I want to take this opportunity to share with you my thoughts regarding the entire contract fiasco at the City and my decision to file my nomination papers today.
My original intention when I first wrote to council in the beginning of July
was simply to obtain answers to my questions. After presenting to council
on Sept. 8, regarding the improprieties surrounding the hiring of Ms. Hesse,
I was hopeful that once council had reviewed the facts uncovered by our
research that the public would finally get some answers, and that council
would take the necessary steps to deal with the problems at hand.
Unfortunately, however, that has not happened. In fact, the steps they have
taken have only led me to come to the conclusion that no changes in terms of
openness, transparency and accountability will take place unless there is a
change with the people sitting around the council table. I have come to the realization that this type of change can also only occur if people have a choice at the ballot box.
Yesterday, after looking at the choices for candidates I saw that almost the
entire current council is running for office again and that there were not that many candidates coming forward to challenge them. Having seen that, I felt that it was time to put my money where my mouth is. So, after doing a lot of soul searching, and weighing the many pros and cons, I have decided to let my name stand for the position of councillor. I know that some people may now start to question my original motives however the fact is that what started out as a citizen searching for answers has turned into an election issue after all. It has been my hope that this issue would have been addressed a long time ago. However, inaction on the part of the City has allowed this matter to go unresolved.
Considering that it was my post on hacking the main frame that got this
whole thing started I thought people here had a right to know the reasons behind
my decision. I truly do hope I can count on peopleâ€™s support.
Thanks for all of your support and encouragement on this issue. I have drawn some strength from your support despite the criticism that I had directed to me from some members of council. However, the overwhelming majority of people, that I have come across in daily life, at work, or in my other avenues of daily life, have been incredibly supportive, so that helped ease me into making this decision to seek the position of councillor. Again, thanks for your support and encouragement.
I’m finding Mr. Mussallems thoughts on the issues to be well thought out, will be interesting to see how he and Mr. Scott approach the election, the debate (if we have one and I assume we will) should be a good one, as both have been mayor, both have their own ideas on what has gone on and how they would change things.
I think that it is great that you are stepping up to the plate and putting your name into the hat to become one of our municipal councillors. You are a brave woman.
As I do not know you, and am really only familiar with your position on the recent issues surrounding contracting out at City Hall, I was hoping that you may be able to share a little more about yourself.
I understand that you are a teacher. How long have you lived here?
What is your position on other important issues in our community such as:
The state of our infrastructure
The Pulp Mill/Sun Wave taxes
truck bypass route
The state of services such as:
Recreation, including playgrounds, parks and green space
the landfill and garbage pickup
Any insight on how you feel about these or any other issues would be great.
In terms of a little bit of information about me, yes I am a high school teacher. I teach at Prince Rupert Secondary School, teaching primarily humanities which is both Social Studies and English. I have been a Prince Rupert resident for the past 18 years and am proud to call this my home. Our city has gone through a lot in the time I have been here and I am hoping that, if elected, I can facilitate, with the rest of council, real changes that will make a difference to our community.
I have been doing some research into the various issues being faced by our city and these are my thoughts based on that research. However, I am always open to new ideas and am committed to fostering an environment in our city government that allows all citizens to be heard and informed on whatâ€™s going on.
Openness, Transparency and Accountability
This is a key issue that needs to be addressed in our city government. One of the main reasons I decided to run is to bring back openness, transparency, and accountability to city hall. Actions by our current council and city manager have eroded public trust in our city government due to a lack of these three key cornerstones to good governance and, if elected, I am going to ensure that these three essential elements are brought back to our city government.
The community has a big stake in the viability of City West and my initial position on this matter is that if elected, I will support Council initiating a community forum(s) to start more meaningful dialogue on the matter. I would like this to occur within the first six months, allowing residents to discuss whether the City should continue with the current option of owning and operating CityWest, consider exiting the business and selling the assets/company to a third-party to maximize its current value, or some other option that may surface through more meaningful community dialogue.
There are “pros” and “cons” to both options and my own thought at this time is that I am not sure how viable CityWest will remain in the future, given how rapidly the telecommunications industry is moving and whether such profit margins can be sustained with future competition. Yet, there are many of our friends and neighbours employed by CityWest and the potential loss of those jobs is something to take seriously too, especially in these uncertain economic times. I do strongly believe that the community deserves the opportunity to have proper dialogue on the matter and not simply be told what is happening as has occured this past few years.
My experience in other avenues has been that when people sit down and explore topics with sincerity, passion, courage, and with open minds, you will often arrive at a good solution. Transparency and collaboration/consultation is the key to good governance and I definitely
support that direction on CityWest.
