So let’s start with the incumbents, because despite the high profile nature of the position, being a city councillor is a full-time job that pays like a part-time one, no matter what you feel about whether or not those people are worthy of the paycheque they get. So with all the scrutiny and armchair quarterbacking, why would someone want another go-round in the horseshoe? Let’s ask Ward 4 Councillor Mike Salisbury.
“The City of Guelph is in the midst of a transition – from a small, progressive community to a much more complex and diverse mid-sized city,” explains Salisbury. “We require leadership capable of navigating this transition - a council capable of seizing the opportunities while preserving the character and quality of life that makes Guelph so unique. […] My personal vision for the City of Guelph is to build upon this legacy and making Guelph an inspiring place to live – invest – and to visit.”
Part of that vision is an increased focus on improving transit, according to Salisbury. “Perhaps the most exciting (and overdue) initiative was the development of the Transit Growth Strategy,” he says. “The strategy combines increased service frequency during peak periods and off peak periods combined with a host of routing improvements which addresses long standing complaints about the radial transit system we have struggled with for years. I believe we are making strong headway but there is still much more to be done.”
Salisbury isn’t the only one making transit a priority. “My family of young adults (high school and university) and myself are transit users, and know the importance of a dependable system (including holidays),” says Ward 5 Councillor Leanne Piper. “On time, on budget, increased ridership, friendly staff, improved technology and better inter-modal linkage; the Transit Growth Strategy speaks to all of these key issues and I strongly support the growth and efficiency of our system.”
Piper also believes that Guelph is a city in transition and that strong, experienced leadership is needed to keep things moving forward. “Guelph is on a forward momentum path,” she explains. “We are poised to be national leaders on a number of fronts – water conservation, wastewater, community energy, economic development, arts and culture, and more. We need strong leaders at City Hall to keep us on that path. I want to look back in 25 years and know that I did everything in my power to ensure Guelph’s sustainability and prepare us for the next generation.”
Strong points, but many of the candidates challenging the current councillors for their seats have said that one of the biggest problems with the current council is keeping its constituents informed about those accomplishments. “A common and often heard complaint from voters is that that candidates are visible to voters during the campaign and once elected are seldom seen,” says Jim Furfaro, one of 11 candidates running in Ward 1. “I want to assure voters that their support will be recognized beyond Election Day. I plan to “put constituents and their needs first.” I will keep voters informed (townhall meetings) and up-to-date on key issues that have a potential impact on Ward One or the entire city.”
In Ward 2 meanwhile, one incumbent councillor begs to differ and says that he’s been doing a pretty good job of keeping his constituents in the loop. “The Ward 2 Blog helped connect residents of Guelph with City Hall,” according to Ian Findlay. “It became a popular forum for community discussion and information on a variety of topics. To date I have made over 1,800 postings to my blog and it has been viewed more than 225,000 times!” But for Findlay, there’s also been more human interaction too. “I also co-hosted 16 town hall meetings in Ward 2. These neighbourhood meetings allowed residents and other stakeholders the opportunity to express themselves on a variety of topics and issues.”
Still, Furfaro holds to his guns that this election is about bringing some new blood into the council chamber. “This election is as much about ‘change’ as it is about issues,” he says. “There are ten incumbent councillors seeking re-election and twenty-three individuals believing they can make a difference. Be prepared for ‘business as usual’ in how things are done in the council chamber if voters choose not to make substantial changes.
For full candidate questionnaires zip over to Guelph Politico at http://guelphpolitico.blogspot.com/