UXBRIDGE: The crowded field of candidates in the upcoming Ward 3 byelection had the opportunity to address local voters last week, as part of a special election forum.
Sponsored by the Uxbridge Cosmos, the forum drew a large crowd to the Sandford Community Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 21 to hear from the eight candidates vying to fill the seat on the council bench, most recently held by the late Pat Mikuse.
An unprecedented field of: Mike Whitson, Lynn Klages, Ted Eng, Dave Granic, Bev Northeast, Bob Harrison, John Haddock and Mike Barton all are competing in the vote-by-mail election, which will be decided on Nov. 23.
Four ‘T’s’, taxes, tourism, technology and transportation dominated the discussion throughout the evening as the candidates detailed their individual election platforms and priorities.
Following their opening statements, the candidates engaged in a lively debate before answering questions from the media, as well as local residents. Throughout the evening, there was great candor and camaraderie amongst those vying for the seat.
Mr. Eng, a local organic farmer and former Ward 2 Councillor noted that he grew up as the ninth of 18 children, and pledged to offer more local solutions to affordable housing, such as allowing for multiple kitchens in a residence, as well as partnering with the private sector to bring more diverse economic investment to the community.
Mr. Whiston operates Lavender Cottage Bed & Breakfast with his wife Jo, and noted that his experience as a small business owner as well as an extensive career with large corporations prior to retirement gave him the necessary background for the job. Mr. Whiston also noted that as a member of the tourism and the economic development committee, he would be able to implement strategic plans to increase both areas in the municipality.
For political newcomer John Haddock, a revitalized downtown with “vibrant, busy shops instead of vacant storefronts and abandoned construction sites” is a pressing need for the municipality.
Serving as Ward 1 Councillor for 23 years give Bev Northeast the most experience in municipal government amongst those in the running. Ms. Northeast sought to appeal to the rural riding by pitching a program to facilitate more local food purchasing. She also expressed a desire to pursue a grant for the township to work with a nutritionist to improve the health of the township through new programs.
Lynn Klages, another newcomer to municipal politics noted that there are frequently different concerns for rural residents as opposed to their urban counterparts. She noted a pressing need for increased police presence in rural Uxbridge, as well as new services in hamlets such as high-speed internet and natural gas.
Rising water levels on Wagner’s Lake were a major concern for Mike Barton, and he vowed to work with local Conservation Authorities to ensure that homes in the area are protected. As well, he shared concerns over speeding on the Ward’s roadways, particularly Davis Dr.
Grand visions for the Uxbridge’s future were the basis for Dave Granic’s pitch. The owner of the local Boston Pizza noted that he would attempt to follow the lead of Scugog Township and create a municipally-owned high speed internet company to provide that service for rural residents.
As the population ages, the needs of the community are changing, as Bob Harrison noted. He would push for more investment in more local long-term care facilities to meet the needs of older residents, while providing new jobs for a new generation of Uxbridge workers.
Ward 3 residents have until Nov. 9 to mail their ballots back into Town Hall, or they can be dropped off in person until Monday, Nov. 23. If you have not received your ballot, please call 905-985-9181.