Melancthon voters seem to have all the answers they need to mark their ballots for the Nov. 13 municipal election.
It was a poor showing at the municipality’s all-candidates debate on Oct. 10, with less than 20 residents in attendance.
And, without a single question posed by the public, candidates had little to discuss and nothing to debate.
The evening consisted of opening and closing remarks from the candidates. First up to the podium was mayoral hopeful Debbie Fawcett, the township’s current deputy mayor.
Fawcett spoke of challenges facing the next term of council with respect to finances and taxes. “It’s getting harder and harder for us to … spread the dollars around so that everyone can see some benefit … and we give them the services that they want and need.”
Fawcett addressed wind turbines, saying she supports them but only to a certain extent.
She is not in support of severances on a home farm because she sees a need to keep those lands intact. “I think that if you have a farm, keep it together, because once it’s taken apart it will never go back,” she said.
Issues at the county level, said Fawcett, should focus on waste management and finding a solution to waste diversion.
Ron Dillman, first-time mayoral candidate, told the public one of his main reasons for running is the municipality’s loss of land rights with respect to the environmental protection act, the nutrient management act, conservation regulations and other legislation governing land use.
“All those legislations have taken away your land rights, or are taking them away,” he said.
He also said the next term of council will have to be prepared to deal with municipal issues such as wind farms and Masonville Road. At the county level, Dillman said the focus should be on waste disposal.
He also said he’s in favour of alternative power sources – which will help keep taxes in line.
DC Broderick, who is acclaimed to the position of deputy mayor, said Melancthon is a “pretty well run town,” and he looks forward to getting involved in municipal and county politics after a six year absence.
“Melancthon can look forward to a good future,” he said.
The four candidates for councillor had a chance to speak as well, starting with Alan Hunter, the only challenger to three incumbents.
Hunter said while Melancthon is a vibrant and healthy township, it needs to look at projects such as windmills and gravel pits to generate more revenue and lower taxes. He also said there is a need to look at infrastructure, and suggested the township annex land around Shelburne to increase its tax base.
Attracting new business and new residents, he said, is vital for the township’s economic future – businesses mean revenue, he says.
“We must look at the future,” he said, which includes keeping the town’s infrastructure up to date.
Beverly Kumprey, a four-term councillor, said her focus will be on supporting the farming industry. “The family farm has almost become extinct,” she said.
She further noted with a $2 million budget, the township must generate revenue from sources other than taxes – which is difficult in a rural area. Windmill development and aggregate extraction – although controversial – support that, she says.
Kumprey noted that she’d like to see more input coming from residents on issues facing the next term of council. “I would like more instruction from the residents,” she said.
“I love being a politician,” she said. “I do think, over the years in Melancthon, we’ve been so fortunate.”
John Crowe, a two-term incumbent, says since he’s been on council there’s never been a deficit at the end of the year, despite provincial downloading and diminishing funds from upper tier governments.
However, he says there is still work to be done to keep taxes down and revenue up. Additionally, he says, the township should be kept abreast of the county’s research into gasification, “keeping in mind [Melancthon] already has one of the best operating landfills around – but that doesn’t mean I think burying garbage is a good idea.
“Strong leadership and continued good planning is going to be very important for the coming term,” he said.
Bill Hill, says he’s worked since 1998 to make Melancthon a better place to live. He says the township’s successes are many – no biosolids being spread on Melancthon land, the completion of the first draft of the official plan, a complete review of the municipality’s bylaws, a new fire hall in Honeywood, and the first phase of the windmill project.
However, what he’d like to work on in another term is petitioning the school board to make sure funding from the turbine project to the school board is used for schools in Shelburne, Laurel and Grand Valley. “I’m not afraid to speak out,” he says.
Most candidates noted it was unfortunate that more people didn’t attend the debate – or ask questions of the candidates – and said it was the poorest showing at a debate in Melancthon yet.
By Ashley Goodfellow
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