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Saint John 2012 Municipal Election – Candidate’s Email Answers

You have got to love Social Media  – especially when it comes to election time.

Because of it, I’ve seen some wonderful examples of people engaging with candidates to get answers to the questions that matter to them.

The best part is when they share this information to help others make their decision!

One great example is Sarah Ingalls (@s_ingalls), a fellow Ward 4 citizen, who reached out to all Saint John candidates to ask her questions:

Dear candidates,

This is a very crucial time in Saint John.  This city needs a strong council who will realize what the real issues are and attack them with solutions.

I’ve prepared a list of questions on issues that affect our family.  I am hoping for lots of great answers that will help inform voters.  I will be sharing these with friends and neighbors.

1.What are your top two priorities?

2.What is your professional background and training?

3.What is your volunteer experience?

4.What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

5.Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

6.What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

7.What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

8.Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

Thank you for your time and good luck.

Sarah has been sharing the responses from each candidate, which I have added below (and I will keep adding any new ones that come in).

On behalf of everyone in Saint John, Sarah – you rock!

Looking for a list of candidates running in Saint John?

Below are the answers she has received (so far):

 

Mayoral Candidates

Matthew Thompson:

Hello Sarah: Please find below the answers to your questions. Thank you for taking such an initiative in this election. I commend you on it.
Tomorrow is looking great!

Matthew Thompson
Candidate for Mayor, City of Saint John

1.What are your top two priorities?

My first priority is fiscal sustainability. I believe we must deal with the current fiscal imbalance and all areas that are attributing to it. It is vitally important to look at the city as a business. In doing so, we will be able to fashion a multi-year business plan to address ongoing debt issues, pension problems, and city services. We can also provide strategic aggressive investment for growth in the areas of business, industry, sciences, technology, tourism, small business etc. We must move the city into a business mindset. By doing this we make it profitable and provide the capital to properly invest and grow the city. To reach this, we must cap spending on frivolous projects and fully assess everything we do. It mean tightening the purse strings for a while and, in doing so, making some hard choices. But together we can make this happen.  Secondly, with everything in me, I believe we must govern this city with a new model. The days of political grandstanding, personal agendas and singular ideas must and has to come to an end. The city of Saint John is much more than a political platform. It is, at its very essence a business. To be successful means that we have to work together as a team. Successful and profitable companies work together, uplift, edify and encourage each other. They have positive discussions and work to cast a vision that all support and believe in.

We have some major decisions to make over the next four years. Pension, staffing, services, clean and safe drinking water, investments, city growth, poverty reduction, environment and infrastructure (just to name a few) are issues that will require men and women to work together for the common good of the city. They need to lead and make decisions that will positively impact and direct us into a bright future. This is a must. Once we can work from a business model and re direct the entire staff to do so, we will accomplish great things and direct the city to a profitable future. We can also establish funding for all current services and new services providing a much better place for us to call home.

2.What is your professional background and training?

I have served 8 years as an ordained minister, both full and part time. I have lead churches from 40 people to over 4,000. I have a bachelors of theology. I have also attended several universities to obtain training in business, finance,entrepreneurship, and leadership. I currently run a successful construction company as well as a successful media company.( For over 4 years) I have been involved in television and radio broadcasting as an on air host and production.

3.What is your volunteer experience?

Extensive. As a minister, I have covered a vast area in regards to helping the community. I have been heavily involved in youth counselling and mentor-ship and an active certified crisis and suicide prevention councillor. I have also worked with several soup kitchens and outreach programs in various cities. Additionally, I have aided in societal integration teacher for new immigrants as well as various community neighbourhood clean up groups. I have also helped in the past, with the RCMP, in the areas of drug and alcohol prevention initiatives for teens.

4.What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

The state of what was once the pride of Saint John, our transit system, is deeply disturbing. For a city to be effective, it must place transit as an important portfolio within its business model. I have talked to: Many seniors who have just decided to stay home, Single parents (who rely on transit to get them around) are feeling let down by the city, and  Students (who are finding themselves late for school) are saying the cuts to transit is another nail in the coffin for them and just another reason to leave.

We should be ashamed of what we have let it become. But there is still hope! And much of it. If we can rework the models for funding through dealing with the current issues at hand and running our city as a profitable business, we will once again be able to reinvest in the system. We must allow it to run as a business within a business and limit the amount of micromanaging done while still maintaining high standards of accountability. It is a must for our city to provide this integral service. It hurts our people, our way of life, and the city’s growth because of the way others perceive us as a viable place to invest and relocate to.

5.Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

I am relearning after all the recent cuts. I do personally use it from time to time, however, my wife and young son use it much more than I.

6.What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

The pension, in its current state, is not sustainable. That is something we all understand. It, in itself, is an issue that needs to be acted upon immediately by the new council. I am not a pension expert by any means. What I do know from seeking advice on this issue from qualified pension experts is the following:

  • We need to reconsider pension models that are in use, We need to move from having staff preparing these models and seek outside experts to draft a plan that is both financial feasible and ultimately sustainable,
  • These models must be developed by experts and take into consideration the impacts to the tax payers and the pension recipients,
  • We need to petition the Province to give Saint John direct control over the pension plan, and decisions,
  • We must consider transitioning from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.
  • The job at hand with the pension issue is a complicated one. It will require the entire cooperation of the mayor and council to work together with experts to provide the best possible outcome for both tax payers and the pensioners.

7.What do you see as Ward 4′s biggest issues?

I have had the privilege to speak to some of Ward 4’s residents. The common issues, aside from the big 3, are: Clean water, better access to city services, investment in recreation, and the flooding issues.

8.Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

Yes. It is crucial that our city address theses issues and do any necessary restructuring of staff. As a business owner, I must always be looking at and assessing my staff to make sure that I receive the best from them as possible. Sometimes, this leads to hard decisions. Never the less, to run a successful and profitable company, you have to make those decisions. Currently, there is a lot of room for improvement and I am willing to do all that it takes to see that we provide the best service to our city in the best way and for the best cost.

 

Mel Norton:

Question 1, top two priorities:

1.      Fiscal Responsibility – Fixing the pension plan once and for all; and, aligning spending with the priorities of our people. Few quality of life investments can be undertaken until we fix the pension.

2.       Clean, safe water – Work with all levels of government to improve our water quality. This calls on us to work as a team both at the Council table and with our Provincial and Federal counterparts given the $170-200 million cost to bring Saint John a water treatment plant, pipes to carry the water and meters to monitor consumption.

Question 2, professional training and background:

Graduate of Saint John High School (1992); UNB Saint John (1996); law degree from UNB (1999); and called to the New Brunswick Bar in 2000. Self-employed as a partner with law firm Lawson Creamer (practicing labour & employment law, construction litigation and debtor-creditor law) and a Reserve Legal Officer with the Canadian Forces.  Past instructor of Labour Law at UNBSJ’s Faculty of Business and Ward 3 Councillor since the by-election of December 2010.

Question 3, volunteer experience:

Currently a volunteer on the board of the Abbey St. Andrew (mixed income housing project at the corner of Duke and Charlotte, West Side Police and Community Together (Westside PACT), and the Saint John Regional Library board. Past service has included: Co-Chair of All-American Soap Box Derby in Saint John (in support of PALS), Festival by the Sea, the Saint John Theatre Company, Fundy Food Festival, FUSION, BCAPI (PALS), Saint John Governance System Citizens Committee (Committee on the Ward System), Chair of the Young Lawyers Section of the New Brunswick Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, Secretary of the Labour & Employment Section of the New Brunswick Branch of the Canadian Bar Association

Question 4, thoughts on transit situation:

Even before the recent cutbacks by the Transit Commission, I was hearing from citizens that they were not happy with transit services.  Routes and schedules must be better aligned to serve the people that rely on transit, and to encourage more people to use it. The Transit Commission must do a better job aligning its services, and its budget to better serve its people. It can do this, in part, by collecting better data about riders and their needs.

Question 5, are you familiar with bus system and have you used it on a regular basis:

As a student in Saint John and Fredericton I used the bus daily. After finishing university and moving back to Saint John I chose an apartment within walking distance of my work and used the bus to travel further afield (the malls and groceries). Today I don’t use the bus. I still live in proximity of work so I walk. But I do know accessible transportation whether it is public transportation or community connectivity through walking trails and bike trails is important to the vitality of our neighbourhoods, our sustainability and to the quality of life our people.

Question 6,  what is a realistic solution to the pension plan?

Short Term: Finish working with the Superintendant of Pensions to have the current reforms passed by the New Brunswick legislature.

Long Term: Change the way these kind of benefits are provide, i.e. RRSP matching program or defined contribution plan (not a defined benefit plan).

Question 7, what do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

Generally, the issues that impact Ward 4 are the same issues that all Saint Johners face: the pension issue, clean & safe water, good roads and value for taxpayers dollars. More specifically the issues are neighbourhood dependant. At a high level, Ward 4 is divided into the more densely populated subdivisions (think of the subdivisions in Champlain Heights and those along Loch Lomond) and the much more rural and self-reliant parts of Ward 4 towards the airport and along the Red Head Road. Each neighbourhood has its own concerns. In the more dense subdivisions issues with road maintenance, traffic volumes within subdivisions and access to recreation are the main issues I hear. In the more rural areas of the Ward the concerns include erosion, gravel pit development and the speed by which City services (snow plowing as an example) reach them.

Question 8, are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

Absolutely. We are facing tough times and we need to make tough decisions. The time is now to change how we do things, and rebuild our city and our spending to align with the priorities of our taxpayers and our citizens. However, it should be remembered that addressing such issues can only be done with the whole of council acting in as a unified team.

 

Ivan Court:

Hi Sarah,

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questions.

1. What are your two priorities?

Safe Clean Drinking Water and finding an affordable and sustainable solution to the Pension Plan are my two priorities.

MP Weston and MLA Holder have already indicated that Safe Clean Drinking Water is going to happen. –  It is a matter of when. We are working with our funding partners the federal and the provincial governments to determine a time line for completion.

