Tax-happy council would thwart mayor
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.