1. What can you tell voters about your background and experience that will prepare you to sit on Chilliwack city council?
To be very blunt, there is only one incumbent councilor who has the council background that compare to my own experience. There are no "new" candidates who possess any council experience at all.
I was elected twice to councils in Niagara Falls, Ontario-first, as city councilor and secondly as Niagara regional councillor. As city councillor, I volunteered to sit on 13 committees, including the major committees of finance, public works, downtown revitalization and economic development. I worked tirelessly to ensure that my constituents received a valued contribution.
As a Niagara regional councillor, I was one of 19 people who managed a $180 million budget. We looked after the Niagara Regional police, all 19 sewage and water treatment plants, all health services and all seniors' homes. The average amount of time that I dedicated to these two councils was approximately 30 hours per week.
On top of this direct council background, I was a teacher and a high school principal for 30 years. As a principal in Nunavut, I managed every aspect of the school, including hiring, financials, all staff etc.
My background also includes 12 years as a small business owner/operator.
2. What issue or issues have motivated you to run for council and how do you think you can help?
Beginning in early 2009, I began to see people asking me to run for Chilliwack Council. Upon moving to this city, I asked many questions, toured the whole region in detail. I came to realize that I could provide the expertise to be a positive force on council. I know from experience that there is no better way of really getting to know your community.
3. Downtown Chilliwack has seen improvements over the last three years but many buildings still sit empty. What do you see as the city's role in helping to improve the downtown area?
Downtown, empty buildings etc. I believe that yes, indeed, the city does play an important role in downtown revitalization. I went through this exact same issue in Niagara Falls. We had a very high rate of drug abuse and prostitution. We had dozens of boarded-up storefronts. People were afraid to walk downtown even in the daytime.
We began way back in 1985 on this. I was a member of the downtown committee that spent over five years on this issue. It took time but we managed to secure several million [dollars] in provincial and federal contributions and we begun a major facade and structural renewal of the downtown. Now, years later, you would not recognize the downtown.
This can be done for Chilliwack. It takes time and it takes considerable energy. I offer my services to be a part of that renewal.
4. What are your thoughts on Chilliwack's future growth? Infill and increased density in developed areas are the current priority, but what do you think about more housing into unused farmland and the surrounding hillsides?
I support utilizing "infilling" to increase the housing factor. I am not in favour of developing ALR farmland if that land is suitable for crops. Only if it can be proven that that specific agricultural land is unsuitable for growing crops would I favour its use for new housing development. I feel that Chilliwack will grow-gradually to the point that our population will be over 100,000-but, I do not feel that an "Abbotsford-like" growth will occur in the next 20 years.
5. Have you ever ridden a bus in Chilliwack and should city hall invest more money in improved local transit?
Yes, I have ridden a bus here several times to know exactly what it was like. Many buses seem to be almost empty much of the time, so I see little reason to drastically increase the local bus budget.
6. Public safety costs make up the largest single portion of the city's budget yet concern over crime persists. Do think the RCMP's budget should be increased and would you support a tax increase to fund that?
I am not in support of increasing the budget for the RCMP. There are two issues here. First, it has to be proven to me that they warrant an increase. Secondly, I feel that it is long overdue that we look at our own police force. The role of the RCMP in most areas of Canada is one to keep the peace in small communities across the north. Chilliwack does not fit into this scenario.
7. How many city council meetings have you attended in the last year?
I have been physically to three council meetings this year. I remind you that I attended 100 per cent of the council meetings for six years in Niagara Falls.
8. Can you provide a very short bio: employment, family, how long you have been in Chilliwack and/or anything else you feel voters should know about you?
- Teacher for 30 years in Hamilton, Niagara Region, northern Manitoba and Nunavut;
- As a younger man worked at many labouring jobs, factories, farmwork, truck driving;
- Graduated from McMaster University, BA in History and Political Science;
- Graduated from Hamilton Teachers' college;
- Extra courses in Phys. Ed and advanced coaching certificates, Brock University;
- Was married to Margaret Harrington, two children, Kevin and Jennifer, one grandson Jonah;
- Very active for 20 years in community organizations in Niagara Falls: Church Councils, Outreach to the Homeless, United Nations association, Environmental organizations, the local NDP, Big Brothers, YMCA/YWCA, coached seven sports at the school level, coached city all-star soccer, basketball and track and field;
- Ran for the NDP in the 1981 Provincial campaign, and 1984 and 1988 Federal campaigns;
- Campaign manager and other roles in nine elections; managed my wife's successful provincial election in 1990;
- Small business owner 12 years;
- Taught in a tiny, isolated Cree community, Brochet, in far northern Manitoba;
- Principal in Kugluktuk, Nunavut;
- Taught Grade 8 classes in Baker Lake, Nunavut;
- Purchased a "retirement" property in Hope in 2006;
- Chilliwack campaign manager for 2009 and 2011 elections (for Gwen O'Mahony);
- Came to Chilliwack daily in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Physically moved here March 1, 2011;
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