The Provincial government and only the provincial government can make amendments to our pension plan. We have worked with the Office of the Superintendent of Pensions and the Department of Justice to find both an affordable and sustainable solution to the Pension Plan. The requested legislative and regulatory changes will be presented to the Legislative Assembly for their approval.

2. What is your professional background and training?

   Education:

Ø  Graduate Saint Malachy’s Memorial High School

Ø   BA and B Ed from Saint Thomas University.

Ø   M Ed from the University of New Brunswick.

Ø  Developed and Implemented Holocaust Remembrance Outreach Kit  K-12 for Jewish Community

Ø  Developed and Implemented Land Mine Curriculum for Canadian Red Cross

Ø  Teacher 33 years

Training:

   National & Provincial

Ø  President of the Canadian Association of Police Boards

Ø  Chair of the CAPB (Canadian Association of Police Board)’s Finance Committee

Ø  CAPB’s Representative to the Police Sector Council of Canada

Ø  Federation of Canadian municipalities (FCM) Public Safety

Ø  FCM Finance and Intergovernmental Affairs

Ø  Past President of the Cities of New Brunswick

Ø  Board of Director Atlantic Mayors’ Congress

Ø  Member South Central Forestry Group

Ø  Director New Brunswick Capital Commission

Ø  Chaired Coalition for the  Retention of  New Brunswick Blood Service Facility in Saint John

Municipal

Ø  Served as Past President Cities of New Brunswick, First and Second Vice President and Treasurer 

Ø  14 years of municipal experience

Ø  Chair of the Pension Board

Ø  10 years Vice President Saint John Industrial Parks

Ø  14 years Board Member Saint John Police Commission

Ø   8 years Board Member Saint John Ability Committee

Ø  Board Member Westside PACT

Ø  Enterprise Saint John

Ø  Greater Saint John Community Loan Fund

Ø  Chair Red Friday Rally to Support our Troop

Ø  Chair Rockwood Park Advisory Board

3. What is your volunteer experience?

In addition to the volunteer service listed in my answer to question two, I devoted 33 years to the community as a volunteer coach at the junior and high school levels. I have also been involved in coaching minor baseball and hockey in the Lancaster minor system. I served as President of the Saint John Figure Skating Club; I also served as Chair of Lancaster Minor Baseball Tag Day. I have been a health care advocate and the past President of the Friends of St. Joseph Hospital.

4. What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

Bus transportation was a daily reality for me when I was a youth. I grew up in three of our priority neighbourhoods. Other than walking, buses were our sole means of transportation.

So many citizens rely on public transportation as their primary mode of travel to and from work. That is why I voted against the budget that resulted in cuts to the service. I support a review of the services so we can maximize any efficiency that can be found in an effort to increase our ridership and protect the sustainability of all routes. There is a need for enhancement of our bus service and I am committed to do just that.

5. Yes I am aware of the bus system and the challenges we face to deliver the service. I have utilized the buses in all areas of the city. During my 20 years of teaching Summer School I used the bus as my primary source of transportation every day.

6. The Pension Plan needs reform.  As I mentioned in my answer to question one, the Province of New Brunswick and only the Province of New Brunswick can amend the Saint John Pension Plan. We are requesting no money from the province; rather, we are seeking legislative and regulatory reform that will make the pension plan both affordable and sustainable. Over the last 2 1/2 years we have worked with the Superintendent of Pensions and the Department of Justice on the necessary legislation that will be introduced into the Legislative Assembly. We have followed their direction so that when the legislation is presented it will receive approval. The Pension Plan will be solved. There is no other option. Define contributions and RRSPs alone will not correct the plan.

7.  What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

The needs in the Ward 4 would vary depending on where you live. If you lived in Glen Falls the number one concern could be the protection of property from flooding. We have enhanced our service and maintenance schedule in Glen Falls to lessen the impact on flooding. Other concerns in the Ward would include, traffic congestion, the need for recreational facilities and pits and quarries. Traffic calming measures are being introduced to address the concerns of residents in all areas of the city, for the protection of all of our residents and their families. Upon completion, “The Rez Project” will be a destination point for individuals and families seeking outside recreation opportunities. The Exhibition Park Field House is a facility that will have a positive impact on Ward 4 and the entire city. For others, Safe Clean Drinking Water remains their primary concern. I welcome the opportunity to meet, listen and discuss the priorities with the residents in Ward 4.

Ivan

 

At-Large Candidates

Mike Sheppard:

My two top priorities are to grow the city with bringing business to the city and to get funding back to the services that have lost it . Depending on the Pension reform bill in legislation now , this may or may not free up this money for funding . Frivalous spending has to stop .

I work at Canada Post , CUPW Union Rep . I have been with Canada Post for 14 years .

I am married , two children . I coach hockey for Saint John Minor Hockey and Saint john little league baseball .

Overspending on a bus station that was way over priced has lead to the layoffs and service problems . I think transit routes to the outlying areas should be cut first . Service the people of Saint John first .

Road maintenance and raising funds for leisure services are some top priorities for Ward 4 , We have to let children play sports , prices for registration are going to rise .

Thanks for raising these questions , hopefully I answered some of the questions you asked .

Thanks,
Mike Sheppard

 

Shelley Rinehart:

1.What are your top two priorities?

Fiscal sustainability which includes addressing debt issues as well as strategic investment for growth. In my mind, it is about creating a plan that considers all of the issues facing us, understanding their impacts on Saint John and its citizens and then focussing on solutions to those issues.

2.What is your professional background and training?

I am employed with UNB Saint John as a Professor of Marketing in the Faculty of Business and have served in a number of leadership roles at UNB including the Dean of the Faculty of Business and Director of one of our research centres. I graduated from Saint John High School and then moved on to UNB Saint John to receive a Bachelor of Arts with honours in psychology, to UNB Fredericton for a Masters in Business Administration, and finally to the University of Oklahoma where I completed my Doctor of Philosophy (PHD) in Business. I consider myself to be a lifelong learner. I continue to study for my Masters in Adult Education through UNB Fredericton and have completed a variety of professional development programs and workshops dealing with leadership and management skills. Some of my achievements include twice nominated for the Canada’s Top 40 under 40, recognized as one of ten “People Powering the New Economy” from Atlantic Progress Magazine and twice nominated for UNB Excellence in Teaching Allen P. Stuart Award. (I have attached a full excerpt from my C.V. if you would like more detail)

3.What is your volunteer experience?

I believe in giving back to my community. I currently work with the Saint John YMCA as a member of the Board of Directors, 2nd Vice Chair of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Red Triangle Awards Dinner. I also sit as a Committee Member with Alternative Measures, act as a billet family and post-secondary education co-ordinator/consultant for the Saint John Seadogs, sit on the Board of Early Literacy Friends, and sit on the UNB Alumni Bridge Network. Recently I was appointed by the Province to represent New Brunswick on the Board of CLEER (Centre for Legislative and Environmental Research) with the Energy Council. I have also served on the Boards of Canadian Mental Health Association, Saint John Board of Trade, Cherry Brook Zoo, Enterprise Saint John, Fundy Linen, Aids Saint John and the Board of Governors for the Junior Achievement New Brunswick Hall of Fame Dinner. (I have attached a full excerpt from my CV if you would like more detail)

4.What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

Transportation infrastructure, including public transit and roads, is critical for a sustainable community. I know that the recent cuts made to transit service in Greater Saint John have affected many people, both in their professional and social lives. These cuts are felt particularly hard by seniors and those living on fixed incomes who rely on public transit as their only means of transportation. I do not want to make promises that I can’t keep. Before making any statement about the future of bus service in Saint John, I would want to look at all of the numbers in relation to Saint John Transit and work with that information to see if there is a model that can continue to serve the needs of residents in Greater Saint John while at the same time ensuring that the service is financially sustainable now and for years to come.

5.Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

I am familiar with the system. As a child I used it regularly with my grandmother (she did not drive) and of course my student are heavy users of the system. Today I am not a regular user of public transit, although I have used it on occasion.

6.What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

The pension as it currently stands is not sustainable and is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. I am not a pension expert. City officials need to consider alternate pension models. These models need to be developed by experts and part of the consideration must include the impacts of the alternatives on the tax payers and on the pension recipients. This will not be an easy process and is not something that will be accomplished in a short period of time. However, we need to focus our efforts on a strategy of financial sustainability for Saint John.

7.What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

While I understand that, due to demographic and socio-economic differences each Ward will have a slightly different set of issues, I believe that we need to address our fiscal issues before we can move down our list of priorities. Before we can move forward we need to have a focussed effort to reduce our debt and grow our revenue base. We need to set financial sustainability for Saint John as our goal and design a budget that allows us to “live within our means”.

8.Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

Absolutely. To properly plan requires you to first look at the whole picture, define the desired outcomes and then devise a strategy to get there. That includes ensuring resources are focussed on those priorities and that here is accountability built into the system.

 

John Campbell:

1.What are your top two priorities?

Pension Plan currently it is have a devastating effects on all city operations.
Clean & safe water at an affordable price

2.What is your professional background and training?

Twenty years in Logistic Planning and deployment, three years as a sale executive with Xerox and thirteen years as an entrepreneur. My training included various logistic courses, Accident Investigator, Total Quality Leadership Development, various leadership courses.

3.What is your volunteer experience?

  • Salvation Army
  • Mental Outdoor Club South End
  • Coached minor hockey,
  • Feed the homeless Washington DC
  • Red Cross

4.What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

Comprehensive review of our Public Transit System, starting with the premise that public transit is a necessity. The structural review must include members of the public, frontline workers and transportation professionals.

5.Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

Hard to be familiar with all the new changes and in the past I used the bus regularly for my job with Xerox, but my new venture make the bus inconvenient for my time table. I still use the service when appropriate.

6.What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

A transition plan, which I laid out to common council last Oct 2012. Which I will attach.

