With just a few more days until voting in this municipal election closes (all ballots must be cast by 8 p.m. Monday), the Gazette reached out to each of the four mayoral and 28 council candidates and asked them to submit a final message to voters.
We hope their responses help lend some clarity to what is a very busy ballot here in Stratford.
An (i) denotes the candidate is an incumbent.
Dan Mathieson (i)
I believe Stratford deserves experienced leadership that acts on voters’ priorities. As Mayor, I will continue to work with council to ensure the prudent use of your tax dollars. I will leverage the relationships I have built with other levels of government and in the private sector, to bring about strong economic development that integrates our existing industries with new initiatives in emerging sectors.
Council must continue to pursue partnership opportunities for the expansion of affordable housing, and to maximize the benefits of the Stratford Campus. Stratford needs to complete the implementation of the Asset Management Plan, to ensure the long-term maintenance and operation of our infrastructure and facilities. This will allow for informed decisions on other projects, such as the continued revitalization of our downtown
(Editor's note: Murphy's comments were provided prior to Wednesday's shootings in Ottawa. As a result of the violence, he has withdrawn his candidacy. His name, however, will appear on the ballot).
The only ethical justification for the existence of any government is protection of the people, all of them, connected or disenfranchised. The old boys club that has run this city for decades does not believe in the above concept.
We need a majority of people on council who are not involved with that cabal. The best way to ensure that is to elect people to council who have not held office. Ever.
The Cooper site. In 1995 only one member of that council voted against the sale, at a loss. Four members of that council are seeking election, three incumbents. Total cost thus far? I started asking that back in March. Still no answer. Who benefits from that (cost figure) not being known? Guess.
I’m all about the citizens of Stratford and making sure that they get looked after, whether with bussing, seniors with places to stay, the homeless, and the kids. I want to start a kids’ committee and help develop a rec centre with an indoor skate park and a rock climbing wall. That’s what some of the kids are wanting. They need to get inside and get off the street and off of drugs. Our drug problem has to be looked at.
When it comes down to it, our debt is important, our infrastructure is really important. I see seniors tripping on sidewalks daily. Housing assistance for seniors has to come because there are no nursing homes if you want to stay in the community.
Martin Weatherall is dedicated to your Health and Safety and will: Expose Cooper Site true costs and wrongdoing, work on cost effective improvements to Stratford, provide a ‘Safe and Welcoming Community’, improve footpaths and drainage around Lake Victoria, improve pedestrian and traffic safety, and improve city parks, hold community health initiatives for fitness, weight loss and drug rehabilitation, promote our world class theatre, music and dining, revitalize Market Square, improve streets, improve access to the Rotary Complex, with a road through the fairgrounds, keep the Fairgrounds as a park, and be very fiscally responsible.
Please do your own research on WiFi and wireless dangers at these sites: www.bioinitiative.org and www.c4st.org/. Further information – Contact Martin Weatherall at email@example.com.
Brad Beatty (i)
It has been a great privilege to serve Stratford over the past four years and I would be very proud to serve you again in the next term. My work experience is in the not-for-profit sector, where I have worked for the past 16 years in assisting people to obtain employment in Stratford. This opportunity has provided me with a great insight and understanding of the issues surrounding employment and the importance of economic development.
During my time on council I have had the opportunity to serve numerous committees, all of which I have been able to provide a valuable contribution to. I am committed to Stratford and its vibrant future and ask that during our election week you vote for Brad Beatty.
I have four major concerns for Stratford: 1. Parking and the redevelopment of Market Square; 2. The Cooper Site must become a “tax payer” and not a “tax burden”; 3. Increases in Municipal taxes must match inflation; 4. Continuous sidewalks on all arterial roads (ie. Romeo, Lorne) are essential for public safety.
I bring a fresh approach to this council enhanced by my past experience and proven dedication. I have extensive experience as a former Councillor. In addition, my role as member and past chair of Stratford Police Service Board and membership on various provincial and municipal boards serves me well to represent you, the citizens of Stratford, and work on your behalf for the betterment of our City.
My full time job will be council, and the committees that support it. Budgetary caution and private partners will be needed as we move forward with the Quality of Life report, the GTR shops, the Market Square, and the Transportation bike and walking trails report. These are just some of the challenges we face in the next four years.
We need to continue creating good jobs to keep young families living and working in our city. And now our seniors are running out of facilities that offer dignity and safety, the waiting time is long and often the homes are out of town. The ones we have are great, but we need more very soon. Council as a team can succeed.
