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Oshawa votes 2018: Ward 1

With summer now in the rear view mirror, attention will turn to the municipal elections on Oct. 22.

Oshawa is returning to a ward system for the first time since 2010, and more than 50 candidates have put forth their names for positions on city council and the mayoral race.

The Oshawa Express is beginning its in-depth coverage leading up to election day with a look at the candidates in Ward One and will follow with coverage in consecutive order of wards during the weeks to come.

We have reached out to all candidates and asked them what they see as the main issues in their ward.

Being the city’s northernmost ward, it is the only area of the city that still contains any “rural” land, and any councillor running in the area will need to be in touch with the city’s smaller hamlets if they want to gain support.

 

REGIONAL CANDIDATES

Dominic Barone

Profession: As a pharmacist in Canada I have successfully owned and operated my own pharmacy for over 30 years.

What do you see as the main issue(s) in your ward?

With my 30 years of business experience I will do my part in preventing wasteful spending, short-sighted planning and decision-making that does not put the citizens of Oshawa first.  If elected, my first  request to council would be to limit the number of terms to two for all city officials.  I believe that new ideas and view points are important in insuring we remain up to date and competitive in these changing times. Another major concern which we need to focus on is our aging population. Our seniors are our forefathers who helped build our great country and we have an obligation to never lose sight of that.

 

Cathy Clarke

Profession: I have been elected four times as Regional Councillor and am currently Vice-President Community Development at General Discovery, an international trade company working on a sustainable organic agriculture project in Jamaica.

What do you see as the main issue(s) in your ward?

I believe that the City, and therefore Ward 1, is in distress from a governance perspective.  Council didn’t renew the contract of the Auditor General when he wrote a report critical of the works depot purchase and then voted to get rid of the Auditor-General position altogether. I was involved in the push to ask City Council for transparency on this critical issue.  The City has only recently published the report online, after citizens made Freedom of Information requests and then were finally ordered to release it by Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner. It’s now September, and just some of the promised documents are available. We need to break down the wall that has been built between City Hall and Oshawa citizens so that accountability and transparency are more than just two big words.  I will advocate for the reinstatement of the Auditor General position to restore appropriate financial oversight.

 

John Neal

Profession: Previous to my full-time elected position as regional and city councillor for Oshawa, I had a financial background in a major corporation

What do you see as the main issue(s) in your ward?

Why does Oshawa still have the highest tax rate in Durham Region, and the second highest in the entire GTA? Oshawa residents and their families need to see value for their hard-earned money. This means an experienced full-time council representative that has consistently voted no to wasteful spending. Oshawa must spend taxpayers’ money wisely. In order to accomplish this, the City, Columbus and Raglan, must be affordable for all and going forward, council needs to address its spending priorities. For example, the council-approved Durham Region versus Oshawa transit lawsuit, resulted in $3 million spent on outside legal fees. Council’s decision to pay a consultant $117,000 to eliminate the auditor general who was hired to find tax savings is all wasteful spending. Council priorities should be budgets directed to maintain and build new core services and infrastructure, i.e. roads, water and sewer, traffic lights, transit, affordable housing, fire, police, ambulance, health, recreation, seniors, etc.

 

LOCAL CANDIDATES

Theresa Corless

Profession: Elected Durham Catholic Oshawa trustee (since 2010) and former Chair of the Board

What do you see as the main issue(s) in your ward?

As a growing, diverse community we need to develop an urban and rural growth plan that supports our thriving community into the future. In line with the City’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan, and the stated goals of “fairness, justice and non-discrimination”, we need to put in place a fiscal framework that will enable all residents to have equal access to affordable housing and employment opportunities.

– Over-reliance on the residential tax base:  Aggressive residential tax practices are neither sustainable nor acceptable. To have a strong commercial/industrial tax base would take the pressure off residential taxpayers and increase employment opportunities.

– Foster healthy and productive relationships with existing business: Encouraging, facilitating and introducing mutually agreed reforms and initiatives are key. Connecting businesses and local educational institutions helps create opportunities where job seekers can acquire the skills needed to gain meaningful employment.

– Maintaining a healthy balance between development and nature is also top priority.

 

Rosemary McConkey

Profession: I am the owner of a local independent brokerage and for the past 25-plus years my career has been in the resale/new home/commercial real estate business.

What do you see as the main issue(s) in your ward?

Ward One is a unique blend of countryside and cityscape where I feel fortunate to live, and where I have operated my company and continue to raise my family. In my career, and time dedicated as a community advocate, I have been involved directly with clients, neighbours and friends who live and work in Ward 1 and I am aware of residents’ concerns about their city and quality of life here. Among the issues, I will work hard to address and rectify if elected are: Oshawa’s property tax affordability problem; traffic problems; and citizens’ feeling of disenfranchisement from their local government. Outlined in my website OshawaRosemary.com are several ideas I will be advocating to make good things happen for Oshawa. My commitment is to be responsive to Ward 1 residents and my goal is to seek out the most effective ways for us to achieve a more prosperous and vibrant future.

 

Diane Stephen

Profession:  Mother, hospital department administrator, and volunteer

What do you see as the main issue(s) in your ward?

We are all concerned about affordability and that means jobs, utility bills and taxes. With a new provincial government, there are unknown factors around what, if any, programs will be downloaded and/or possible funding cuts which will impact taxes in Oshawa.  Future development is on our doorstep and it will affect the growth of Ward One and our city. All subdivision developments in Ward One must be planned carefully with a sharp focus on family-friendly built environments, more building-type intensification, better transit connections, clean and safe community parks with more varied amenities for all abilities, and safe streets with better traffic control. We want Ward One, and all of Oshawa, to be safe, clean, friendly, creative, productive and respectful to/for all.

 

Robert Stevenson

Profession: Senior Project Manager

What do you see as the main issue(s) in your ward?

The city council will be going through a change, and this is a chance to bring new ideas not only for Ward One but for the city. Oshawa is expecting to be one of Ontario’s largest economic growing cities. I want to help create both short and long-term plans that will see the city flourish in a positive manner. With the issues for Ward One is the high rate of taxes and lack of full-time employment. Both taxes and employment can be lowered by attracting new business development. The 407 now extends through Durham and will not be long until it is connected to the highway 35/115. This, along with the new highway 418, will make Oshawa a gateway to connect Toronto and the Kawarthas. This will be a chance to entice businesses to build and invest their future within Oshawa.

 

Adam White

Profession: Organic Entrepreneur

What do you see as the main issue(s) in your ward?

I see the opportunity to make a difference by opening up a channel for public debate and representation for accountable decision-making. A new Oshawa created by the hearts and minds of the constituents. Presently, it feels like an underlining information bottle-neck in City Hall. While public policies establish the image and character of the city, this city council doesn’t fully understand their housing economics continues to victimize the homeless and low-income residents, and their agency. And the pressure for resources to deliver additional services is an increasing tax burden on the middle-class families.

It’s council’s philosophy of doing the minimum that is expected and operating to a minimum standard that keeps residents and stakeholders in Oshawa in a daily grind and fragmented. Urban partnerships and cultural diversity is how a community learns and explores new ways to solve social-economic issues.  Oshawa needs a new economy revival and be creating again.