Chet Greason email@example.com
There’s one bragging point that incumbent Coun. Keith Culliton knows he’s got cornered that no one else running for Council this year can claim.
“I may not be the youngest candidate,” he admits. “But I’m the most experienced.”
Culliton began his career of public service sitting on boards for the separate school system and Stratford’s PUC. Along with his 18-year career as a councillor, he also served two terms as Stratford’s mayor.
“Put it all together, I’ve been around for 40 years,” he said.
In an interview on Monday, the Stratford Gazette asked Culliton whether there was business left undone following this latest term.
“Certainly, there’s things left to clean up that have me concerned,” he said, citing the development of both Market Square and the Cooper site.
“I thought we’d do it this term, but I’ll take another crack at it and see if we can get through it this time.”
He said both developments are “a must.”
“With the Cooper site, we’ve had tremendous slowdowns. A former owner keeps coming forward and taking us to court,” he said. “Personally, I think the building should be torn down, but if it’s possible that it can be saved, then I’m glad to see people coming forward with ideas that council can deal with.
“With Market Square, we’ve got plans from a number of architects. I think the time has come to get it done, and I’m going to help Council to do that.”
Culliton added that, whatever is decided on Market Square, it has to be in the best interest of the downtown merchants.
“They’ve faced a lot of extra competition over the last 20 years,” he says. “If we do something to improve Market Square, it’s got to be to their advantage.”
Culliton said there are a number of feathers in the cap of the previous council, among them the RBC data centre, the University of Waterloo’s Stratford campus, the Wright Business Park, and the reduction of the city’s debt load.
“But there’s still more work to be done,” he said.
Specifically, though he’s pleased with the storm sewer work the city has completed thus far, there’s still a long stretch needing improvement beneath Queen Street. After that’s finished, Culliton said the city will be done with big infrastructure overhauls, “but there’s always going to be small jobs to be done.”
“Another thing we were smart enough to do was to establish an economic development committee,” he says, adding it’s an idea that worked well in the past.
“With time and hard work, they brought some great industries to the city. I support that idea 1,000 per cent.”
Lastly, he feels strongly about holding the line on property taxes and continuing to pay down the city’s debt.
“I’m not always right, but I’m not always wrong, either. I speak up and tell the other councillors if I disagree with them,” said Culliton. “I’ve served the citizens of Stratford for a long time… I’ve seen what’s worked, and what didn’t work.
“I’m not against new ideas, and I strongly believe that you get the best results when you listen.”