a tough fight with Fabio Costante, a lawyer and Lib­eral who ap­pears to be track­ing the clas­sic po­lit­i­cal run­way, from trustee to coun­cil­lor to a soft land­ing at ei­ther Queen’s Park or Par­lia­ment Hill.

I like both, but El­liott strikes me as the more authen­tic west-end rep­re­sen­ta­tive. A slow starter, he’s grown into the job and has brought the ward a raft of good­ies. To me, he’s a downto-earth in­di­vid­ual who just wants to serve his con­stituents well, not use his seat as a step­ping stone. He’s also a great role model for mi­nor­ity kids in this di­verse city and it would be a shame to lose that.

Ward 3: No con­test. Rino Bor­tolin will re­main the head­line grab­bing go-to guy in his be­sieged ward. Maybe that’s a plus be­cause he cer­tainly knows how to keep the lens fo­cused on down­town’s mis­ery. Maybe I’m de­lud­ing my­self, but Bor­tolin seems a bit less full of him­self fol­low­ing his hum­bling third-place fin­ish for the Lib­er­als in Wind­sor West in June.

Ward 4: Chris Holt is a lock. I’m not a fan of his re­lent­lessly ad­ver­sar­ial stance since 2014 but he’s the right fit for hip Walk­erville with his fo­cus on cy­cling, ur­ban in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion and pub­lic tran­sit. An SUV guy, he ain’t.

Ward 5: Ed Sleiman sets the bar ridicu­lously high for chal­lengers. This high-oc­tane 75-yearold sits on no fewer than 25 boards and com­mit­tees and makes house calls, at any hour, like an old-time fam­ily doc­tor. Some­one cal­cu­lated that he makes about $5 an hour, given all the hours he logs. He loves his job, but loves his lucky con­stituents more. For him, this is more than work. It’s a call­ing. And that makes him one of a kind.

Ward 6: A tough, smart ward ad­vo­cate and lead­ing coun­cil player, Jo-Anne Gignac is a great role model. It would be a trav­esty, bor­der­ing on the ab­surd, if coun­cil’s only fe­male were to lose, in this of all years, to one of her far-from-in­spir­ing male chal­lengers.

Ward 7: With three well-known chal­lengers split­ting the vote, Irek Kus­mier­czyk is prob­a­bly a shoo-in. The big­ger ques­tion is whether this for­mer Lib­eral can­di­date — who ran fed­er­ally in 2011 in Wind­sor-Te­cum­seh — will com­plete his term or run again for higher of­fice.

Ward 8: David Sundin ran un­suc­cess­fully for the Trudeau Lib­er­als in 2015, but we won’t hold that against him. The im­por­tant thing is that Dilkens, for whom this num­bers game is a make-or-break deal, be­lieves Sundin, who part­nered with him on projects at law school and at the McTeague law firm, could be a key ally. He con­sid­ers him a smart, prac­ti­cal in­di­vid­ual who would put aside par­ti­san pol­i­tics to make sen­si­ble choices.

Ward 9: I had lots to say about in­cum­bent Hi­lary Payne last Satur­day. I’ll leave it at that, ex­cept to say I ad­mire his guts in tak­ing on the re­gion’s dom­i­nant po­lit­i­cal ma­chine.

Ward10: Coun. Paul Bor­relli’s tongue is his worst en­emy. But that’s a picayune fail­ing com­pared to the steam­ing mess that sealed his pre­de­ces­sor’s fate. Bot­tom line: he gets the job done. His suc­cess in se­cur­ing key in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing im­mi­nent fixes for the so-called Dougall Death Trap and the chronic North­wood/Do­min­ion log­jam, war­rants an­other shot.


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