About 200 people attend all-candidates meeting
By Liz Dadson
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Getting ready for the event to start, are candidates Randy Roppel (L), Gordon Campbell, Alex Eveleigh and Jacqueline Faubert, at the all-candidates meeting, hosted by the Kincardine and District Chamber of Commerce, Monday night, in the Kincardine Hall at the Davidson Centre, Kincardine
Councillor-at-large candidates Jacqueline Faubert (L), Laura Haight, Doug Peebles, Christina Roppel-Wahi and Andrew White
Ward 1 councillor candidates Richard Court (L), Mike Leggett, Candy Hewitt and Maureen Couture
Councillor-at-large candidates Alex Eveleigh, Jacqueline Faubert, Laura Haight and Doug Peebles
Candidates Candy Hewitt (L), Maureen Couture and Jutta Splettstoesser
About 200 people gathered in the Kincardine Hall at the Davidson Centre, Kincardine, Monday night, for the all-candidates meeting, hosted by the Kincardine and District Chamber of Commerce.
Seventeen of the 19 candidates were present, with mayoral candidate Ken Knight unofficially withdrawing due to illness. The other absentee was councillor-at-large candidate Adam Cherry.
All nine positions on council are being contested, with incumbent deputy mayor Anne Eadie running against former councillor Marsha Leggett for mayor.In her opening comments, Eadie said she is a life-long resident of Bruce County and now lives in Kincardine. After one term as deputy mayor, and having served seven years on Huron-Kinloss council, she has the time, the experience and the leadership skills to serve as mayor of Kincardine.
"I have lived on a farm and in a residential neighbourhood," she said, "so I believe I can bring a balanced viewpoint to the Municipality of Kincardine and the County of Bruce."
Referring to the natural gas project, Eadie emphasized that nothing has been decided on that issue.
If elected mayor, I can assure you that natural gas will not be coming to this area without provincial or private funding," she said. "The cost of this project will not come from the tax base, other than our one-third share (with Huron-Kinloss and Arran-Elderslie for the business option report)
She said she has a record of leadership, fiscal responsibility and accountability on council, and looks forward to continuing that for the next four years.
Leggett has lived in the community for 50 years, and said this past council has been a case of "the blind leading the blind."
She chastised council's support of the Penetangore Regional Economic Development Corporation (PREDC) and its purported development projects, such as the medical marijuana plant at the Bruce Energy Centre, and the Marriott Hotel.
And she took council to task for trying to sell Bruce Telecom, with the money to be used for a natural gas pipeline into the municipality.
Running for councillor at large, are former councillor Gordon Campbell, newcomer Alex Eveleigh, incumbent Ward 1 councillor Jacqueline Faubert, former deputy mayor Laura Haight, and newcomers Doug Peebles, Christina Roppel-Wahi and Andrew White.
Campbell lives on the Northline and served two terms as Ward 2 councillor.
"I'm disappointed with what's happened to the telephone company (Bruce Telecom)," he said, "and council has spent thousands of tax dollars on engineers, consultants and lawyers.
"I hope a new council can bring us together and make some changes for the better."
Eveleigh lives outside of Tiverton with his wife, Gail Roppel. His goal is to engage the public and make this community a great place to live.
"I'm disheartened with politicians at all levels of government," he said. "We need people who are open and honest. As a councillor, I will research the issues and make informed decisions."
Faubert urged a "Back to the Basics" approach and a focus on efficiency in the delivery of services, as well as improved public relations in the municipality.
"We need to return to fairness, openness and accountability on council," she said. "I offer confidence and experience, and I'm a proud member of this community."
Haight lives on the south side of Kincardine and she and her husband, Ken Corbett, have two adult sons. A community-minded person, she chaired the 2008 Kincardine Reunion, is chairperson of Doors Open Kincardine, and is a member of the Paddy Walker Heritage Society and the Kincardine Legion.
"Open engagement with constituents is important," she said. "It's all about process.
"When I heard Kincardine sold the BMTS (Bruce Telecom), I was asked what had happened and I had no idea because there was no information out there," she said. "This was a major decision that affected everyone.
"I offer effective, experienced representation for all of Kincardine."
Peebles said his vision of Kincardine council is a group that is open and approachable - a government that listens to residents with respect. "That's why I'm running for council."
A retired Bruce Power control technician, he is also a long-serving director on the Bruce County board of the National Farmers' Union.
Roppel-Wahi was born and raised in Bruce Township and now lives in Kincardine. She empathizes with young families and hopes to bring a different perspective to the council table.
With 14 years of customer service experience, she wants to better serve the residents of Kincardine, and said council has to balance the needs of all residents in the municipality - the youth, the adults and the elderly.
White said he also wants to bring a new and different perspective to the council table.
Originally from Kincardine Township, he and his wife, Heather, operate Queen Street Veterinary Services, which has 10 employees; and they are raising their family in Kincardine.
