Will a speech scheduled to be delivered tomorrow morning (Thursday, Sept. 11) at around 8 a.m. at the Stone Willow Inn have added significance?
Will it simply be another advisory to businesspeople — many of them from Stratford (more on that later) — about the need to build up reserve funds in advance of soon-to-be-upon-us infrastructure needs in St. Marys, as has been the case for two consecutive Septembers? Or will it, by tremendous contrast, be Mayor Steve Grose’s third and final address to the annual St. Marys Mayor’s Breakfast, put on by the Stratford and Area Chamber of Commerce and hosted by the east-end hotel and restaurant.
The full answer to these questions won’t be known, of course, until the night of the Oct. 27 municipal election. But, as Mayor Grose prepares his third Mayor’s Breakfast address, you can be fairly certain he isn’t falling back once again on his old, tried-and-true joke about the choice of three doors for the recently-passed-on businessman, or planning on telling everyone things are fine and dandy at Town Hall.
His speech will be serious, and it will most likely offer the opinion that his work at securing a long-term financial stability for the town is only partly done. He needs more than a single term to fully follow through on the vision he began setting out almost four years ago.
Barring any final-week surprises, the race for Mayor is set in St. Marys. Al Strathdee, who has stood at public meetings and made statements in the media supporting the spending of money now on some crucial projects, has established a counterpoint to Grose’s four-years-running, money-into-reserves mantra.
And that’s not the only topic about which the two men disagree. Both with ties to the Kinsmen Club, both born-and-bred St. Marysites, these guys have moved in similar circles for years. Strathdee’s decision to challenge the incumbent has set up a much-anticipated race for the Oct. 27 chequered flag.
Tomorrow’s Mayor’s Breakfast marks the real beginning of the drama. And it will disappointing if, as mentioned earlier, most of the audience is filled with Stratford-based businesspeople.
Sure, there’s a cost for breakfast and hearing Grose’s speech, but it’s not outrageous. Sure, the Chamber of Commerce has Festival City roots. But they’re reaching out, and going to tomorrow’s event in no way ties you to attending weekly meetings out of town, or channeling money north along Highway 7.
It’s all about networking, which is generally a positive thing. Get to know your neighbours, share stories of business struggles. Maybe some of them will refer visitors to their businesses to St. Marys, if and when appropriate.
And most of all, if it can still be arranged, come to tomorrow’s Mayor’s Breakfast to witness the true commencement of this year’s campaign.