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Sheri Patterson has some specialized skills that she thinks will make her an asset to Stratford council.
She was inspired to enter the race for a seat after she noticed a $7.8 million annual infrastructure funding deficit identified in the city's asset management plan.
"In a couple of years, it's going to become unmanageable," she says. "We need some serious creative thinking to help rectify this."
Patterson was born and raised in Stratford. She moved her family back to the city nine years ago when she and her husband found job opportunities in the area.
Currently, Patterson is a technical tax advisor for Deloitte in Kitchener.
"I'm not an accountant," she clarifies. "I work with CFOs (chief financial officers) to help them understand their numbers."
Patterson thinks her history in asset management planning can help the Festival City ensure it doesn't mire itself in debt. The bottom line, she says, trumps any other issue at this point.
"There's not a lot of room for new developments or for fixing social services until the debt is under control," she says. "As much as I'd like to see Market Square become a place for tourists and locals, we just can't focus on that right now."
As for the Cooper site, she'd like to see it used economically as a way to bring money into the city. Whether via education, shopping, or tourism, though, she'd need to see a return on investment.
"We're not in a fiscal position to keep the building right now," she says. "But we can't afford to misuse the property, either. That's prime real estate."
Her comments regarding an economic boost isn't just talk, either. Patterson is bringing some real ideas for attracting new business to Stratford. She currently sits on the Stratford Arts Media Board, an organization seeking to bring film development companies to the Stratford area.
"We've got no presence in that industry right now," she says. "It should help the economy, especially in the realm of digital media, which is what the university is focussing on right now."
Patterson, who is a computer scientist by trade, says she has a greater understanding than most in dealing with the technology field.
"I visit with a hundred companies a year and get to see what they're working on," she says.
An insider on council to help guide the city through its tech-based strategies is key, she says, given the volatile nature of the tech industry which, though potentially profitable, "can be very costly if you make the wrong decisions."
And cost is not something Patterson wants to see the city incur more off.
"We have to be fiscally responsible," she says. "I'm terribly worried it'll be mismanaged, at which point it can easily get out of control."