Business owner throws hat into ring
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Aug 28, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Business owner throws hat into ring

Stratford Gazette

Jeff Heuchert

Jeff Walsh is proud to play a part in Stratford's ongoing reinvention as a digital technology centre, even somewhat amazed.

His downtown business, The Compudoc, has participated in some of the city's smart tech initiatives including its residential and mobile Wi-Fi Internet service, known as Switch, Festival Hydro's LED municipal lighting project, and the beta for California-based LeoNovus' web-connected TV platform.

"I was actually flabbergasted that they asked me to be involved in the first place, because I was so new to Stratford," he says now. His store opened in the bottom floor of Festival Square in the mid 2000s as a retail and service centre, and in 2011 became an authorized Apple dealer, opening a second retail location right up the stairs at the corner of Downie and Ontario streets.

His experiences working on those projects showed Walsh what can happen when the talents of many are pooled together to meet a common objective. It's a concept he hopes to practice over the next four years if given the chance.

Walsh filed his nomination papers for a seat on Stratford city council last week. His commitment if elected in October's municipal election: "Be open, stay positive, and find answers." His focus is on the city's fiscal health. He says it takes all parts of the local economy coming together to create a sustainable community.

He notes it would be unfair of him to criticize the current crop of councillors since he's on the outside looking in, and is not privy to all the same information they have. Not that he feels there's much to be critical about anyway.

"I'm proud of this city. I think it's one of the greatest cities in the world. We have the lowest unemployment in the province, we have a vibrant downtown, people from every walk of life in Stratford with every opportunity.

"I think the mayor and council have done a good job of taking care of us."

Of course there are issues he knows need to be resolved. He says he's excited to proceed with redevelopment on the Cooper site, though he appreciates there are many competing ideas of what that should look like that need to be worked out first.

"It's one of the greatest opportunities the city has," he says of the land holding the former railway shops, which he suggests has become a "blight" on the downtown.

He would also like to see Market Square converted into a space where people like to congregate, something he says he experiences when visiting the Sunday Slow Food Market there.

Walsh says he started thinking about running for council four years ago, but instead wanted to focus on raising his family and growing his business.

"The people of Stratford have been very supportive over the years," he notes, "and I want to give back to our community."

And there's one other thing Walsh wants people to know about him, that's hardly a surprise to those who already do: he's not one to mince words when he feels passionately about something.

"I don't beat around the bush. I have opinions on things and I'm fairly straight forward about them," he says.

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