George Brown (i)
I have owned and operated successful real estate businesses in Stratford for 30 years, surviving recessions and good economical times, proving my ability to control expenditures. On Council over the past 11 years I have never been afraid to throw out new ideas to explore possibilities, save money, and improve our community. I have chaired Community services, Economic Development, and Protection to Person and Property to name a few.
My platform: Implement a single dispatching service for Police and Fire, multilevel parking downtown area, reasonable development around City Hall, to hold the line on taxes with no new borrowing, create more affordable housing, continue to press for safe alternate transportation (bike paths), and use any surplus money to resurface streets.
The citizens of Stratford deserve a council that’s able to make decisions for the betterment of our community, even when the issues are difficult or complicated. What we DO NOT NEED are more expensive out-of-town consultants or drawn-out studies.
Stratford is at a crossroads. Over the next four years decisions will be made on a variety of important issues that will greatly impact our city for decades to come. We need innovative and decisive thinking from a highly functional council. A council that is willing to represent everyone, to really listen, and to be truly engaged.
I invite the citizens of Stratford to visit me online at GrahamBunting.ca, and I hope to earn their vote for City Council.
The issues before us continue to be the fate of Market Square, the GTR/Cooper site, the health and wellness of all residents, and the delicate balance between our debt load and the maintenance of adequate services and infrastructure. I want feedback from citizens so that I can work as a consensus-builder on Council to thoughtfully plan to move forward. I have the experience to listen and bring together various voices and opinions. I will continue to do this work to protect and promote Stratford while balancing the needs of residents, businesses and tourists. Stratford, in my mind, is a wonderful gem. All citizens, including myself, want this gem to continue to shine.
Vote Lorraine Butson for Councillor.
Tom Clifford (i)
For 17 years I have been active on City Council serving as Chair of Finance this past term and past Chair of Festival Hydro as well as other boards and committees. I am President of a successful business, Brown Heating & Cooling.
As a Councilor, I have made myself available to constituents with concerns and have endeavored to get solutions to their problems. I believe it is vitally important that we keep Stratford affordable for everyone. I have continued to speak out on the need for making changes to the interest arbitration process to control the wages of police and firemen.
I want to continue to work toward the completion of the Cooper Site and Market Square projects to make them vibrant and financially sustainable parts of the downtown core.
Keith Culliton (i)
I’m not afraid to speak up on an issue and be counted. And I’m not afraid to ruffle a few feathers if necessary. The people of Stratford always know where I stand and they can count on me to voice their concerns with conviction. This is the way I am and I’ve found it’s a good way to get things done.
My many years of public service and my success in business have taught me a thing or two. I’ve never let Stratford down in the past and I don’t plan to in the future. I’m proud of my record and I’m asking you to place your confidence in me again. Learn more at keithculliton.com.
During my term as a Stratford city councillor, I chaired Public Works and was vice chair for Community Services, along with several other committees and boards.
In the last four years, I have served the community as chair of Heritage Stratford, president of the Stratford and District Agricultural Society, chair of the Sesquicentennial ad-hoc committee (Canada 150), vice-chair of Communities in Bloom, vice-chair of the Board of Directors of The Bard of Avon Housing Co-Op, and vice-chair of The Board of Park Management (Parks Board).
I know this City; I care about the future of our city; and I will work hard to serve all the people of Stratford as YOUR Stratford City Councillor.
What I have heard during the campaign is residents want to see the Cooper Site cleaned up, I would agree. There is a plan for the Market Square and I would like to see it get started. We also need to continue to pay down our debt. With help from the Provincial Government we need to secure more affordable housing for low income families. The Local Community Food Centre is doing outstanding work for Stratford citizens and we need to continue to support them.
On my personal priority list, I would like to see an increase in quality employment opportunities for our returning graduates, in addition to providing affordable sports for our children.
Bonnie Henderson (i)
I’m Bonnie Henderson seeking re-election for Stratford City Council. I would like to continue to work on making our city more accessible, addressing the issue of affordable housing, having more bike lanes, sidewalks on every street so they are more pedestrian friendly, to see the development of the Cooper Site and Market Square and make communications clearer for all.
I have been honoured to work for you, the citizens of Stratford, and need your vote to continue to raise your issues at council.
Stratford is a wonderful place to live and work and raise a family but I believe by working together, we can continue to make it even better! Please vote Bonnie the week of Oct 20th – 27th.
