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Spending, development, and infrastructure in focus for municipal candidates forum

October 21, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

A recent candidates forum allowed those running in next Monday’s municipal election to voice their concerns and plans if elected, focused largely on local infrastructure, development, and spending.

The meeting was held at the Tottenham Legion on Friday, Oct. 14, and was moderated by New Tecumseth Times editor, Sam Odrowski.

One mayoral candidate, Tony Veltri attended, along with deputy mayor candidates, Stephanie MacLellan and David Ghobrial.

Ward 7 councillor candidates Joe Feiner and Peter Barbati, were in attendance as were Ward 8, councillor candidates, Andrea Jacks and Jess Prothero.

While there was some criticism from audience members regarding the lack of attendance by some candidates, it should be noted that this event was organized in less than two weeks, and some candidates already had other commitments.

Mr. Veltri is a long-time local journalist, who has covered council for three decades. He ran unsuccessfully for the position of mayor in the last election in 2018.

Mr. Veltri noted he was the only mayoral candidate in attendance. He said that his opinions over the years, which have always caused controversy, were “always on the side of the public.”

A predicted 13 per cent increase in property tax and water and sewer rate increase, are important issues, he said, as well as infrastructure and roads.

Mr. Veltri said the current council has made irresponsible decisions on development by approving development without planning for proper infrastructure.

Ms. MacLellan, current councillor for Ward 6, is running for deputy mayor.

She said she’s running a three-fold platform which includes fiscal management, road safety, and building a livable community.

Ms. MacLellan stressed the importance of communication and said she always responds to residents’ concerns. She said she always asks “difficult questions” during council meetings.

She said she wants to ensure taxpayer dollars delivered at the county level are used appropriately and provide the necessary services.

David Ghobrial is running for deputy mayor.

He is a doctor who operates a walk-in clinic in Beeton.

Mr. Ghobrial said he does not like the way the town has changed specifically in the past five years. “Uniting council” is an important aspect of being deputy mayor he said.

Mr. Ghobrial referenced accessible health care at the municipal level. He said the main issue in town is the fact that it is growing at a faster rate than can be sustained, and said while the province is pushing development, no one is being accountable for the problems that can occur with over-development.

Jess Prothero is running for councillor in Ward 8.

Mr. Prothero previously served on Council from 2003 to 2010 and is a local business owner. He said he is well-versed in council procedure.

Totally against mass development, he said the town does not have the proper infrastructure for this type of development, and if mandated by the province, the province should pay for the infrastructure.

He said the town should work with small businesses to ensure their success.

Andrea Jacks is running for councillor, Ward 8.

She was born and raised in Tottenham and said she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

During her career, she has been focused on organizational leadership and has been in a leadership director role.

Ms. Jacks said she plans to be a leader in growth for the future. She said she will bring a ‘fresh perspective’ to council.

She said she plans to bring back transparency, visibility, and connection to the community to make decisions.

Peter Barbati is running for councillor in Ward 7.

He said he is “deeply committed” to keeping the community clean and safe for all residents. He previously ran for council in 2010, 2014, and 2018.

He said he understands the need for local housing.

Mr. Barbati said the town needs to be fiscally responsible and the current budget must be addressed, and the town will be in “hot water” in the future based on forward projections and the current rate of inflation.

Joe Feiner is running for councillor, Ward 7.

Mr. Feiner is a long-time resident who operates a construction company. He has been a volunteer in several community organizations.

Mr. Feiner said he would like to bring the community together to provide a voice for residents. He would like transparency in council and where tax dollars are spent.

Mr. Feiner said he would make developers accountable for infrastructure. He said growth can’t be stopped, but as a community, “we can dictate how this growth is going to happen.”

The meeting then allowed members of the public to ask questions.

The municipal election is being held Oct. 24.


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