1) What do you think our City has successfully done the past 5 years?
Attracting new industrial/commercial businesses and residential home building.
2) What do you think is our biggest challenge in the next 5?
Catching up on our rapid growth and lost time (COVID) regarding city services and planning such as infrastructure, water, waste, emergency services, and other important services.
3) What are your biggest strengths as a candidate?
I’m a Relationship Builder
I never underestimate the value of building relationships with each other, with staff, and with the greater community. The investment of time and energy on the front end will save emotional angst on the back end. Disrespect, contempt, and personal attacks create unhealthy relationships that undermine sound governance. If one wishes another to fail, then everyone fails. Good relationships and sound policy serve your community; spite or pandering seldom does.
I’m a Team Player
Being an effective team player means being able to advocate for one’s position while remaining curious and open minded about the position of others. It also means working constructively with others without dominating the flow of information or ideas. My role as a councillor is to debate and vote as an individual but then respect and support the decision of the majority. I can set aside personal interests and influences for the common good.
I am Emotionally Mature
I will be required to make decisions in the best interests of the community – despite opposition – and can accept withstand criticism. Being emotionally mature means staying engaged, welcoming dissent, and not over-reacting to it. At times, it may mean coping with the intense emotions of others.
I am Approachable
Leadership means listening carefully to others with a desire to understand concerns, ideas, and perspectives. Elected officials are expected to be accessible to the community through meetings and events, and by phone and email. I am committed to clear, diverse, and regular communication with the community.
I am a Critical Thinker
Today’s problems often come from yesterday’s solutions. I always consider how to best limit shifting a problem into the future by maintaining a long-term perspective and considering the potential impact of decisions.
I am Prepared
I never underestimate the mental preparation required to make decisions about long-term sustainability. It is easy to believe that being an elected official means attending a few meetings a month; but effective elected officials are committed to doing their homework. I will come prepared to participate in discussions by researching and reading background materials prior to attending meetings, sessions, committees, etc.
I have Financial Acumen
I never simply glaze over the budgeting process…I dig in to become as fluent / literate as possible with financials. Decision makers need to understand basic financial information and be able to evaluate budgets and financial statements. If they do not, then they should be willing to seek training to improve their skills. I have experience and ability comprehend the long-term budget consequences of financial proposals and decisions.
4) What will make you more successful than others at addressing the issues our downtown faces?
Prior to moving to Woodstock ten years ago, I was a business owner in Downtown Cambridge and a member of the BIA Board. During that time, we were just starting a downtown revitalisation project which included street scaping, zoning changes, residential intensification, and attracting investment and development for the long term. Today, Downtown Cambridge is a success and thriving!
5) What would your 3 biggest priorities be as a councillor?
Wow! So hard to pick just three…
1. City Services & Capabilities.
Woodstock has grown– we need to catch up. Our city workers need more equipment, and perhaps staff, to help keep up with expanded geographical areas.
Our Emergency Services are understaffed. Our city is using ratios of responders-to-residents based on population numbers that are outdated. As someone who studied and served in the emergency response field, there are also safety protocols to be followed to ensure the safety of responders and to respond to emergencies within target times (medical breathing emergencies, for example, should be between 4-6 minutes). We also need to look at our city’s physical expansion when considering our emergency response capabilities. After all, wouldn’t you want help to arrive as quickly as possible if you, or a loved one, stopped breathing?
Speaking of physical expansion, our Public Works and Roads departments need help too! The city has expanded but we still have the same number of snowplows, putting stress on our dedicated city workers to clear and salt/sand the roads. Well, those workers matter too and so does their mental health and well-being! As a city, we need to have the health, safety, and well-being of our workers front and centre.
Our community is also grossly behind the current and upcoming Accessibility needs and requirements of our residents, businesses, city-run facilities, and with compliance to the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) itself. This includes physical access to these areas and services, public transportation, and we currently do not provide an inclusive community for those who need accommodation.
We NEED better Waste Collection! It’s time to catch up with other municipalities. We need weekly recycling collection and to introduce the Green Bin program for organics and biodegradables. Now, I understand such things cost money, so let’s pilot a program with an educational / informational campaign to help residents maximize the opportunity and make it as effective and efficient as possible. At some point we will see a tangible reducing in landfill waste and we could possibly go to bi-weekly garbage collection. It’s time to stop saying we can’t, and to start saying we will!