What sets me apart from other candidates is my well rounded approach to issues. I have the knowledge from a business perspective to look at how we spend money and be fiscally responsible.
I have a real estate background to know the City of Stratford and what we should be doing in developing our residential neighbourhoods.
I have a mortgage background to know costs associated with borrowing and finally the volunteer experience to know and listen to what the residents of the City of Stratford want. Vote John Hotson for city council.
I believe that my land development and municipal experience can be an immense value to Stratford City Council. In addition to planning, I have sat on a partnership committee with the Region of Waterloo and the University of Waterloo exploring Green Energy, and was a part of the Waterloo LPGA golf tournament organizing committee. Beyond the City of Waterloo, I have also worked for the Grand River Conservation Authority and Scotiabank.
I have a lot to offer and would love to work with a Council comprised of people who have a variety of different backgrounds and want to make collaborative decisions. Above all, please vote, ask questions, get to know your candidates, and become involved. Council represents you.
I look forward to bringing new ideas and energy to the table. More than specific positions, I hope to be seen as a person of integrity who can evaluate opportunities according to whether or not they are sustainable.
I was born and raised in Stratford and I have played an active role in our community volunteering with many organizations including Big Brothers, Fencing Club of Stratford, and the Hog Jog. I have 25 years’ experience in the Information Technology & business sectors.
I am prepared to work hard and to come to the table informed and ready to debate.
In 2003 our debt stood at 11 million dollars. Today it is 83 million dollars or about $6,000 per household. In 2012 BMA consulting ranked
96 Ontario communities in terms of basic financial health. We ranked 95th out of 96. I do not want to leave a massive debt for the next generation of taxpayers. In order to achieve a strong financial future, we need a council that is not afraid to make tough decisions between “need to have spending” and “would like to have spending.”
We are already one of the highest taxed cities our size in Ontario, so we can’t tax ourselves out of this situation. That leaves spending efficiently and responsibly as our only solution. If you agree, vote Larry LaBelle for council.
I’m a life-long resident of Stratford, an accountant for 40 years, and a municipal auditor for about 30 years. I will be retiring at the end of this year, and will have the time and the expertise to contribute to the City.
There are a number of worthwhile projects vying for attention and financing from the City, but our overriding concern has to be our high public debt of $88 million. Our total revenue is $102 million. The City is paying down this debt by about $5 million per year. We have to avoid adding to this debt load, while maintaining and enhancing our services.
I believe my background will be useful to the City in the difficult years ahead.
Frank Mark (i)
Frank Mark is a lifelong resident of Stratford with a keen interest in serving the community for another term on City Council.
He is married to Gwen and they have two grown children and four grandchildren. He has served on City Council for seven terms, two of them as Deputy Mayor.
With his 43 years of background in various roles in finance and administration, he offers his past experience and proven dedication to the citizens of Stratford. His focus as always, will be on Economic Development and Fiscal Responsibility. His strong work ethic and willingness to listen and learn, will help him make well informed decisions that are in the best interests of the citizens of Stratford for today as well as into the future.
Kerry McManus (i)
This term, I chaired the Public Works Subcommittee, Energy & Environment and the Active Transportation Advisory Committees. I was vice-chair of Social Services and Festival Hydro Services Inc. I celebrated successes and identified weaknesses to address needs across all sectors. I invited community input, asked tough questions and offered alternate solutions.
As a Councillor, I weigh decisions through the filter of what is best for the community and what is consistent with environmental excellence, economic sustainability, and social justice.
Next term, I want to increase affordable housing; improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians; divert more organic waste; and develop plans for Public Transit and the heart of the City.
Thanks for your support. For more information, visit www.kerrymcmanus.com. Twitter @kerrymcmanus
It’s time for a change.
In 2010 we had a derelict Cooper Site, a plan for Market square (already four years old), a debt in the $90M range, transit issues, parking problems, and stress on affordable housing. In 2014 what has changed? Yes, these issues take time, but what frustrates citizens is the pace. There has been little movement over the past four years.
It is time for fresh faces, fresh ideas, and a new generation of Councillors to lead Stratford into the future. Creative problem solving, critical thinking, and meaningful collaboration are going to be necessary moving forward. Vote Scott Mitchell.
Stratford is a great place to live. But it could be better. From the inflated assets promoted by city hall and massive debt, to the inability to provide 7 day a week bus service, there is a definite need for change. Additional educational and recreational opportunities, as well as better allocation of resources would be an improvement for all residents.
