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New Tecumseth Votes 2018: Meet Your Candidates – Ward 2

August 24, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Wendy Gabrek


The Times’ Meet the Candidates series continues this week with the three candidates vying for the Ward 2 seat.

Incumbent Michael K Beattie faces of against Laurie Mortimer and Lorrie Macfarlane – who will all be asking for your vote this October. We’ve asked the questions, they’ve answered the call. Meet your candidates for Ward 2…

Michael K Beattie

Full Name: Michael Kenneth Beattie

Town of Residence: Community of Alliston, New Tecumseth

Length of time in New Tecumseth: 38 years – the Beattie family have called New Tecumseth home since 1906


Primary reason you’re running: I’m running again because I received a strong and decisive mandate in 2014 from the people of Ward 2. I have honoured the Oath of Office I took, I have followed through on what I ran on in 2014, and I have attended every Council meeting over the course of this term ensuring my constituents always have a voice and a vote at the table. I am running to ensure we as a municipality maintain control over our future, and to ensure that developer speculation and intrusion is kept away from policy setting and decision making. I’m running because while we have accomplished a great deal together, we have much more work to do, and I have much more to offer. I’m running to continue serving the people of Ward 2 with Efficiency, Advocacy, Strength, Leadership, and most importantly, Experience.


Campaign slogan: Experience Matters – Now, More Than Ever.


What are our most important challenges facing the community? We are about to go through a period of very heavy lifting in terms of infrastructure upgrades, capital projects, and maintaining and enhancing levels of service. The completion of the water pipeline and infrastructure in Tottenham, construction of Fire Station #4, and a drainage master plan for the whole municipality, but especially for Beeton, are all top of mind for me. We must also continue working with the provincial government on the vital redevelopment of Stevenson Memorial Hospital. Stevenson has been punching above its weight for many years, but it’s our time, it’s our turn, and I will offer any and all help needed of me to keep this important work moving forward. Developer speculation has never been higher in New Tecumseth than it is now. Mega-development and urban sprawl is just one wrong vote away. Now, more than ever, we need strong, unwavering, principled and experienced representation on Council that is opposed to urban sprawl. I opposed it as a candidate in 2014, I ran on it, I won on it, and my position has not and will not change.


What do you cherish most about this community? New Tecumseth is a municipality envied by many, for many reasons. We are made up of three distinct communities with three distinct identities, along with a rich and proud agricultural history that has spanned generations. I know those families, we’re one of them.  I will do everything in my power to ensure that our community remains one that is unique, one that is diverse, and one that is poised for a bright future.


What type of leader you will be?  I will be the same leader I have always been – accessible, approachable, accountable, and now experienced and battle-tested. I will govern myself with integrity, humility, and a servant’s heart. The seat I sit in and the office I hold are not mine, they don’t belong to me. They belong to the people who have elected and entrusted me to represent them. I have never and will never lose sight of that. I know how to negotiate and reach common ground, I know how to debate and stand firm in my convictions, I know how to win, and I know how to lead. I am ready to put my experience and my knowledge to work and hit the ground running on Day 1 after the election. As I’ve said, I have much more to do and much more to offer.


What are your priorities for change in our municipality, in the short term. What about in the long term? In the short term, we must keep moving forward with the water pipeline to Tottenham, and we must lend any and all support to Stevenson Memorial Hospital and its redevelopment. Also, the agreement regarding the Tottenham Airport will expire next spring. I have absolutely no appetite to renew or extend that agreement by so much as one day, and I will do all I can to ensure that agreement and that nightmare for surrounding residents comes to an end. We must implement a local transit system that compliments and enhances what the County of Simcoe plans to roll out in our region in 2020. I also believe that it is incumbent upon us to push for more affordable housing options in future development, and adopt a more aggressive approach to economic development – specifically, the marketing of industrial lands in an effort to bring more well-paying jobs to New Tecumseth.