2. Investment & Development
Let’s invest our resources wisely, in consultation with residents and business owners, to make Woodstock a Destination hotspot. We must be prepared for future growth, development, and cease opportunities for the good of our community.
So many residents are in desperate need of Affordable Housing. Let’s make sure future zoning and planning includes all walks of life so we can help ensure people and families can not only exist, but so they can live!
Woodstock should be a hub for Medical Services. We are in the heart of Oxford County after all! Let’s continue to recruit and attract doctors, specialists, and other much-needed medical services. Heck, why not attract a college or university to have a state-of-the-art training and education facility right here in the friendly city?
Our Downtown Core needs LOTS of attention. The current draft plans to re-scape the physical aspects look good BUT looks aren’t everything. As a city we need to consider all options to help improve and maintain a safe and clean downtown core. This includes re-zoning certain things like moving the Meth Clinic off the main road, as well as other services that attract persons that are causing fear, damage, and negatively impacting the downtown businesses and residents. I care about all people; however, there is a way to still care for them AND meet the needs and goals we all share for our city’s centre!
Also…empty buildings and lots in the downtown core only devalue the neighboring properties and are an eye sore. They run-down and unmaintained buildings also pose safety risks. It’s time to require such property owners to pay increased taxes annually to encourage them to invest in their properties and help our downtown look beautiful!
3. Authentic Leadership
The best Leaders take responsibility, whether good or bad. We are all human and will make mistakes, but effective leaders own improvement opportunities and are accountable for them.
I believe Honesty is the best policy. This is true for personal life, business and professional, and especially for persons in public office! Sometimes the truth doesn’t paint the best picture, and it’s difficult to embrace; however, it’s honesty should not be optional. Elected officials are entrusted by the public to uphold the truth and to conduct themselves honestly. I can’t stand watching politicians in sessions skirt questions with non-answers, spew jargon, and often dismiss meaningful issues that matter to people.
I also believe leaders must be Authentic – being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character. We need to trust what elected officials say is real, and true. In my personal and professional life, I wear my heart on my sleeve and always try to be authentic in my words and in my actions.
Leaders are also Accountable. They must do their very best to stay above the line (take ownership) when mistakes are made, or things don’t go according to plan. A common pitfall or trap for people is to deflect, deny, blame, and fall below the line. This is where we all struggle, at least to some degree. Leaders share in successes, but they must also be willingly accountable for mistakes and improvement opportunities.
6) How important is affordable housing to you as a candidate and what do you believe the role of a City Councillor is at addressing it? Any concrete ideas?
That’s mentioned above in my top three and is super important! I have three kids who will not afford their own place (own or rent) in just a handful of years.
Affordable housing is a broad term and includes housing provided by the private, public and not-for-profit sectors as well as all forms of housing tenure (i.e. rental, ownership, and cooperative ownership). It also includes temporary as well as permanent housing.
In other words, the term “affordable housing” can refer to any part of the housing continuum from temporary emergency shelters through transition housing, supportive housing, subsidized housing, market rental housing or market homeownership.
I believe City Councillors must have this top-of-mind when revieing all plans and permits for development.
Here’s an idea…what if a portion of every rent payment be considered an “investment” in the property (kind of like shareholder appreciation rights). Before the property owner can sell, they must convert the tenants’ investments into ownership shares. Then the tenants would receive a percentage of the sales price. Such an idea would be heavily debated and weighed, but could help more people become homeowners.
7) Do you see a role for collaboration between municipal council and school board trustees? If yes, in what capacity?If no, why not?
Yes, absolutely! Our city has grown in population with many, many more kids who are either going to Central Public with a bunch more portables added, or even up to Hickson. City Council and the School Board should absolutely be collaborating for current and sure needs of community and education of our children.
8) Anything else you would like to tell me/my followers about you?
We are the HUB of Oxford County and perfectly positioned at the 401/403 junction – Woodstock is the BEST community to Live, Work, Eat, Shop, and Play!
I promise to serve the residents of Woodstock with diligence, authenticity, passion, and to be an advocate for all persons who call our city home.