Increased sustainability and larger natural areas would ensure Stratford’s future for generations to come. On October 27, please vote for progressive change. Thank you for your time.
I have lived and worked in Stratford for 27 years. In that time I have raised two sons and a daughter and owned and operated Acorn Hardwood Flooring. I would like to show my gratitude to the community by running and being elected to Stratford City Council.
People are voicing their concerns more than ever, especially how our property taxes are being spent. Our taxes are high, and yet we are being asked to subsidize street improvements. That’s one example I would be concerned with if elected. I am not interested in giving an opinion on the Targeted Topics right now. Each and every one of them need careful consideration as to what is real and needed versus a pipedream. Allow me the opportunity to spend you tax money as if it were my own.
The world is changing and so must Stratford. Our city does not lack potential or creativity, but I’ve heard it said that we all have our own agenda and often stand in each other’s way. If we are serious about growth and repairing what’s broken then we need to work together.
Council must provide a stronger foundation and clearer guidelines for our citizens to use that will provide them with the best chances for success. There are no crystal balls, but I know how to work hard, build strategic plans, and spend tax dollars wisely. My global knowledge of technology may also come in handy. Where we go from here is up to you - the voter.
Martin Ritsma (i)
I have been honoured to represent you as a first time councillor this term. I offer to Stratford citizens my life and work experience and my community service experience.
I have learned a great deal about local government these past four years. I would continue to listen and bring your concerns to Council, not only with respect to the major issues such as the Cooper Site and Market Square but the everyday issues that impact you. I would continue to remain watchful of the City debt and endeavour to ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely while addressing the needs of Stratford.
I am passionate about Stratford and its citizens and look forward to your support for a second term.
I have one main priority, and that is to represent you. My name is Cody Sebben. I currently work supporting people living with brain injuries as a rehabilitation counsellor. I have personally knocked on over 3,000 doors because I want to best represent you when it comes to the issues that affect you day-to-day. I will enter council with enthusiasm and run with each of your issues as if it were my own. Council needs to work harder to stretch Stratford’s limited budget.
I offer creative ideas and innovative thinking to help resolve long-standing issues such as Market Square and the Cooper site. Stratford needs buses to run on Sundays. I have a plan to add smaller buses to make this a reality. I have the ideas and enthusiasm to get Stratford and council working for you.
Karen Smythe (i)
My goal is to work with the rest of council to make the best decisions for the city of Stratford. As the owner of a small business for several years, I have a strong understanding of what it takes to keep the finances in order and the need for long term planning.
My priorities for the city is to continue with the needed infrastructure, responsible fiscal plan that does not burden the taxpayers with new debt or user fees, job creation, affordable housing, and to see the completion of existing projects. What Stratford needs and what Stratford can afford!
Being a community driven person and committed to Stratford, as a citizen I have volunteered for several years and served as your councillor for the past eight years. We must address the needs of all citizens, I care and want to hear your concerns.
This municipal campaign has been a wonderful experience. The level of engagement from citizens and the unique perspective each person brings to the issues have been remarkable. If elected to City Council I would continue these conversations so that I can be an accessible and accountable voice for everyone. I would make informed decisions, based on the best interest of our community and would move projects forward.
My vision for making Stratford a more liveable city addresses: accessibility, economic development focused on diversification and good corporate citizenship, efficient and effective public transit, promotion of active transportation, environmental stewardship, fiscal responsibility, poverty reduction, functional and beautiful public spaces, timely brownfield redevelopment and any policies that ensure all of our citizens thrive.
It is great to speak to so many people about why they love Stratford, their concerns, and why they are so engaged. Many have come through my store just to talk about these things. Stratford’s residents want clear decisions and real progress, not just observations and discussions. And I appreciate the high level of conversation among theCouncil candidates.
As a downtown business owner, I will watch out for the City’s fiscal health and planning, including Market Square and the Cooper site. As a parent, I’ll plan for Stratford’s environmental sustainability and economic drive. As a youth employer, I will look out for the creative needs of Stratford’s youth. My commitment is, “Be Open, Stay Positive, Find Answers.”
Hello voters and every one else. It’s important to vote even if you have come to believe otherwise, and the less you make the more important it is.
I cannot promise you anything but to try and do my best for you and the community we live in. I like to stay positive and smell the roses when possible. Have a great week and have fun selecting your people!