Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
For all but two years since he retired from the Stratford Police Service in 2006, Graham Bunting has worked part-time for the Victim/Witness Assistance program under the auspices of the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The program provides information, assistance and support to victims and witnesses of crime to increase their understanding of, and participation in, the criminal court process.
Graham says a good portion of his work stems from instances of domestic violence and child abuse, and as a result he is often in contact with organizations like Optimism Place and the Emily Murphy Centre.
He says both shelters are struggling with the same issues, predominantly a lack of funding, but also a lack of access for their clients to important social assistance services including affordable housing.
They are concerns that he feels council needs to spend a little more time addressing.
“I’m very cognizant of the hot topics right now like the Cooper site and Market Square, but I strongly believe that we shouldn't be solely focused on those ‘big-ticket’ items.
"We can't forget the vulnerable in our society,” he adds, noting food banks are also taxed and struggling to meet demand.
It’s a discussion moving forward that Bunting hopes to be a part of as a member of city council. He’s a first-time candidate on the ballot in next month’s election.
Bunting moved to Stratford from Toronto, where he worked with the York Regional Police, in 1976. With the Stratford police, he started in general patrol and by his retirement after 30 years had worked his way up to a detective in the criminal investigation unit.
“No community is perfect, but I think we have an exemplary police service here,” he says.
The same year he moved to Stratford, Bunting took a position on the board for Stratford Youth Soccer. He’s never left, and over the years he’s also coached and refereed. He is also currently the president of the Stratford Soccer Association, which oversees all of the competitive leagues in the city.
Bunting says his campaign is about listening and learning. He’s started a Facebook page where he has posted a number of different local issues to better gauge people’s opinions. On the topic of employment, Bunting says people seem particularly concerned about job security and wages.
"These are all very real concerns. There are families out there who are going through tough times just keeping their heads above water,” he notes.
Bunting believes it’s up to council to establish and foster an environment of collaboration with community partners when trying to solve a problem.
"If we strive for consensus I think we can change things,” he says. “The collective will is a wonderful thing."