7.What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

1. Flooding continues to be an issue
2. Road conditions and maintenance
3. Deployment of civic services i.e. snow ploughing

8.Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

Create a working committee that includes experienced, successful business professionals and energetic, informed citizens to do a complete review of city operations from the City Manager on down. No department will be exempt. This undertaking would need to be initiated immediately after the election to prepare a 2013 budget.

 

Mary Ellen Carpenter:

1. Safe, convenient, affordable public transit and to improve the quality of life for my neighbours who are living in third world conditions in this city

2. Canada scholar in science and technology. No letters after my name but a quick study and good with numbers

3. In the past 14 years, I have cleaned up 40yr old broken glass in neighbourhood parks, installed outdoor skating rinks, organized clean ups, hosted events, etc. More details may be found at safeplaysj@blogspot.com

4. Please see West Side Transit & Pedestrian Safety reports at safeplaysj.wordpress.com

5. Yes and yes

6. I prefer to do proper research before offering a solution. Given a mandate, I would be as thorough in a pension board analysis as I was with the West Side transit/pedestrian issue

7. A comprehensive Transportation Infrastructure Plan (TIP) that includes everything from walking on two feet to driving an 18 wheeler.

8. Without a doubt. Can read legal, decipher bureaucratic BS and have experience with forensic accounting. Love a challenge.

Have chartered a bus on May 4th, 5th & 6th to demonstrate the economic/cultural/recreational advantages of a viable transportation alternative. See Menaguashe Pow Wow at safeplaysj.wordpress.com

Mary Ellen Carpenter

 

Jason Robertson:

Hi Sarah, here are my responses and a small glimpse into the person I am and my vision for Saint John.

Sincerely,

Jason Robertson

1- Creating an atmosphere of team work and togetherness is my first priority, we never going to fix any of the problems like clean drinking water, pension deficit, transit or be able to take full advantage of opportunities if we are not working as one unit with common goals. We must make the City of Saint John our number one priority and not our egos. My second is to cut wasteful spending we cannot afford to waste even one dollar, this means becoming more efficient and not commissioning studies and projects we know we can’t afford.

2- I received my Bachelor of Physical Education from UNB in 2000 and went back to community college and received my diploma in Business Administration with a marketing specialization in 2006. My education does not end there, I try to learn something every day. I’m an avid reader and a habitual documentary watcher. Professionally I sell cars at Saint John Hyundai and before that I worked in radio advertising. I’ve held many other jobs as a student from camp counsellor to custodian and road flagman to blueberry raker. I spent two summers working with children with disabilities (one of my most rewarding jobs)

3- As a volunteer I’ve done quite a bit of coaching in both hockey and rugby, most recently I was the head coach of Rothesay High rugby from 2003 until 2010. I’ve also given my time as a musician to benefit shows such as Music for a Cure and the St. George Flood relief concert.

4- Saint John poses a very unique transit problem. First our city is huge in area so it’s a lot of ground to cover, second in many regions the population density is low so there aren’t enough users to cover costs (which have been greatly increased  by building a massive new terminal that we couldn’t afford). So we have a very serious problem on our hands. We have to look at becoming much more efficient in our public transportation delivery. We need to look at the most fuel efficient routes which still allow for easy access for all and at what time of day service to on all routes is more crucial and adjust accordingly.

5- I am somewhat familiar with our bus system but have not ridden the bus since my time at community college, I understand how much of a lifeline it is to many or our citizens.

6- As someone who’s not a financial planner the best solution to the pension fund is to get help from experts, take gather the information and come to the best possible decision for all parties involved (which includes every citizens in Saint John since they may not be getting a pension but the cost of services are going up because of the pension) I don’t have that solution but I do promise to make the most informed decision possible with the best interest of Saint John as a whole in mind.

7- I see ward 4’s biggest issues being that it such a huge area with low population density so services cost more per person (at no fault of the residents). We cannot charge ward 4 citizens more for the same services so we must make those services cost effective. Also Ward 4 is home to our major industrial centre and shopping centre so striking a balance of safe clean neighbourhoods with commerce can be a tricky situation and will take a lot of care and careful monitoring and regulation.

8- I’m willing to do what is in the best interest of Saint John. I’m not in this to be popular, I’m in this to save our great city and help Saint John and it’s people reach their full potential. I’m not afraid to say things people don’t want to hear because they are the things people NEED to hear. The right decision isn’t always the most popular one but not being popular doesn’t make it any less right.

 

Shirley McAlary:

Hi Sarah:

My two top priorities, Fixing the Pension Plan so it does not cost us funding from our Operating Budget and Fixing the roads plus providing clean water for all of us.

My professional background, UNB Fredericton and Business College. Worked at Air Canada for over 26 years, served as Deputy Mayor for 3 years and Mayor for 9 years. Last eight years worked in Real Estate, presently with ReMax Professionals.

Volunteer experience, served in numerous Transportation agencies in the past, presently on Rocmaura Foundation for Rocmaura Nursing Home and on Executive for Hospice Greater Saint John, played major role in establishing Bobbie’s Residential Hospice House, first in Atlantic Canada.. SPCA Board Member (just recently) and Canadian Red Cross and several other fund raising events.

I believe the cuts to the Transit service should not have happened. Many of our citizens need and use our bus system for their jobs and to have a good quality of life.

There are several issues that could be addressed with the Pension Plan. Approval of others on Council will be needed to undertake these changes and we will have to be aware of what can be done legally and with consideration to protect the members of the plan.

Ward 4’s issues are really the issues of the entire city. Better water, improvement of streets, Good recreation facilities, A more open door policy to doing business in the city, increase our job opportunities, making the quality of life better for all our citizens, keeping our taxes as low as possible, attracting more people to live in Saint John.

I know that I can work with city staff and improve our morale at city hall and make some changes that need to be undertaked.

Thank you and regards, Shirley

 

Ward 1 Candidates

Ed Hoyt:

1.What are your top two priorities?

The top two priorities are dealing wit hthe Pension Plan and the Public transportation. Once these two are addressed as soon as we are sword in as councillors we can get on to other items. These seem to be the two priorites holding back the city from progress.

2.What is your professional background and training?

I am a business owner, owner of a business consulting firm which consulted on call center technology around the world, owned 3 different garage door companies, owner of Odd Job Guys SJ and working on another start up even during the election. I currently also work for Xerox as a product specialist in saint John. I did sales and business most of my life included studying business technology specializing in marketing at NBCC and took psychology at UNBSJ.

3.What is your volunteer experience?

I have and am a part of Hockey for everyone as a on ice coach, coached Saint John Youth Minor Hockey, Caoched at The Boys and Girls Club for summer hockey program, Simonds Lions Club,Saint John Police Council, Riverview Minor Hockey Association, Founder of the New Brunswick Childrens Equal Parenting Association, Board of Director’s of the Candian Equal Parenting Association, NB Power not for sale, Street Hockey NB for mindcare.The list goes on but eventually people will get bored of reading. I was taught by my grandfather always to give back to the community.

4.What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

The System needs to be addressed and needs to be addressed as soon as this election is done and the new council sworn in as your representatives. It doesn’t matter which ward you are in the issue of transportation in our city is its lifeblood for the working poor, seniors and students. My own campaign manager is an avid user of the public transportation system; Wendy Couglin and again is worrying …about how she can get around doing her basic necessities. The fact that the people that were the current representatives have decided that they will sit back and not as much as attend the events put on by the people that created this group says a lot. So as I have stated throughout my own campaign in ward 1 and throughout the city the funding needs to be restored, the board representing transit needs to sit down and look at what are the most advantageous routes and going after the province to make the headquarters tax exempt. All Public transportation is funded so why are we always fighting to make sure ours is funded properly and the reason is simple civic leaders not representing the best interests of the people. If you want change go to the polls and put people in their that will fight for you and making saint John the place to live in not some where’s we called home.

5.Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

I am very familiar to it by conversations and working alongside of curent involved parties. I did take it a for a few months while my car was not working last summer.

6.What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

To take it from the current system to a defined contribution. To have a professional actuary break it down to its bear bones and modernize it so that it is no longer in deficit position. There have been great suggestions that I have seen so taking the best from all presented would be advantageous.

7.What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

I am in Ward 1 but have spoken to a lot of the candidates in your area and they think that working on the main goals along with water and recreation would be paramount.

8.Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

Without question. They need to be held accountable like anyone that is paid through the tax payers money.


Edward Hoyt

 

Greg Norton:

1.) What are your top two priorities?

(1) It will be necessary to reimage Common Council to a high standard of professionalism and decorum that is expected of our elected officials. Council must be focused on working in cooperation, coordination and collaboration within our own borders and with surrounding communities.

(2) Correcting our financial crisis through very specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals. It is necessary to increase our growth & development, which will demand Saint John, is building an environment that is inviting and attractive for investment today and tomorrow.

2.) What is your professional background and training?

Fredericton High School (1995); University of New Brunswick B.A. (1999); University of New Brunswick B.Ed. (2003); University of New Brunswick M.Ed. (2009); New Brunswick Department of Education Principal’s Certificate (2008); New Brunswick Department of Education Teacher’s Certificate VI (2009).     I have been employed as a teacher and school administrator for the past ten years, having had experience in three school districts and five schools. I am currently employed with School District 8 as the Principal of Lorne Middle School. In addition, I have completed a number of professional development courses and programs in the area of teaching and educational administration.

3.) What is your volunteer experience?

Currently I serve as a board member for ONE Change Inc. and the Youth Inclusion Program Project Management Committee. In the past I have served on the UNB Senate and been a member on several professional teaching committees.

4.) What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

Transit is what connects many Saint Johners to work, life and play. However, how we deliver transit services must be reconceptualized. Reinstating our past levels of transit service must also occur in tandem with a new model of service delivery. The way we deliver transit service on a go-forward basis will determine transits sustainability and our community interconnectedness.

