BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Sixteen candidates running for election in Scugog Township and the Durham Region attended a debate at the Latcham Centre in Port Perry, on Wednesday, Oct. 8.
Held by the Port Perry Seniors Club, the debate allowed a full house of local citizens to pose their questions to the electoral hopefuls - and hear their strategies - should they be elected on Oct. 27.
Opening up the debate was a question posed to mayoral candidates Chuck Mercier and Tom Rowett, asking what their vision of Scugog was in ten years time.
“In the past four years, my Council and I have made plans for 20 years of growth in Scugog,” said Mayor Mercier. “In 10 years, we will have the infrastructure, homes and industry we need to grow Scugog - and will likely be planning for even more prosperity.”
Mayor Mercier noted that even during economic slowdown, Scugog has seen growth.
Local business owner Tom Rowett rebuttled Mayor Mercier’s comment - stating that statistics show Scugog operating at a very low efficiency of 15.6 per-cent.
“I see opportunities in our Township to tweak numbers and lower our costs and spending, to get our bank books in order,” said Mr. Rowett. “If we pay close attention to the cash flow, we can grow and expand carefully during the next 10 years.”
For the first time this year, the position of Regional Chair will be an elected position, and five hopefuls were in attendance to discuss Scugog Township’s role in Regional politics.
The candidates faced the spotlight when a local resident questioned the lack of contact from the candidates, and asked how they would ensure that Scugog’s voice remain heard on the Regional level.
Candidate Michael Deegan was first to respond, stating his preference for face-to-face interactions, and paying attention to the details in a mass of land as large as Durham Region.
“I don’t want to just mail out flyers, it’s important to me to meet people and answer their questions in person,” said Mr. Deegan.
Lynn Porteous, another hopeful Regional Chairperson, supported the power of democracy - explaining that, if elected, it would be her duty to ensure the voice of every voter was heard.
“As the daughter of a soldier I am proud to see that 82 per-cent of residents voted that the position of Regional Chair should be elected and not appointed,” said Ms. Porteous. “I would ensure that the frustrations of people in Scugog are heard.”
Mr. Peter Neal chose to forgo the aid of a microphone and instead loudly denounced the work of incumbent Roger Anderson - stating that Mr. Anderson has been in office for too long, and would “sell-out Scugog.”
Barbara Pulst was next to respond, stating “this is an inaugaral run for a very important position - the campagining process has been difficult this year, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Incumbent Regional Chairperson Roger Anderson explained his tendancy to attend Council meetings in North Durham, and mail out literature to his constituents - ensuring that lines of communication are supported between Scugog Township and the Durham Region.
“Brock, Uxbridge and Scugog will retain their six seats at Regional Council and will keep their voice when the seats are redistributed,” said Mr. Anderson. “If they want to take seats away from the south end, I’ll tell them where to take them from - but the North will not be touched.”
One local resident, reffering to Fall as ‘Orange Paint Season,’ asked mayoral candidates why the Township’s work on the sidewalks is contracted out and not done by Township staff - as well as how each candidate plans to address the crumbling concrete.
Mayor Mercier defended the Township’s decision, explaining that the Township puts out an annual tender for the sidewalks most in need of repairs - and chooses the one with the best value, quality and price.
“These sidewalks didn’t crumble in 2014, we were given them - so we do our best to fix what we can,” said Mayor Mercier. “The spray paint doesn’t only mark the cracks, but is sprayed to warn pedestrians.”
Candidate Tom Rowett held a position of safety, no matter the cost - explaining that money can be found through efficiencies, in order to fix the aging sidewalks en-masse.
“As a resident, I’ve seen the same orange paint on the same cracks, year-after-year,” said Mr. Rowett. “We need to make sure our walking children and seniors are safe - especially during the winter - even if it means going into debt.”
To see an introductory column and platform from each Scugog municipal election candidate, please visit The Standard on-line at http://thestandardnewspaper.weebly.com/candidate-columns.html.
Election ballots must be returned via mail or to the Port Perry Municipal Office, 181 Perry St., by Tuesday, Oct. 27.
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