Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
There will be competition for the mayor’s seat come the October municipal election in Stratford.
Don Robinson, a local cab driver, filed his nomination papers at City Hall on Jan. 21. As of press time, he is the only candidate to officially put his name forward for office.
The 47-year-old is a life-long city resident who, in an interview with the Gazette last week, said he has been following the local political scene closely, but from a distance, over the last several years. He even considered a run for mayor in 2010 but noted the timing wasn’t quite right for his family.
Robinson is married and has two teenage daughters who have both graduated from high school. He now has the time to commit to running a proper campaign, he said.
Despite being a political newcomer, Robinson feels he has a good grasp on what local issues will resonate with voters. It’s not uncommon when driving cab for passengers to vent their frustrations, he noted.
Taxes being too high, a public transit system that doesn’t work for everyone, a lack of attention paid to our younger citizens, and inadequate snow removal are all themes that he said come up on a regular basis.
Robinson noted Stratford residents are paying some of the highest taxes in Ontario as a result of council’s wasteful spending habits. The city’s roughly $87 million debt is “outrageous” for a municipality of this size, he added.
Taking a closer look at the numbers, Stratford’s total tax rates on residential, commercial, and industrial property types are all higher than average but below several other municipalities, according to the 2013 BMA study, which is available on the city’s website.
The comparison, which is based on 2012 data, also revealed Stratford’s level of per capita debt is $1,943 – second highest amongst the approximate 100 municipalities studied. That is actually an improvement from last year, when the city’s per capital amount of debt was the highest at $2,004.
Robinson is adopting an open-door policy to engage with taxpayers leading up to the election. He plans to have a website created soon and has set up an email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – for people to send him questions and concerns.
“I want people to contact me. I want to address their issues,” he said.
Delivering his most pointed remark, Robinson said Mayor Dan Mathieson is a leader who represents “five per cent of the people … the high class,” and noted that, if elected, he would be a “mayor for everybody,” someone who looks after the poor and minimum wage earners as much as the affluent.
That means making sure city buses are running on Sundays, improving the living conditions for people in public housing, and working with the youth population to come up with solutions for keeping them off the streets and away from drugs.
In addition to his job with City Cabs, Robinson works at the local Walmart. Before that he worked for Thames Bend Farms in Tavistock traveling the world buying and selling breeding stock, and at one time managed the four Tim Hortons in Stratford.
He will likely be familiar to anyone whose kids have participated in Stratford’s minor hockey and baseball systems as well. He used to coach and referee hockey and for the past 35 years has umpired baseball. Robinson was also an active member of the Stratford and District Agricultural Society for 12 years.
“I’ve seen where everybody is coming from on many different issues,” he said. “That’s why I feel I can be a good mayor for Stratford.”