In the long term, we have received clear direction from residents on the desire to have an indoor swimming facility, and I will advocate for a feasibility study to be included in the 2019 budget so that we can move this project forward. I firmly believe municipalities need and deserve a greater share of the household tax dollar. Nine cents of every dollar is simply not enough, not when municipalities have the greatest share of infrastructure projects and services to oversee. I will do all I can to work with our provincial and federal partners to push for more money made available to New Tecumseth and to all municipalities.


What are the biggest fiscal challenges in our municipality, and what do you envision as the best way(s) to address them? The short answer: I’d rather build a 10-million dollar indoor pool many people want, than a 15-million dollar Town Hall practically nobody wants. As I’ve mentioned, we are about to embark on several years of very heavy lifting in terms of infrastructure and capital projects. I took on a big fiscal challenge as soon as I took office. My 2015 motion that reversed the disastrous development charge collection policy enacted by the previous Council saved us from certain financial strain, and the numbers speak for themselves – we’ve gone from a projected overdraft when I took office to now over $20-million dollars in those reserves. It wasn’t easy either – it was a 6-4 vote. I endured 6 months of delays, stall tactics, debate and even veiled hints of being legally challenged that could have cost me my seat.  I spent $3200 of my own money on a legal opinion clearing me to proceed. I did that because I knew it was the right thing to do for my constituents and for all residents – and I’d do it again.  We need experienced and principled leadership and strong advocacy – that is exactly the kind of Councillor I have been and will continue to be. I am proud of my record, and proud of the work my colleagues and I have accomplished, all the while holding the line on tax increases. New Tecumseth is among the largest contributor to the County of Simcoe Levy, and is also among the lowest in terms of property tax rates. We have slashed tax increases by more than half over the previous term when taxes rose an astounding 22%. I will continue to advocate for lower taxes, less bureaucracy and red tape, maintaining service levels, economic growth, and positioning our community for responsible planning, growth, and environmental stewardship.


What innovative projects would enhance life in this area? As I’ve mentioned, an indoor swimming facility will be a great compliment to our Parks Recreation and Culture Department, but we also need a greater variety of programs, such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), as well as more academic and education-based programming – not everyone in New Tecumseth plays hockey or sports. It’s been a great honour to spearhead and launch New Tecumseth’s first ever Youth Advisory Committee. The YAC has done great work during this term and I’m very proud of them. Together, we’ve worked on many initiatives such as mental health, environmental awareness and conservation, arts and culture, and LGBT youth advocacy. Our youth deserve a voice and a seat at the table, and I look forward to continuing that important work. While Youth make up about 1/3 of our population, seniors also make up about 1/3 of our population, and our population is aging. That is why I will be advocating to form a Seniors Advisory Committee, so that our seniors can contribute to the betterment of our community the way they always have over the years, and we can make New Tecumseth more age-friendly and a better place for our seniors to live and thrive. These are just two projects that I will move to take on personally.


What is your perspective on the best way to collaborate with other levels of government to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for our area? The best way to collaborate is to be available and to be open-minded and part of the solution. We are among the largest contributors to the County, and we must leverage that during budget deliberations and negotiations. Our voice must be loudly and clearly heard among other levels of government – especially when their decisions are the wrong ones. As an example, 35 acres of forest just outside of Beeton was destroyed when a developer decided they wanted to “farm” that land. The County of Simcoe had jurisdiction over that decision, the County Council voted to allow for the destruction of that forest, and that land has never since been farmed. It was wrong. I commit that, for as long as I am privileged to sit on Council, developers that decide they want to be farmers, will remain farmers. Another glaring example of intrusion is the mega-development currently being deliberated at the former OMB known as the Mattamy Cappuccitti development – which would drop a staggering 15,000 home community the size of North Bay in between Alliston and Beeton – changing the face of New Tecumseth, forever. My position has been consistent and clear over the years – I opposed it as a candidate, I’ve opposed it as a Councillor, and I will continue to oppose it every step of the way. That said, this development will come back to Council, which is why it has never been more important to ensure we elect a Council that is not beholden or loyal to the development community.  I’ve taken them on before and won, and I’ll take them on again if need be.