5.) Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

Currently I am not a regular transit customer. My employment can require that I attend meetings off-site and this scheduled is best handled with the use of a vehicle.  However, I have used transit on an occasional basis and frequently used transit during my years as a student.

6.) What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

The pension fund is not sustainable with the model that is currently in use. Funding the pension plan has been challenging, therefore transitioning to a defined contribution plan needs serious consideration. It is also my opinion that long-term disability should not be funded by the plan. I am not a pension plan professional and expert advice will be required to determine the course of action.

7.) What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

Very generally there are concerns that Ward 4 residents have that are in common with all Wards. The big issues of financial instability, pension plan, growth & development, water, roads, service delivery and recreation resonate throughout all of our communities.

8.) Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

Yes! It will be necessary to have difficult conversations and healthy debate to achieve the desired outcomes that the electorate has identified. Clear accountability measures can be put in place, that includes benchmark results and performance reviews. This can only be done if we have a team on council that has identified and agreed which net we are shooting on.

 

Ward 2 Candidates

John MacKenzie:

 Hi Sarah,

My top two priorities would be the pension, transit issues.

I have been on the District Education Council and the District Parent Advisory committee for about 17 years, many of those years I chaired the council. I have worked for Canada Post Corporation for 36 years in both a union and presently Management positions.

DEC and PSSC while my children were in school and a few years after.

City Transit is a huge issue in ward two. Our citizens count on the bus to get back and forth to work and the university. We need a good system to attract people to the city.

I have used the bus a few times, but not often.

The reports that the three actuaries gave us in the past need to be dusted off and the recommendations have to be implemented. We don’t need another report, just the will to make the needed changes.

I would say the pension issue would be at the top of their list as well. Roads, transit, flooding.

Absolutely, the City manager has got to be held accountable for the mistakes his staff make. Thus he needs to know we expect him to hold them just as accountable.

Thanks for taking the time to do this. let me know if you want to have a coffee and disuss any issues.

 

Susan Fullerton:

2.What is your professional background and training?

I am a high school graduate (1974). I am also a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music (University of Toronto) and the Western Conservatory of Music (University of Western Ontario). I was the Gold Medalist for the latter.

I have built two businesses from the ground up.

First, Fullerton Music Studio. We gave lessons, sold pianos, organs, music books, had a piano rebuilding shop and a piano tuning business. I had this business for 20 years or so. We were in three locations in the uptown, the last and longest one being at 80 Prince William Street. I owned and restored this building, and sold it after I closed the business.

Second, Chipman Hill Suites. We buy, restore, furnish and decorate historic buildings in the uptown. We currently have 12 historic buildings and over 100 suites which we rent on a nightly or long term basis. We have a staff of approximately 20 people, in various departments from reservations to housekeeping to maintenance. We adhere to proper bookkeeping and accounting principles, and realize that we are responsible for our own destiny and must not overspend.

3.What is your volunteer experience?

I have been a lifelong volunteer, mostly on a one on one basis, to people who need help. People with problems seem to be attracted to me, there is something about my personality that seems to cause people, even complete strangers, to tell me their problems. I have worked with many people to help them solve or at least improve these problems. I have offered financial counselling and help, mental health assistance, provided food and so on. I have also volunteered with Big Brothers as an in-school mentor. I have also rescued many animals.

4.What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

Everyone agrees that it is a very difficult situation. The City has a responsibility to provide transportation for it’s citizens. I would hope to be able to find somewhere in our City budget to be able to bring back at least some of the recently cancelled bus routes. This would be a high priority for me.

5.Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

I am fortunate enough to have a car, and I do not use the bus.

6.What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

The pension fund is a very complex situation. There will not be one magic bullet that will fix it. Changes must be fair and equitable. I have identified the following measures for consideration:

1. The pension fund assets could be transferred to a larger pooled pension fund to possibly improve investment performance and reduce administrative costs.
2. All new employees must be enrolled in a “Defined Contribution” plan.
3. Disability benefits must be taken out of the pension plan and covered by insurance instead.
4. If possible, the City should gain control of the plan from the Province so that local citizens could control their own destiny.
5. The membership on the Pension Board must be revised. The majority of members should have a certain degree of expertise and not be a beneficiary of the plan or have any other conflicts.
6. While I agree the deficit is important, it is equally or possibly even more important that the plan can finance itself on a going forward basis. I am not sure that this is the case at the moment.

I have a number of other ideas, but I feel that this will give you the “tone” of what I feel should be done about the plan going forward.

7.What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

I am not running in Ward 4, so I am not prepared to comment on the issues for that ward.
Ward 4 shares with all wards the common issues of Pension fund etc.

8.Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT QUESTION.

 

Morgan Lanigan:

1.What are your top two priorities?

1) Fixing the pension deficit, and 2) creating a team atmosphere around the Council table. The odd part about these “priorities” is that they directly affect only a few pensioners, city employees, and council members, but their broader effects are felt by the entire city. Paying millions of dollars every year into the pension deficit is draining funds away from our real priorities, like funding the SPCA, keeping buses on the road, and fixing potholes. Meanwhile, arguing, bullying and personal agendas have no place at Council meetings. These tactics prevent us from having valuable discussions, making important decisions, and focusing on our priorities. Saint John needs a team, not a bunch of individuals, to move the City forward.

2.What is your professional background and training?

I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in the architecture, engineering and urban planning field since I was 13 years old – all skills that are particularly relevant to running a city! I am currently the Project & Production Manager at exp Architects Inc. (formerly ADI Limited), where I’ve worked since 2003. I have a Diploma of Civil Engineering Technology with an Architecture Major, and I am also in the process of completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. I also have a passion for urban planning, most of which I’ve learned through self-study and working with urban planners, which has led to appointments to several committees and working groups over the years (highlighted in question #3 below).

3.What is your volunteer experience?

Over the years, I’ve been a bit of a serial volunteer. Here’s are some of the highlights:

  • Saint John Arts Centre: Member of the Board of Directors, eventually retiring as the youngest Chairman & CEO in the organization’s history. Also sat on finance, human resources, fund-raising, programming, and executive committees. Raised over $1.5M for programs, mostly for children, and provided 30 deserving students scholarships and training to enter university in fine arts.
  • Planning Advisory Committee (PAC): Member since 2009, the PAC is a quasi-judicial committee that reviews and makes rulings on rezoning, variances, etc. for the City of Saint John
  • Fusion Saint John: Member of the Board of Directors and co-chair of the Urban Design & Economic Development Committee. Spearheaded reports and action on Cruise Ship Terminal design, urban design guidelines for the City, and the Heritage By-law Review.
  • Benefits Blueprint Committee: Arts & Culture and Youth Retention advisor. As part of the “energy hub” concept, a major report was created to help Saint John and the Province of New Brunswick plan for the future and major investment projects.
  • Urban Design Guidelines Committee: A 3-year research project to implement urban design guidelines in the City of Saint John. The committees findings were ultimately adopted by Council and integrated into — and form a major quality of life component of – PlanSJ.

4.What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

The most recent cuts to Saint John Transit’s budget are both deplorable and short-sighted. In light of the goals of PlanSJ, these cuts fly in the face of creating a sustainable community and affects many of our most vulnerable neighbourhoods. Taking buses off the streets means more cars will take their place, resulting in more wear-and-tear on our already potholed streets, costing far more in maintenance in the long run. Further still, as the only affordable means of transportation for some people, these people may have to cut back on priorities like food and shelter to get back and forth to work, or leave the workforce altogether in order to afford food and shelter for their families. Investing in transit is good for the community, maintenance budgets, and the environment. If budgets ever permitted, I would love to move toward cost-based, tiered fares, with shorter trips costing less than longer trips, and experimenting with free fares to priority neighbourhoods or our most dense neighbourhoods.

5.Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

I’ve been fortunate through my job to work with Saint John Transit on a number of projects and initiatives and know a little more about the inner-workings of the bus system, however, my job also requires a fair amount of short-notice travel and I am required to have a car at my disposal 5 days a week. I’m also fortunate to live in a very walkable neighbourhood (Douglas Avenue) and often take the opportunity to walk and bicycle to many locations.

6.What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

Pensions are complicated things and are based on assumptions rather than concrete facts which makes decisions difficult. I also like to believe that if the issues were easy to address, they would have been (or should have been!) addressed by now. Regardless, there is still room for significant improvement. I propose the following 6 items as a first step to getting our pension back into shape:

  • Transition the pension plan to a defined contribution model
  • Remove senior city management from the pension board who are in conflict of interest or, alternately, require that the plan’s actuaries provide advice to Common Council on the pension plan
  • Ensure that all increases to pension benefits are supported by the plan’s actuaries and are submitted for Council’s approval; and review past increases to ensure they followed proper protocol
  • Similar to other municipalities, petition the Province to give Saint John direct control over the pension plan decisions
  • Pool the pension plan with other municipalities to achieve greater economies of scale
  • Develop a clear understanding of the role of Council and the Pension Board in administering the pension fund

7.What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

Although I live in and am running to represent Ward 2 (North End), my office is located in Ward 4 and it is important to remember that Councillors still have a responsibility to the rest of the City, not just their Ward. My assessment of the biggest issues facing Ward 4 are roads and quality of life. Being a more car-dependent area of the city and a retail hub, Ward 4 streets take a pounding and have the extra wear-and-tear to show for it (have you driven down Golden Grove lately?). Consequently, there is a lot of traffic that makes getting from Point A to Point B difficult and it makes walking and cycling difficult and unsafe for children and families. Focusing on traffic calming measures in neighbourhoods, improving walkability and recreation opportunities will improve the quality of life for Ward 4 residents.

8.Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

There is a fine line between the role of Common Council and the City Manager and it is important not to step over those boundaries and become micro-managers, as has been common recently. The City Manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the City while Common Council is responsible to set the direction and policies for the City Manager to execute. On the other hand, several staff, primarily the senior city management, report directly to Council. It is critically important to ensure these staff members have regular performance appraisals against an established benchmark and perform to the required levels of service. Any issues must be dealt with swiftly by Council, particularly when those issues affect the City’s performance or perception.