The state of our infrastructure
Old, Old, Old. As a community, we should be refocusing our efforts on our core activities as a municipality and that means refocusing on our aging infrastructure. I recall watching a Council meeting sometime in the past year, and listening to Council discussing the possibility of a referendum to borrow a set amount of money to invest in our infrastructure (being the roads, bridges, water and sewer lines, etc.) I believe that this idea is definitely worth exploring, particularly as it would engage the community more directly in the matter of infrastructure reinvestment. I realize that there are some out there that will balk at the idea, saying that they already pay taxes and that their tax dollars should be used for public works.
However, with the hard times that the community has had for much of the past decade, we have seen municipal operations get reduced significantly to the point where our public works are really a band-aid solution. We need to give the good men and women in our municipal departments the resources to more effectively do their jobs.
This really ties in with policing and with community justice issues. My initial thoughts are that the City pays the contract for policing and should be able to influence the delivery of that service. That includes more enforcement during the after-hours when the vandalism tends to occur. But of course, this would require better coordination with the RCMP and I would suggest that if elected, Council sponsor a meeting between the stakeholders such as the youth workers, police and business owners to explore what can be done to alleviate the problem. I know that there are many different ideas as to how we can best deal with this problem and I look forward to hearing what these ideas are so we can address the issue properly. Some of the ideas that have been shared with me so far include citizens on patrol, as well as additional auxiliary police members.
However, before we adopt a solution I would like to hear from the various stakeholders as to their ideas. As well I would very much appreciate your feedback and those of others on htmf and in the community. I am always willing to listen to the people.
The Pulp Mill/Sun Wave taxes
This particular mess would need to be properly evaluated. I think that it is pretty obvious that SunWave is not producing and/or planning to produce. I also think that the City has known this for many many months now and perhaps the better part of two years and that it is a shame that it has taken this long for us to get to the point of asking ourselves - what next?
One idea would be to sell the property once they default on the property taxes and to ensure that the City does not enter into any future agreements to defer or waive property taxes WITHOUT SERIOUS community dialogue and perhaps community approval. We need to see that land become a net contributor to the property taxes so that the burden can be eased on the residential property tax payer.
Again, I am open to ideas from the community and other stakeholders, including businesses for ideas on how to maximize the revenue potential from the land.
Let’s face it, Prince Rupert taxpayers, both residential and commercial, do pay higher taxes than most of the rest of the province. However, unlike some of the incumbents in the previous election, I will not campaign on the false promise that your taxes will be lowered - our municipal operations and capital projects have fallen behind significantly and need immediate attention. That alone means that there will not be an immediate tax reduction from the 2008 property tax levels. However, I would definitely lobby for more effective use of our tax dollars to ensure that municipal operations are as efficient as possible. Over the years, all organizations, City Hall included, tends to develop a culture that says “this is how we always have done it here” and what this does is effectively stifle creativity and thought that leads to newer, more efficient ways of doing things. I want to support initiatives that help foster that type of “can do” attitude at City Hall.
I would like to work with the rest of Council to develop a plan to foster a gradual reduction in our property taxes over the next several years - a reduction not in absolute dollars, but one in terms of a relative reduction - meaning that the effective use of taxes improves so that any future tax increases are capped to the rate of inflation and other contractual obligations such as CUPE wages, etc. or are directed specifically for tangible projects such as infrastructure renewal and civic building improvements such as the Civic Centre and library, police buildings, etc.
If elected, I would want to do an immediate reassessment of how your dollars are being utilized by TPR. (Tourism Prince Rupert) I want to ensure that the community is indeed getting the best bang for the dollar. There are some good people serving on the board and I want to utilize their skills and experiences to ensure that TPR operates at its best. In addition, many people have suggested that it would be wise to look at coordinating the efforts of the various stakeholders involved in the development of Tourism in Prince Rupert so we can manage our resources more efficiently, and stop working at cross purposes. This seems to be the right direction to take and I would definitely be looking to move in that direction.
Truck bypass route
If elected I would support the development of the Wantage Road bypass project by the Province and the Port and continue lobbying the Ministry of Transportation and the Premiers office. The silver lining to the current economic downturn in the United States and potentially Canada is that it may reduce the traffic to the container port that comes in trucks - which I understand is already a smaller amount as the overwhelming majority of traffic to the container port comes from rail.
I am giving lots of thoughts to the various municipal operations and will, over time share my policy ideas on the following. I also would encourage those that have ideas about them to also share them with me.
Recreation, including playgrounds, parks and green space
Thank you for your reply. Your answers to my questions were clear, well thought out and I agree with many of your points.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on city services.
One more question…
If elected to council will you continue to use HTMF as a method to communicate your thoughts on various issues?
I just saw the list of candidates as reported by The Northern View. I am excited about this election. It looks like a changing of the guard is imminent. No Herb Pond, No Ken Cote and the pool isn’t watered down as it was during the last municipal election. I am interested to learn about a couple of candidates-Shellenberg and Purdy- to see what they are all about.