How do you envision communicating with constituents? This is not something I need to envision, because this is something I have already been doing for the last four years. I have always been accessible and approachable to my constituents, and that won’t change. That said, I have and will continue to lend my help to any and all residents, regardless of what ward they happen to live in. That’s the commitment I made when I received such a strong mandate, and I promise nothing less once re-elected. I’ve worked with our school administration to make our communities safer for our kids. I’ve worked with our local BIA’s and Chambers of Commerce on some innovative projects and events that benefit all residents. I’ve gone to bat for residents when developers failed to adhere to project completion timelines.  I’ve worked with our seniors to ensure our community is more accessible and age-friendly for them.  I’ve advocated for and implemented many traffic calming and community safety measures, after residents got nowhere for years under previous terms of Council. Most importantly, I have perfect attendance at all Council meetings over the course of this term, making sure my constituents are represented and heard.  My phone is always on, my door is always open, I’m not a hard guy to find, and that will not change. I have every intention of winning, losing is just not an option – especially now. The stakes have never been higher than they are now in this election. I have fallen in love with this job, I believe I have earned and will receive another strong mandate from the people of Ward 2, and I will continue to move New Tecumseth *Forward*. Win or lose, I will be in the Council Chambers over the next four years – I’m not going anywhere.


Lorrie Macfarlane

Full Name: Lorrie Macfarlane

Town of Residence: Alliston

Length of time in New Tecumseth: Moved to Everett Aug 20, 1999, to Alliston Jun 13, 2014.

Primary reason you’re running: I have always been politically and community minded.  I feel a strong sense of responsibility and commitment to my community. I love the small town feeling and the friendliness. I hope that as we grow we do not loose this. I want to be a part of making New Tecumseth a thriving, safe and enjoyable place to live.

Campaign slogan: Together we can!


What are our most important challenges facing the community? I would say major challenges are recreation and transportation. I see our kids out on their skateboards and bikes and honestly, I would love to see a really great Skate Park, one we can be proud of.  I don’t want the kids to feel that they are not considered or important. Skateboarding is now an Olympic Sport and why could we not provide a place that could birth the next champion? We have the space, we just need the commitment to see the project through to completion. I also understand from a long time resident that the proceeds from the Potato Festival since inception were to provide an indoor pool for the community; they are still waiting! There is no reason that we have so many ice rinks and an indoor soccer pitch yet lack a place where families can swim all year round and have access to lessons. Our community has depended on Base Borden (including myself!) for this service but it is time we stood on our own two fins! Our Township is growing by leaps and bounds and we must be ready for this; strong families make for a strong community and good recreation options can only help. I am also aware of the challenge of getting around now that our downtown services have moved to opposing ends (Alliston having a great challenge with this). Our community may not yet be ready to support a bus system however other small communities have taken advantage of alternate conveyance providers and I think we should also be examining all options for those who need this service.


What do you cherish most about this community? The small town feeling. I love going to the grocery store and meeting people I know from other places and if we don’t know names we still say hello!


What type of leader you will be? Honest and trustworthy. I see no point in making false promises or unrealistic commitments. If something is not possible I would rather be upfront with that. If there is a situation that can be worked out down the road, let’s plan for that. I will not tell people what they want to hear just to get a vote.


What are your priorities for change in our municipality, in the short term. What about in the long term? As mentioned previously I would love to see more varied recreation. What is have is good, but we can do so much better. I would like to see things that keep families playing together and being active. Perhaps cross country ski trails? A real dog park? Bike trails? The options are endless. For the long term, I would really like to see us advocate for more affordable housing options. Being a parent on a limited income I understand the concern of trying to find decent housing within a budget. If we involve various stake holders perhaps we can come up with positive options. It is a frightening prospect to not be able to put a roof over your head, we really need to make this a priority for the future health of our town.


What are the biggest fiscal challenges in our municipality, and what do you envision as the best way(s) to address them? This is a difficult question to answer without first hand knowledge of what is currently on the books. However, as a citizen I suspect that keeping our infrastructure on pace with growth is a tremendous challenge; how to prioritize what projects are of the greatest benefit. Everyone will have their ‘wish list’ and keeping that balanced with real need must be difficult. Everyone wants to keep taxes low and we would certainly not want to over burden our citizens. I however believe in avoiding debt at all costs and think it is important to pay for what we need.  I am not opposed to involving the community in fundraising to facilitate projects.