With the current state of our financials, it is possible that a restructuring of services and staffing may be necessary to regain control. Before undertaking this, Council must be certain that the restructuring will produce net benefits for the City. To determine this, a “core services” study needs be undertaken to understand our basic priorities and, if a restructuring is necessary or desirable, Council must have the intestinal fortitude to push through substantial change in the best interest of the City. Tip-toeing around the big issues won’t get us anywhere.

morgan lanigan
FOR COUNCIL – WARD 2
| fresh face | fresh ideas |

 

Gary Sullivan:

1.What are your top two priorities?

1. Financial Stability by:

a) a sustainable solution to the Pension Crisis. We must stabilize the Defined Benefit side of things while we transition to another model that does not hold the taxpayer accountable for market fluctuations or human error.

b) increasing our revenues without increasing the property tax rate. I believe that property tax needs to pay for the services we all receive: Police, Fire, Roads, Parks, etc. while subsidizing some infrastructure (ie. recreation, transit) to make this a healthy, vibrant city. For other services, users need to pay more of their share for the services. This could be parking, recreation (for those who can afford it), animal control, permits and fees.

c) the city taking back control over boards and commissions that are “of the City of Saint John”. The “Saint John” Parking Commission and the Power Commission of “The CIty of Saint John” (aka Saint John Energy) and the “Saint John” Pension Board are all creatures of provincial legislation and Saint John Common Council (and thus Saint John residents) have NO SAY over their decisions. Parking and Energy are both revenue generators and yet the taxpayer receives little benefit from them.

2. Strategic Thinking by:

a) Planning and not reacting. Plan SJ, Plan SJ, Plan SJ. period. There will be pressure on the next council to “do things the way we have always done them.” Over $1 000 000 invested in a plan created with and by the citizens is only worthwhile if we follow the plan.

b) Developing relationships with the other orders of government so that we are working together to solve Saint John issues. There are three different types of representation but the same voter.
3. Continue to improve our customer service through:

a) Staff accountability and training throughout the organization

b) Continuing to recognize the significant contributions of volunteers to our City

2.What is your professional background and training?

Last four years on council, professional teacher. Degrees in Business Administration, Education, Masters in Educational Administration.

3.What is your volunteer experience?

  • President & Past President, ONE Change Inc. (2003 – now)
  • Current Member – Saint John Leisure Services Advisory Committee
  • Past President, Saint John St. Patrick’s Society
  • Past President, NB Sailing Association
  • Sailing Coach – NB Sailing Team
  • Volunteer – SJ Youth Hockey
  • Past VP of NBTA Local 0820
  • Member of several Provincial Teacher Committees

4.What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

Transit and Lifeguards on beaches should be the first items re-instated once pension reform is passed. Transit routes should be set in conjunction with PlanSJ to make sure that the routes are ones that will be used in the short term and support growth over the long term.

5.Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

While not recently, for 10 years I lived in Fundy Heights and worked uptown for 4 of those years, using public transit for 3 of those four years extensively. I haven’t used it much in the past 6 years or so.

6.What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

The long term solution has to protect the taxpayer – the current system does not. There are two ways this can happen:
1. Transition to a defined contribution plan. Taxpayers aren’t on the hook for deficits and the pension board has more responsibility in the case of deficits rather than to demand payment from the city…
or…
2. Repeal the current provincial legislation and replace it with a municipal bylaw like in Fredericton. If there are reforms needed to protect the taxpayer, the city would have the power to make them without the politics of lobbying the provincial government.

7.What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

Your current councillors, Joe Mott and Bruce Court, along with city staff, have spoken about several different issues in your ward.  It is the largest geographic ward in the city and carries with that a host of different issues.  From flooding in Glen Falls, the need for community centres out by the airport, better access and protection in Red Head… I think the major issues East are the same as the rest of the city:  Clean, Safe Drinking Water and roads.  There is a continued need city wide to invest in our infrastructure once there is a sustainable solution to the pension problem.

8.Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

Most certainly – there is a motion on the books that I brought to get information for council on the transition to a defined contribution plan. My other motions can be found on my website referenced above.

 

Patty Higgins:

Hello Sarah

I now have election stuff off City equipment on to my own. My apologies for the long delay.

Patty Higgins

1) Re: Top 2 priorities – The pension crisis first and foremost. This affects all aspects of services and fiscal health going forward. No citizen, employee, Council, or management should have to endure such devastatingly costly inaction ever again. It is not going to fix itself, and, if left unchecked much longer, will be irreparable. Stock market experts explain away money-sucking fluxes as ” necessary corrections “. Saint John Council must make our necessary corrections immediately. I have expressed great urgency in regards to our City`s financial position since the fall of 2008. It was rife with problems even before the global debt crisis hit hard. To this day, there is a thick wall of non-chalance in response. ie. no majority political will – a majority political won`t.

2) Re: Background and training – My background is in health care, first working at St. Joseph`s Hospital, then in the Forensic Unit at Centracare. When that closed, I became self-employed in the same field. I am an obsessional reader and researcher, and become a student of whatever it is that I need to know. Of late, topics of interest include : stock market, economics, urbanism, city building, cost/benefit analysis of economic development, neighbourhood rejuvenation, taxation, public policy, triple-bottom-line balance ( social, economic, environmental sustainability ), quality of life / quality of place studies.

3) Volunteer experience – Life long and extensive. Mostly social justice and environmental issues.

4) Current city transit situation – A clear outcome of extensive public consultations is that Saint John citizens want a more ` active transportation ` lifestyle. Walkability. Bike lanes. Transit service. This is well reflected in both Vision 2015 and Plan SJ. Active transportation will be the bellwether of healthy ( triple-bottom-line ) cities of the 21st century. Transit riders are considered pedestrians in the literature, as, most often, there is some walking, running, hiking, biking, boarding, etc. involved in points of a transit riders route. Transit is vital to residents of Saint John. Connectivity. Community. Employment. Internet. Friends. Java Moose on wheels ( BYOC ). Public transit – Saint John Transit – needs to be made to work without detriment to our bus users and our soon to be bus users.

5) Familiarity with bus system – Guilty. Not often enough. An under-user of Saint John Transit. My favorite mode of transportation in Saint John is my electric bike ( no parking fees ! ). When I have used transit, I`ve been thankful for our drivers – always helpful and courteous. I am familiar with the workings of Saint John Transit, and am under-impressed.

6) Pension fix – This is straightforward ;

  • Step 1 – Our voters must elect at least 6 independent, Saint John-centric, democracy respecting Councillors and/or Mayor who have no one to answer to but our citizens. The ability to recognize unhealthy financial statements and trends, along with practical, proven business knowledge and solutions-oriented mindset is mandatory. Voters must avoid those easily baffled by b.s., as well as those who do the baffling with same.
  • Step 2 – Immediately engage a local professional who knows more about the Saint John pension plan and its factors than anyone else ( those who have been paying attention should know of whom I speak ).
  • Step 3 – One, maximum two meetings with the New Brunswick Commissioner of Pensions
  • Step 4 – New Council, by resolution, adopt the agreed upon changes to a pension plan that is affordable and sustainable.
  • Step 5 – When the hearings on the necessary legislative changes are held in Fredericton, advocate for the plan to be severed from Provincial Government oversight and made a part of City by-law.

The failure to act on this fiscal crisis is indefensible. That reform cannot happen on a quicker time-line still has great potential for devastating financial and personnel fallout. Is it any wonder that I am grouchy on occasion ?

7) Ward 4`s biggest issues – These are the same as those of Wards 1, 2, and 3 – Saint John pension plan, Saint John Water, the massive fiscal imbalance, lack of revenue vs. responsibilities, over-spending on non-priorities, under-investment in essentials.

8) City staff/restructuring – I would continue to push for this. Astoundingly, only a couple of Councillors have attempted to circle the wagons to protect Saint John citizens. The majority circle the wagons around senior management – at every turn. I haven`t pulled any punches during this mandate, and won`t do so now. It is vital that our electorate NOT do the usual. Electing a large number of bureaucrats/civil servants – employees of another level of government – all on defined-benefit pension plans, could backfire on the public. Such a Council becomes the mirror-image of senior management, making for a very small minority cross-section of our population, with almost identical mindset, managing/governing our City. Ergo, the `old boys club`. I would lobby the PNB to disallow employees of another level of gov`t from running for democratically elected positions. There is too much over-lap and over-lay, and too often could have a perception of possible conflict of interest. Healthy democracy needs transparency and clarity, not murkiness. It is also possible that such an employment relationship could lead to apprehension instead of action, even though veering from the status quo is clearly, unequivically, the best policy choice for Saint John. Persons should not be put in these complicated situations.

Thank you Sarah

 

Ward 3 Candidates

Donna Reardon:

Thank you for your interest and questions. Hopefully these responses will answer your questions. I moved to Saint John 27 years ago and have lived in the same house uptown the entire time and raised a family here.

1.I have many issues I want to advocate for. Some of these include municipal growth, regional cooperation, increased municipal support for transit and of course the pension board lawsuit has revealed a lot of issues.

2.I am a dietitian by profession. I have served on many municipal boardsas well as school boards(SPAC & DEC).

3. I have volunteered my whole career as a resident of ward3.

4.Transit needs more support by the city and users.

5.I served as a commissioner on Transit for a 3yr term and was not reappointed by the city even though my name was put forward by Transit.

6. Defined benefits are prohibitive. That whole issue needs serious reassessment which I am willing to invest my time doing.

7. Ward 4 is huge geographically and I would think transit would be high on the priority list of that ward.

8.You bet!!!