"With land on the border of a wind farm, we had to make the difficult decision to leave our farm and move to the lakeshore," he said. "Our community has to be place of growth and prosperity, as well as a place for youth and young families."
WARD 1 COUNCILLOR
Running for Ward 1 councillor, are newcomer Richard Court, incumbent councillor-at-large Maureen Couture, incumbent Ward 2 councillor Candy Hewitt, and incumbent Ward 1 councillor Mike Leggett.
Court moved to Kincardine six years ago to work for Kincardine Cable (now Rogers).
His goal as a councillor is to bring council back to its former glory and to rebuild public trust. He also wants to see development at the Kincardine Business Park at Highways 21 and 9 to help create jobs in the area.
Couture said she brings effective and focused representation to the council table, and sound fiscal responsibility.
"I have served on council from 2003-06 and 2010-14," she said. "I bring extensive experience from my work on committees, as well as policy chair for building and planning."
A resident of Kincardine for 34 years, she cares deeply about this municipality and its continued prosperity. And she said the major challenge for council is declining revenues that directly impact the budget.
Hewitt said it's been four years since she asked for the public's support to implement change in the Municipality of Kincardine.
She stands for: financial accountability, building a sustainable family- and business-oriented municipality, balanced planning, and effective decision-making.
Mike Leggett said that he and his wife, Brooke, were born and raised in Kincardine and are now raising their two sons here. He runs a small landscaping business and is a Kincardine firefighter.
"For the past eight years, I have represented you in Ward 1," he said. "My goals are to advocate economic development in the Bruce Energy Centre and at the Kincardine Business Park at Highways 9 and 21."
WARD 2 COUNCILLOR
Running for Ward 2 councillor, are newcomers Linda McKee and Jutta Splettstoesser.
McKee has lived in Kincardine for 22 years and her husband, Kevin, is the president of HALT (Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeshore Turbines). She is an IT technician at Bruce Power, and has volunteered with 4-H.
Mayoral candidates Anne Eadie (L) and Marsha Leggett get ready to speak at the all-candidates meeting, Monday night at the Davidson Centre
Ward 2 councillor candidates Jutta Splettstoesser (L) and Linda McKee
Ward 3 councillor candidates Shelagh McFarlane (L) and Randy Roppel
"I believe in the importance of a strong and vibrant agricultural and rural community," she said. "I would also like to see an external audit for maximum savings internally before we increase taxes in this municipality."
Splettstoesser and her husband, Ralph, have lived in Kincardine for 20 years, and have four children. They live on a farm on the Southline, south of Bervie.
She stands for responsible spending, no tax increases in the near future, open and honest and sensible decision-making, and ensuring that all voices are heard at the council table.
WARD 3 COUNCILLOR
Running for Ward 3 councillor, are newcomer Shelagh McFarlane and incumbent Randy Roppel.
McFarlane said this is not the Kincardine she moved to 10 years ago.
She criticized the current council for secret meetings about Ontario Power Generation (OPG)'s proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste. And for poor treatment of the wind turbine issue, and the sale of Bruce Telecom.
"It's time to pull together and fix the problems," she said. "It's time to be fiscally responsible, not just talk about it."
Roppel said decisions about the sale of Bruce Telecom, and a natural gas pipeline have put a strain on the public's trust of council.
"Regarding the sale of Bruce Telecom, there was a total lack of transparency and information to make a decision on that," he said. "Due diligence was not done. As for the natural gas issue, the public is asking for pertinent information and those requests are not being satisfied. In fact, there is a push for a referendum on the issue."
During a lengthy question-and-answer period, Patti Hutton asked the candidates if they would re-open the Armow Wind financial agreement and allow public input on it.
Court, Mike Leggett, Hewitt, Couture, Splettstoesser and Eadie said no, while McKee, McFarlane, Roppel, Campbell, Eveleigh, Faubert, Peebles, Roppel-Wahi, White, and Marsha Leggett said yes. Haight said she required more information before making such a decision.
A question about the funding of PREDC drew a lot of reaction from the candidates, with the majority not in favour of continuing to provide funds to that corporation.
When asked about a return to the committee structure, most of the candidates were in favour, while Couture and Eadie said this would have to be a decision of the sitting council.
A question was raised about what service each candidate would eliminate in order to balance the budget.
Marsha Leggett said she would sell the Kincardine Arts Centre building.
Eadie said this would have to be a decision of council.
"This is not a fair question," said Roppel-Wahi. "I would need to see the numbers and financial statements before making a decision like this."
Some agreed that PREDC would have to go, while others said this would have to be discussed at budget time.
Other questions ranged from landfill site hours to fixing up Tiny Tot Park (Macpherson Park), as well as Ontario Ombudsman municipal oversight, and municipal reserves.
Candidates then gave their closing statements before the meeting ended.
The meeting was capably chaired by Linda Bowers, with assistance from the chamber, as well as Grades 7 and 8 students from Huron Heights Public School and Ripley-Huron Community School.
© Liz Dadson
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Friday, September 26, 2014