Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
It’s a four-way race for mayor in the City of Stratford, after recent provincial election candidate Matthew Murphy decided to file his nomination papers.
He almost didn’t, though.
Murphy is what you might consider a reluctant candidate. He put his name forward despite knowing full well that it’s “extraordinarily unlikely” that he will find himself sitting in office later this year. Why?
“Because I’m too honest to be successful in politics,” he says bluntly.
Murphy also differs from other candidates in the sense that he doesn’t really want to be mayor.
Yes, you read that correctly.
“If I win this position I will do it for four years and my primary goal will be to clean out city hall and all of its various manifestations, get rid of the dead weight, and then never run for any kind of office again.”
City hall is too busy with politicians who claim to be all about public service but are more concerned about their own image and fame, he says. For that reason, Murphy is an advocate for shorter terms and having a limit on years of service. Ideally, he says, every eligible citizen would have their name entered into draw every two years to select a new council.
But that’s not really among Murphy’s many campaign talking points. His concerns start and end with the city’s roughly $87 million debt – a large portion of which can be attributed to much-needed improvements to the sanitary and storm sewer system.
He says it’s crazy how some members of council will spin the city’s financial position as if it’s a positive, adding what’s even worse is how the city seems to have not learned from the mistakes it made prior to the 2002 flood that ended up costing the city millions in a class-action lawsuit filed by hundreds of affected residents.
“They weren’t focused on (the sanitary and storm sewer shortfalls before 2002) because they were bedazzled by all of these glamorous projects. Well they’ve done the same thing again. We haven’t paid into the future.
“There are still a huge amount of (infrastructure) upgrading to be done.”
Having such high debt might not hurt the rich and upper and middle class, Murphy says, but its creates “hell” for the poor.
“It puts so much pressure on the bottom level of existence,” he notes.
If taxes go up landlords will start charging more for rent, forcing people onto the streets, he fears. As well, the more desperate people get the more crime will go up, leading to greater policing costs.
The homeless will find shelter in a nearby city like Kitchener or London because there is nothing here for them.
“You become those cities’ problems. Perhaps that’s the goal,” he says.
Murphy is speaking from experience; he lives in community housing in Stratford and with busking being his only source of income, he has spent his share of nights in a shelter.
“I hate it,” he says of his position, “but it’s better than being dead from being homeless.”
Murphy is writing about his campaign at matthewmurphyformayor.blogspot.ca. He’s not short on big ideas. For instance, he would like the city to invest in plasma gasification, a process that converts organic matter into synthetic gas electricity. He says the city could offer the service, which could be paid for by issuing municipal bonds at a premium to other municipalities to help pay down the debt.
He would also like to see improved public transit between Stratford and surrounding rural communities, as well as to larger urban centres; a mobile unit or satellite office for the Stratford police to improve visibility in the community; and higher taxes for property owners of vacant land.