 

Donnie Snook:

Question 1

1. Fix the pension plan.

2. Grow the tax base and manage tax dollars better. Saint John must be committed to a community vision that inspires, promotes and creates the right conditions to attract new growth and development. We must create an aggressive “smart growth” strategy in order to accelerate development and reinvestment in our city. I also believe we are compelled in Saint John to adjust our spending to accommodate a sustainable property tax reduction in order to be competitive with outlying communities. We must continue to pass fair and responsible budgets that address wasteful spending while establishing innovative, creative and more efficient ways to deliver core services. We should continue to look for ways to establish a leaner city hall by reducing management costs. Growing our City will ultimately protect and enhance the core city services that people depend on. We must grow our tax base by fighting for a city that is affordable and liveable.

Queston 2

I’ve been the director of a Saint John nonprofit organization for the past 13 years. I founded the popular youth outreach program called “Kids Zone” For the past four years, I’ve served as a City Councillor representing Ward 3. Preceding all of this, I started my career following my ordination in 1993 as an officer in The Salvation Army.

Queston 3.

Here’s some of my community involvement past & present:

Past involvement:

· PRO Kids (Positive Recreational Opportunities for Kids)
· Vibrant Communities (Anti- poverty Leadership Round table)
· Human Development Council
· National Child Day committee
· F.A.S.T. (Families & Schools Together) team member
· South End Little League Executive

Current involvement:

· Boys and Girls Club board member
· “Hockey For Everyone” board vice president/program coordinator
· Leisure Services Advisory board
· Heritage Development Board
· Rockwood Park advisory Board
· Transit Commission
· Substandard buildings appeal committee
· Emergency Measures Organization committee
· “Green spaces in more places” committee

Question 4.

I’ve advocated for public transit over my term as a City Councillor. I wrote a letter to Common Council which requested the City of Saint John to advocate for progressive reforms which will provide more favourable conditions in New Brunswick for the establishment of an enhanced and sustainable public transportation system which meets the current and projected needs of citizens. Specificly I asked City Council to immediately request the Provincial Government to:

1. Eliminate the tax on fuel for transit.
2. Offer relief on property taxes for transit owned facilities.
3. Help create innovative solutions/strategies with regard to promoting a more sustainable
public transportation system in New Brunswick.

I fought to protect Transit’s budget and asked Common Council to reconsider further cuts in order to save critical night time bus service in urban core/priority neighbourhoods.

Question 5.

Recently, I was appointed to the Transit Commission. This has given me the opportunity to become more familiar with the bus service in Saint John. Though I don’t personally take the bus on a regular basis, as a City Councillor, I’ve been involved in trying to resolve issues my constituents have made me aware of related to bus routes and customer service.

Question 6.

Council must succeed in passing the current reforms being proposed to the pension plan. Beyond this, I believe we must consider transitioning from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. Also, our pension plan should, in my opinion, be written in the form of a city by-law (as it is in other communities such as Fredericton). It would be helpful, as well, to review the current composition of the pension board as a part of reviewing and evaluating the structure which exists for managing our city’s pension plan. Ultimately, the goal is to provide fair pensions that is sustainable and affordable for the City of Saint John.

Question 7.

Though I am not a candidate for Ward 4, I believe many of the issues are the same around our city. Some of the top priorities for Citizen’s apart from the two I’ve previously stated would be roads and recreational opportunities. Providing clean, safe drinking water at an affordable cost is also a very important issue we are facing!

Question 8.

Yes, I’ve always advocated for structural reviews in order to control costs by reducing management and identifying more efficient ways to deliver front line services. Check out my website and take a look at some of my motions with regard to this and other issues I’ve tried to address throughout my term .

 

Allen Leslie:

Sarah.

Thank you for your very insightful questions. I have answered openly and honestly. I can’t change things on my own, nor would I have the tenacity to even attempt to without the backing of the people of this fair City.

I am aware that you are in Ward 4. I however am offering in Ward 3. That said, If elected, the boundaries of the wards do not limit the scope of my responsibility. I intend to work for every citizen of Saint John.

1.What are your top two priorities?

I see the top two priorities for the new council to be: Restoring our Transit system and Economic Growth.

2.What is your professional background and training?

I am a Chef (Interprovincial Red Seal Certified) currently employed at Britt’s Pub & Eatery. I also hold a Diploma in Commercial/ Structural Drafting and Design, and a Diploma in Biblical Studies.

3.What is your volunteer experience?

I have volunteered with: CommunityLens as a photo editor, served as assistance coordinator of recreation and events with the former Deer Island Development Association, as well as Random Acts of Kindness.

4.What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

The current City Transit system, is inadequate, due to the misdirected funding cut of the past 5 months.

5.Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

I depend on the Transit System each and every day. I use the System to get to and from work, appointments, social events as well as grocery shopping.

6.What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

Structural changes must be made to the Pension Plan. These changes need to include (but not be limited to) increase the number of workers contributing to the Plan, reducing the amount of moneys being paid out of the plan (ie. Capping the maximum amount paid to a pensioner on a yearly basis, independent review of each disability claim), Changes to the structure of the pension board so that the majority of the seats are held by neutral third party who do not stand to benefit in any way from the plan, while providing equal representation from the Unions and City.

7.What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

Lack of availability of Public Transit, Recreational opportunities be that parks and playgrounds or more formal facilities or a combination thereof.

8.Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

City management as well as each internal department must be subject to annual performance reviews.

 

Again, thank you for your questions,

Allen Leslie

Candidate Ward 3

 

Pat McCaffrey:

Sarah, In response to your questions,

1. Two top priorities – Fiscal discipline and accountability. You may want better roads and water, but where does the money come from and how effectively is it bing used?

2. Professional experience – Lawyer with Canadian Forces, JAG, (28 years), 7 years civilian with NATO specializing in financial issues, information management, international negotiations.

3. Volunteer – In SJ, Meals on Wheels (Board of Directors, deliver meals), SJ Taxation Review Committee, Waterfront development Committee, Heritage Development Board.

4. Transit – Need to review the whole system. An indication of a successful urban plan is how well does your public transit work. I do not think we do a good job of encouraging ridership in general – public transit is not just for the poor!

5. I have used SJ transit to get familiar. I was impressed with centre city to identified built up areas, but what about the rest? When I lived in Ottawa in my military career I used the bus as my main transport, so I am familiar with what a great assist public transit can be.

6. Pension reform – We desperately need reform, lest the system goes bankrupt or our taxes go beyond reality of value for services – discouraging population growth. Starting with good independent professional advice, we will research the art of the possible with a view to sustainability without raising taxes (defined contribution?). That said, I would get the pension out of the hands of the Prov government (like Moncton and Fredericton) and make it a Bylaw. Further, I would take the long term disability out of the Pension plan. The Plan was created as an employment retirement plan, not an insurance plan!

7. Ward 3 Issues. From what I am hearing at the door, effective public transport, clean water, street repair, and recreation for children (not necessarily in that order). But, it all starts with effective and Efficient fiscal management.

8. Restructuring city staff – A review is long overdo. Yes, I want to be involved. I have been involved in many restructuring endeavors. It is all part of accountability of staff to the taxpayer.

Cheers

 

Graeme Stewart-Robertson:

1. My top two priorities are best defined as the livability of Saint John, and the growth of Saint John. It is my belief that focusing every decision in City Hall around how it will affect these two issues, is the best way to not only turn the city’s fortunes around, but to propel us into the future as the preeminent metropolitan centre of New Brunswick.

The term livability is one which I use to describe the the interactions a citizen has within his or her community on a daily basis. This would include everything from the quality and safety of the water they drink when they wake up, to the integrity of urban design within the streetscape they walk on their way to work. These are all elements of city life which are interrelated, and many of which are overlooked by decision makers, but spell the difference between a surviving city and a thriving city. By asking the simple question, “How will this improve the livability of my city?” before every decision is made, we can ensure that we make conscientious and well-informed resolutions to the issues that will make Saint John an attractive place for existing residents and newcomers alike.

The issue of growth is one of utmost importance as well and intertwines with my first priority on many levels. By establishing the growth of our community as a top priority, we make the statement as a municipality that we are open not only for business, but to populations from around the region and around the world. Just as with the issue of livability, every decision from Common Council must echo the sentiment that we are committed to ambitious targets for population growth. It’s time for Saint John to challenge itself, and to put forth the image that we are a dynamic, vibrant urban city that is committed to attracting the best and brightest from across Canada and across the globe. There is nothing wrong with making public targets of say 10,000 new residents in 10 years – or hopefully even aiming higher still – and making the decisions we need to make those targets a reality. The term paradigm shift is thrown around a lot these days, but if ever it were needed to truly represent a need, it is to say to the world that we as a city are not content to continue the trends of the past and that we will be a torchbearer for Atlantic Canada heading into the future.

2. Graduated Rothesay High School (2002), then onto University of King’s College and U.N.B. for my B.A.(Hons.) in Geography & History (2006), then to the School of Graduate Studies at the Memorial University of Newfoundland where I studied urban environmental geography (2007-08). I am fluent bilingual in French and English, hold a certification in Electrofishing (UNB, Canadian Rivers Institute), as well as being a member of the Project Management Institute [PMI]. For the past several years I have been employed as the Project Manager and Urban Geographer at ACAP Saint John where I work on everything from offering in-school education programs, to designing active transportation systems, putting on community cleanups and running summer camps, all the way to managing large restoration projects, conducting ecological inventories, water quality monitoring programs, riparian plantings, detailed watershed planning exercises, habitat assessments, and watercourse enhancements. I also act as a third-party mediator on contentious environmental issues.