What innovative projects would enhance life in this area? I believe the Alliston BIA Rurban Events have been a huge success. A big pat on the back for all involved! Things such as our first Rib Fest, the Mayors Rodeo, Potato Festival and the like all draw tourists to our area. These events offer increased exposure and revenue to local business while showcasing our lovely trio of communities. These events again offer the opportunity for families and neighbours to have fun and recreation without leaving the area. The Hospital renovations will of course be a great asset to our community and it is important to support this also.


What is your perspective on the best way to collaborate with other levels of government to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for our area? I believe we need strong, balanced voices representing our community and it’s needs. We have to be able to advocate for New Tecumseth with clarity, at times simply not taking no for an answer. This will take representatives who will go the distance and are able to present solid arguments with full knowledge in a factual yet passionate way. There will always be some give and take so we must be reasonable and realistic with our expectations.


How do you envision communicating with constituents? I imagine meeting people on the street and talking to them, I would encourage emails as they allow for time to fully understand the question and answer with full information in a reasonable amount of time.


What will you do to continue to be involved with the community should you not win? I currently volunteer at the Humane Society with small animals and would continue to do this. I have also become involved in a new program downtown Alliston to offer lunches once a week to those in need. We hope to see this expanded as required.


Laurie Mortimer

Full Name: Laurie Mortimer

Town of Residence: Alliston

Length of time in New Tecumseth: 45 years living, playing and working. It’s a great place to call home.

Primary reason you’re running: I’m seeking election in Ward 2 to make a positive difference within the Town of New Tecumseth. I’ve lived here all my life. And chose New Tecumseth as a place to raise my family.

Campaign slogan: Slogan is simple for me as I live it everyday as a Successful Real Estate Broker with Royal LePage RCR Realty. ‘Helping You Is What I Do’


What are our most important challenges facing the community? In the next 4 years New Tecumseth will be facing many challenges. Growth and Development, potable/aesthetic water for all residents. Parks and Recreation that suits all members of this community. Infrastructure and road safety for all. And let’s not forget the forever struggle of affordable property taxes and affordable home ownership. I bring a knowledge to the table that few others running in the election can share. We have one of the most affordable tax bases. I want to keep it there.


What are your priorities for change in our municipality, in the short term. What about in the long term? My future priorities for New Tecumseth include prioritizing our Hospital and assisting with its vision and growth. I care that we get Tottenham connected to the same water source as the other residents and this needs to be a priority. I’m also a believer and supporter of a Town operated facility that includes an indoor pool. I know previous councils have tried to find affordable transit within our communities that will connect us all. I believe this needs to be tabled again. The new developments and tax dollars should bring all of the projects to being accomplished.


What are the biggest fiscal challenges in our municipality, and what do you envision as the best way(s) to address them? We need more focus on new business, development opportunities bringing employment opportunities and affordable housing and growth in our tax base. In order to provide better services. With a growing tax base we can plan, and build. We can be richer community with the services we all want….New Tecumseth ranked #24 in Canada how awesome is that. But why not aim to be the best place to live, work, play raise a family and retire. That’s my vision.


What is your perspective on the best way to collaborate with other levels of government to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for our area? I am someone whose very eager, energetic and with business sense and ability to mediate and negotiate. Integrity is at my core. I have a positive attitude and am a believer in it can be done, let’s work together to make it happen.


How do you envision communicating with constituents? I’ve prided myself, in my own business over 19 years here. Of returning all questions and concerns within the hour. I’m always available. My phone is on, I’m all over social media and can always be reached. Text, call or email me, after all ‘helping you is what I do’


What will you do to continue to be involved with the community should you not win? Whether elected or not my community involvement will not change. I’m very proud of the relationships and sponsorships I have built with Community Living Association of South Simcoe, Matthews House Hospice, the Stevenson Memorial Hospital, the Gibson Centre as well as supporting the Humane Society and Local Food Banks.


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