Reporting on CARP Mayoral Debate in Barrie: Candidates quarrel

Originally published by the Barrie Examiner on September 22nd, 2010. To go to the Barrie Examiner website please click here

The death of leadership, and taxes, were hot topics at Tuesd ay’s all-candidates mayors debate in Barrie.

Held at the Steckley-Gooderham Funeral Home on Worsley Street, it involved Mayor Dave Aspden, current Couns. Mike Ramsay and Jeff Lehman, former Barrie-area MPP Joe Tascona, local businessmen Irtaza (Harry) Ahmed and Carl Hauck, and former mayor (2003-2006) Rob Hamilton.

Hosted by the Barrie Chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), the debate featured discussion about affordable seniors housing, services for seniors and how to be an effective mayor.

But the questions kept coming back to taxes and leadership, or the lack of it.

“Our mayor needs to set the moral tone,” Ramsay said, “to restore accountability to city hall and the mayor’s office.”

“It has been a long time since we had a mayor who is a consensus builder, who leads the team,” Lehman said.

“It is not about you (the mayor).”

“You have to be able to gather a team and you have to be able to deliver,” Hamilton said. “We got a lot done in the 03-06 council. I don’t know what there was not to like. Maybe it was just me.”

“Politics in Barrie is blood sport,” said Aspden, who beat Hamilton in 2006.

“This is not the time to take a chance on the previous administration. You rejected it,” said Tascona, “and I don’t think you are happy with the current one.”

“I want to be the laison between the people and council,” said Hauck. “I do not want to be called a politician.”

Lehman cited former mayor Willard Kinzie, who used to knock on the doors of Toronto business and tell them they needed to be in Barrie, on the value of leadership.

“We need a mayor who will be a champion of the people,” Lehman said. “(Politicians) make promises and won’t tell you how to achieve them, how you are going to achieve them.

“It’s not good enough to just be against things anymore.”

Ramsay, a veteran councillor of 13 years, said the next mayor needs to look after public interests — not private ones.

“We need to elect a mayor and council who will care,” he said. “We need a mayor who will not simply do the bidding of bureaucrats. The office of mayor is not for needless profit or gain.”

Tascona, who is also a former city councillor, said the next mayor needs to be able to show leadership.

“I have the experience to run the city and work with other levels of government,” Tascona said, noting he would freeze taxes. “There is a lot of wasteful spending at city hall and we have to make sure we stop that.”

Hamilton said he has spent the last eight months knocking on 4,000 Barrie doors and attending more than 100 community meetings and events. He says the city needs new leadership.

“During the last four years the city has gone from crisis to crisis, been divided and had no vision,” he said. “I can assemble a team and gets things done.”