3. My volunteer experience is extensive, and while I’m sure I’m leaving many fundraising events or organizing committees off of this list, here are a few of my many contributions to the community:

- Chair; Marsh Creek Restoration Initiative Steering Committee,

- Principal Organizer; Marsh Creek Eco-Challenge 2011 and 2012,

- Member; Fundy Trail Development Authority Inc. Board of Directors,

- Member; Board of Directors of the Human Development Council,

- Member; Atlantic Regional Adaptation Collaborative [RAC] Program (Natural Resources Canada),

- Vice President; Board of Directors of the Saint John Ultimate Frisbee League,

- Assistant Coach; Track & Field (Rothesay High School),

- Member & Principal Reviewer; Integrated Sustainable Community Plan [ICSP] (City of Saint John),

- Member & Reviewer; Sustainable Communities Roundtable for Saint John (Province of New Brunswick),

- Land Steward; Ministers Face & Vance’s Beach Nature Preserves on Long Island for the Nature Trust of New Brunswick,

- Design Consultant; Saint John Knowledge Cluster Planning Workgroup,

- Member; Partridge Island Breakwater Access and Operations Committee (Saint John Waterfront Development),

- Member; Climate, Earth and Human Systems Dynamics Panel.

4. To me using transit is a huge part of the urban experience, not just in Saint John but in any city, where the quality and character of a city’s urban fabric is in many ways defined by its public transportation options. Whether it is the romance of the Métro in Paris or the gritty feel of Chicago’s ‘L’ train, a great city identifies and takes ownership of its public transit and as such it becomes a point of pride and an everyday part of its citizens’ lives. In my mind this is what is lacking in Saint John, as too often we view transit as some sort of superfluous extra that exists in a silo outside of regular city services, or as a type of welfare handed with hollow humility to those unprivileged enough to own or afford a car. It is this fallacy that has kept transit from becoming what it should be in our city, which is to say, an integral part of life in Saint John. Investments in public transit are shown time and time again to be one of the most advantageous costs that can be borne by a government at any level, as it not only offers the potential to reduce maintenance costs for things like roads, but it can invigorate neighbourhoods and fundamentally shift the density potential of a community to allow for further service delivery cost reductions and reductions in surface parking demands. By working with neighbourhoods to afford them more accessible transit options, we can foster growth within them, keeping population within existing serviced areas and creating business and retail opportunities along vibrant streetscapes with strong pedestrian ties. A healthier transit system not only provides upward mobility for low income earners, it provides tangible savings to all income levels, and allows the latent growth in our city to be cultivated more readily, and with less of overhead, to taxpayers and developers alike. It is for these reasons and many more that I fully support not just the restoration of transit routes in Saint John, but that I seek to reinvigorate our transit options by moving that Council re-evaluate our transportation network as a whole and consider merging [at least as a first step] the Parking Commission and Transit Commission, to recognize that since their inception they both have been fundamentally tasked with the same mandate; to provide Saint John with the means and the methods to get its visitors and citizens where they need to go, when they need to get there.

5. I am very familiar with the city’s transit system, as I was a frequent rider of the bus for years while I was in university and when I first began my career. That being said, my ridership has decreased as of late, because like many young Saint John residents, I made the decision to relocate within our urban core, putting me within walking distance of not only my employment, but of countless entertainment, volunteer, shopping and recreation opportunities. It is the existence of this type of walkable, vibrant neighbourhood that our transit system makes possible, yet we need to ensure that for those like myself who choose to live within the city centre, that the transit options exist to allow us to connect with the other areas of our city to unencumber the movement of ideas, capital and humanity between our many great communities.

6. The pension fund is obviously an extremely complicated issue for the next council, and while there are many details to resolve – including the composition and existence of the current pension board itself – there are a few items that can be boiled down into clear targets. In the short term we must complete negotiating with the Superintendent of Pensions to have current reforms passed by the New Brunswick Legislature, and looking beyond that we must make changes to the way these benefits are provided, such as match programs for RRSP and moving to the often-discussed defined contribution plan.

7. As acknowledged by many in the past, Ward 4’s biggest issues stem from its vast geographic area. Whether issues of planning (such as zoning for resource extraction), road maintenance (which has spiralled into unsustainable levels due to the exponential increase in service costs associated with each kilometre of distance the city extends beyond the service core), flooding (associated with the development of areas which sit below mean high tide), and the challenges of offering distributed or centralized recreation and transportation opportunities within a sparsely populated area. These challenges being resolved, there are solutions that City Hall can look at to reduce the burden on residents of Ward 4, while maintaining competitive levels of service and the quality of life that many of come to enjoy, and these include following the guidelines established by PlanSJ. However unpopular our new municipal plan may have become in the eyes of those who have not read it, it is important that we adhere to its strategies in order to focus on long-term, meaningful alterations to Saint John, rather than short term remedies to problems which will always re-surface in a matter of months or years. Not only that but we need to adopt new and innovative solutions to problems such as flooding, by using new technologies and listening to the best practices establish elsewhere around the world and anchored in science and verifiable metrics, rather than blindly following the anecdotal evidence and outdated engineering methodologies.

8. As a candidate in the upcoming election, I would expect that anyone who has put their name forward to run for office here in Saint John be willing to put the work into addressing any issue in the city, whether related to municipal employees as the questions alludes, or whether related to the structure of governance that oversees them on a daily basis. I have always felt that Saint John is a place of potential, a city that needs someone to lead it who understands that and who has the expertise and the energy to finally turn that potential into a reality we can live every day. Running for office should not be so much about politics as it should be about putting this city into motion and giving it the direction it needs, and based on the feedback of every single person I’ve heard from so far, I think that’s exactly the message Saint John has been waiting to hear. It is my belief however that although many might have the willingness to address structure issues within the city, we need educated individuals willing to work as a team to accomplish significant reforms within the foundation of Saint John to achieve the kind of transformational milestones that citizens are pining for. Saint John isn’t defined by its boards, commissions or employee hierarchy, it is defined by its people and its environment, which is why at the end of the day, the voters of this city are not looking for a candidate who appreciates City Hall, they’re looking for a candidate who appreciates them.

 

Ward 4 Candidates

Scott Waddell:

1.What are your top two priorities?

It’s actually tough to pick just two. Pension reform is something we needed and as yet to happen. I am disappointed with the non-action on the part of some new M.L.A’s at the provincial government. I also feel people who are/ will be affected by pension performance, should not be on council and the Mayor should not be the chairperson. We need a third party who know the pension business to look it over and be totally non-partisan.

Safe drinking water is another priority to seeing that it comes to fruition. Other steps are already on its way to that goal, we need to keep on track by providing funding at all govt levels.

2.What is your professional background and training?

I have been in Account Management for well over twenty years. I have dealt with large budgets, hitting sales and objective targets, and growing and maintaining customers. I want to bring that representation and professionalism to the council/ constituent relationships. I have sales and account management training.

3.What is your volunteer experience?

I have volunteered for Rogers T.V, and I have been asked by many organizations to help promote and send the word out to people by freelance writing.

4.What are your thoughts on the current city transit situation?

I understand why the new terminal was built, but to to the extent that they went at 24-million dollar cost. We could have done with much less. We need to live within our means. We need to restructure our system by including community and professionals to improve the system while living within our means. My goal is to have the cuts re-instated.

5.Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

I have used it many time, including getting back and forth to work. It’s an ESSENTIAL service, and should not be cut as it affects too many people.

6.What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

Have pension reform passed, and let a financial professional look at the whole thing and bring possible solutions to the table.

7.What do you see as Ward 4’s biggest issues?

Biggest issues include safe clean drinking water for the entire ward, better representation and a look at the lack of recreation in the Ward and look for possible partnerships to solve that issue.

8.Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

For sure, we need to look at restructuring the pension plan, transit, and any other area that needs to be looked at to find savings and efficiencies.

 

Mark LeBlanc:

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for your Email.

I have 4 priorities for Ward 4 and they are as follows:

1. Emergency Services
2. Clean/Safe drinking water
3. Leisure Services
4. Road Infrastructure

My background is one of a law enforcement environment as I am currently employed as a Humane Law Enforcement Officer (Animal Protection) wth the NBSPCA and a Compliance Inspector (Liquor/Tobacco Enforcement) with the Department of Public Safety. My educational background is through the Royal Military College of Canada (I was previously an officer with the Armed Forces Reserve – rank of Lt.)

Volunteer Experience: I served 2 (4 year terms) on the Saint John Leisure Services board and I am a past vice-president of the Saint John Chapter of the NBSPCA and I am currently the president of the Saint John Winter Ball Hockey league.
The current Saint John Transit issue is unfortunate but a priority all the same. I am not a regular user of the service but have used the service in the past. There is no quick fix to the problem but with news of the province finally seriously looking at pension reforms for the “mismanaged” pension fund for city employees it is possible that the funding that was lost could be recouped and service restored to the levels of before. The issue is with the pension fund and if I am elected I have a few options that I would like to see put forward to help ease the problems. The city of Saint John employees have to be willing to pay extra into the fund, the retirees have to look at having the indexxing cease for 2-3 years and the city of Saint John has to look at other arms length city commissions (Transit, Saint John Energy, Parking Commission) and the employees of these departments have to be allowed to enter into the city pension fun. More people paying into a plan will not hurt the financial state of the plan but just the opposite will occur. I find it very funny that the other commissions of the city also have pension plans and we hear of no issues with those plans. The city also has to look at the disability aspect of the pension funding and if this is sustainable in the future. I feel with these changes and the province now looking at accepting the pension reforms, the city can recoup some of the money back and it can be put back into departments like Saint John Transit that felt the cuts.

On your last question regarding restructuring within City Hall and working with senior city staff. I am the only candidate who has openly stated and will continue to state that with the current state of the city financially, funding reductions and cuts are going to occur. I will do everything in my power if elected to ensure that my 4 priorities for Ward 4 are protected at all costs but all other areas of the Saint John operating budget are open and “fair game”. The city of Saint John is the only municipality that has a “guranteed work” clause of 293 persons in the union contract and a very top heavy management environment. This makes things very difficult when it comes to looking for cheaper work options and potentially large savings like garbage disposal, street cleaning, works etc…Things have got to change and tough decisions have to be made.

If you have any further questions, comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Cheers,
Mark LeBlanc

 

Ray Stowbridge:

1. What are my two top priorities?

    1.  Restore credibility and professionalism to city council and in ward 4. I envision helping to lead the new council to work towards consenus building and to set goals with deadlines by way of offering a plan and a map to get us there.
    2. Fiscal Responsibiltiy and planning.  Its about getting back to basics.  I will  ask for a department by department break down of all expenses with the consensus of council to find out where the money is going.

2. What is my professional background, skills and training?

I graduated from Simonds High School, class of 1996.  I am a graduate of Holland Colleges Paramedic Program class of 2001. I have worked as a Paramedic for 11 years. I also worked as a Child and Youth Care Worker for 3  years from 2002 – 2005.  I have a Certificate from St. Lawerence College in Total Quality Management as well as additional  program planning and various other courses and certitifcates in human resource training, leadership.  I am a critical thinker and work very well under pressure. I am a calm person who is able to assess situations quickly and calmly and make informed decisions.  I  am currently employed with Ambulance New Brunswick full time

3. My volunteer experience:

During high school I volunteered with St. John Ambulance here in Saint John providing first aid coverage at public events at Harbour Station and throughout the community.  In addition, I volunteered and served on several committees and student council during my post secondary training and currently am a member of the PSSC (Parent School Support Committee) at my daughter’s school and support the Saint John Community Loan Fund and Multicultural and Newcomers Resource Centre at their events and through fundraising.

I am also registered with the Saint John Volunteer Centre waiting to hear back for board work and I am also on the waiting list with the city of Saint John to volunteer on boards and commissions.  I have been on these lists since last year and continue to wait for an opening so that I can lend my voice, experience and skills to building a better SJ.  I will be volunteering my time with the East Side Motivators this month for their community clean up and will be doing the same with the Glen Falls Community Committee as well.

4. My thoughts on the current city transit situation?

We, as citizens of this community, have a right to an accessible and responsibly funded public transit service. It is vital to any city and its local economy. Transportation is a part of everyday life for all of us, whether you ride the bus or drive yourself. Our transportation system connects us all to the services we need and access to community services is considered a valuable asset for all.

5. Are you familiar with the bus system and have you used it on a regular basis?

Yes I am familiar.  I do not currently use public transit.   I take my daughter on the bus occasionally to see the city as a “local tourist trip” and she loves it and it allows me to see firsthand the need for city transit.  I have met with SJ Transit and received a tour of their new facility; learning about routes, decision making, their budget and other matters relevant to transit in the city.

6. What is a realistic solution to the pension fund?

I believe that the current pension fund must be taken out of the hands of the province. Our current pension has to go through 2 levels of government, the province and the city. The city must make concessions and the employees must also make concessions. Changes must be offered and accepted by both and a new plan must be developed to ensure that both our employees are treated fair and that the city is as well without sacrificing the services of the city.

7. Q: What do I see as Ward 4s biggest issues?

A: Well that depends on where you live in Ward 4.  I can say that for the past 4 years we have had very little leadership and horrible representation in my opinion as a citizen.  If I am elected you will receive representation with the upmost level of professionalism and accountability. I will always be accessible to you and will make regular communication a priority and will encourage dialogue between the communities and neighbourhoods in the ward and myself. I will work with the other ward 4 councillor to form a team and partnership.  I will reach out to you and the entire ward.  I will be visible in YOUR community; and continue to seek your insight into what matters in your neighbourhood.

Now to answer your question, through meeting with community groups I have identified that flooding and proper traffic control is the issue in Glen Falls, in the Reading Crescent area its recreation and better security, in Latimore Lake it is gravel pits, lack of transit services (they lost their bus completely.) Red Head has identified recreation. Sarah, what about Champlain Heights where you live? What about forming a Champlain Heights community group like has been done in Glen Falls, Latimore Lake and Reading Crescent, has there ever been any thought on this? What issues do you face in Champlain Heights that you could share with me?  I’m sure that, along with the rest of SJ, roads, traffic, bus, etc. are all concerns, but are there pressing topics that need to be addressed in your area?  My goal is to find out from citizens in each community of Ward 4 as to what your needs are.  With such a large area to cover, it seems that each small community has different concerns, different priorities for themselves and I want to help address those individuals rather than create a “blanket” solution for the entirety.

8. Are you willing to address issues with city staff and do any restructuring that may need to be done?

YES! I am.  Sarah I am not a shy person by any means and I have no problem with public speaking. I will make the hard tough decisions that must be made to lead Saint John and to bring it back on course. I want to see more being done to encourage economic  growth, I want to make sure that a deal like the Hardman one never falls through again on our waterfront development.   Sarah the current way we are doing things isn’t working, we must work for real change and reform at city hall from its very core, from the top to the bottom if we are truly going to usher in a modern and more collaborative way of conducting ourselves – and by collaboration, I mean not just as council but also engaging and listening to citizens!  If it’s not broke don’t fix it, Saint John is broken and it needs to be fixed.  As far as city staff not meeting deadlines, not following or respecting council, well this is just a symptom of the bigger problem. Lack of leadership. No direction. A new council team will work and will demand accountability for staff and of itself. I want to be a part of that team, there are 2 empty seats at council in Ward 4 and Sarah I want to be one of them.  I started my campaign last year because I knew I wanted the job and could bring solutions to the table. That is my work ethic and drive. I hope you will not only consider me but also vote and encourage others to do the same.  If you have not already done so please visit my website at www.raystrowbridge.webs.com  for information about my campaign and some of my thoughts on issues facing the city.

Thank you very much Sarah for your time in writing these questions and I hope you have a good day.

Kind regards, Ray Strowbridge.

 

David Merrithew:

Sarah,  I’ll try and answer your questions as best I can.

1)  There are a lot of issues and the top two priorities I’ve heard at the 908 doors I’ve been to are pave our streets and the pension so I think they should be my priorities as well.  Having said that a top priority for me is to work well with a team and to take ownership of our city.

2)  I’m a financial advisor.  I’m a successful business man.  I’ve been a leader in anything that I’ve done.

3)  Long time Rotarian, past president of the club and past assistant district governor….Past board member for the TRC (teen resource centre for youth).  I was co chair in the capital campaign to raise $1,500,000.00 to build the TRC in its present location.  Long time board member of the Boys & Girls club and past Pres of the board.  With the B&G club help to run a 1.5 million dollar annual operating budget.  Also just finished co chairing a capital campaign for the club that raised $942,000.

4)  Transits important. Because of budgets we just took service off on holidays and that hurts.  Went to a door in Redhead and the man said he was being laid off from City Transit because of pension deficit and he is not even in the pension, felt very bad for the man.

5) Because of my job I need a car most days so I don’t take the bus but a number of people in the office take it and I realize the importance of the buses for a number of people that can’t afford a car or who are conscious of the environment.

6)  If the pension fund was a privately owned enterprise it would be bankrupt.  However it’s not and we can tweak it as to indexing, disability payment, more employee contribution and a few others.  The province legislates the pension so they will let us know whether we can pay the deficit over a longer period of time.  But keep this in mind we must get this problem off the front page of the papers.  It is a cancer that impedes growth and positive thinking within our city.

7)  Again at the 900 plus doors I’m hear the streets, the pension, and recreation.

8)  I’m willing to deal with city staff in a fair and business like manner.  Business like is the key, this is not personal it’s business.

Sarah thanks for the questions pls keep in mind that I believe we have a wonderful city however I think we must take ownership of it and promote it and be as positive as we can about it.  Cup half full goes a very long way to success.

Thanks Dave

 
11 Comments  comments 
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  • Icb32

    Great forum – we can read, at our own pace, the answers from the candidates and think about them.  I would like to read the answers to the same questions from all our mayoralty candidates

    • Ingalls Sarah

      Emails have been sent to the mayoral candidates.  I have only heard form Matthew Thompson, waiting for his reply.

  • Save Our City From Insolvency

    The Pension Plan is the Elephant in the Room! There is no other issue as important right now to Saint John taxpayers. Our City’s pension plan deficit which we taxpayers are responsible to pay, has us on the verge of insolvency and nothing else will happen unless this problem is fixed once and for all. There is no money for streets, water, parks unless this monster of a problem is solved yet the current Council has chosen to try a band-aid approach recommended to them by the same people who caused the problems.  Since no candidate possesses the skills needed to fix the pension, will they commit to bringing in a professional  administrator for the plan who owes no favours to anyone with the power to make the necessary changes?

    If not, how do they think they can fix the problems?

  • L. L. Gagnon

    The amount of Ward 4 candidates, Mayoral Candidates, and at large candidates, who actually answered # 7 have spoken to few actual communities within the Ward, who has come out to speak to people in Loch Lomand, or Red Head ? Yes you all have made your way to these locations to post your signs and make sure we see who is running but not a one has come down the Red Head Road and asked us what our concerns are (Ivan Court would use the term conflict of interest) Ward 4 has been so poorly represented we are almost non existent. Services are few and far between and believe it or not many of us are on wells and have pure, natural, healthy, drinking water so that is not a main concern for most of us and I have seen many of us try to reach out to Candidates by email, asking them questions on facebook, leaving messages to get no response back. This was being made public so yes most spoke. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ray-Strowbridge/100003054771517 Ray Strowbridge

      Hi L.L. Gagnon. I am sorry to hear that you havent heard or met any of us in your community yet. Myself personally I have been to Red Head twice already and I do have plans to return before May 14th. I have also received emails from Red Head residents and I have replied to them. I hope you weren’t one of them and my replys didnt make it through. If you did email me at some point please do so again and I will reply right away. I really appreceiate you taking the time to voice this concern. I will be in Red Head again and hopefully I will get to meet you. Please see my website to learn about me and my campaign. http://www.raystrowbridge.webs.com.  You can email me through there and I am also on facebook and twitter.

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  • Josh Tracey

    Do you know any of the candidates positions on either:
    1. defining the borders of rockwood park as the traditionally understood ones as the bordering roads?
    2. development of real estate within the traditionally understood boundaries?I know Mel Norton has publicly stated he is in favour of 1 and therefore not 2, but I am unfamiliar with all other candidates views

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