Sudbury mayoral debate; candidates discuss roads, taxes and working together
A mayoral debate was held at the ParkSide Centre on Durham Street in Greater Sudbury Saturday. Eight of the nine candidates participated in the event. This event was hosted by the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) and Sudbury Arts Council.
About 100 people showed up for the debate, many of them seniors, and they brought up what issues matter to them most.
One of the topics brought up was the conditions of Sudbury road and candidate and former Liberal MP Paul Lefebvre said money is continuously being invested into the roads department but the roads aren’t improving.
“What’s going on? We need to compare ourselves to North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, as well as Barrie… What are they doing? What are the measures they are taking? Are their roads better than ours? They last longer than ours. Why aren’t ours lasting as long as we believe that they should?” Lefebvre asked during the event.
Individuals in attendance seemed to agree that more has to be done to our roads sooner rather than later.
“I’d like to see some work done on the infrastructure in Sudbury. The roads are terrible and I don’t think I want to hear any more about the Kingsway,” said one resident in attendance.
Devin LeBranche, another mayoral candidate, said this is his first ever debate for political office so he is quite excited.
“The future of Sudbury I see revolves around attracting development and bringing in business. Through construction and development we can ensure everyone has an affordable place to live and enjoy Sudbury,” said LeBranche.
“I don’t believe in raising taxes more than needed.”
Other citizens at the debate say they are tired of arguments happening between council members.
“What I would like to know is how the new mayor is going to deescalate all of the in-house fighting between the councillors and make an area where they are going to work together for the people,” a member of the crowd at the debate asked.
Candidate Evelyn Dutrisac agreed that everyone needs to get along and respect needs to be shown.
“I hear often that we must all play nice in the sandbox–we teach our children that, so that’s very important for us to respect each other and to work together,” Dutrisac said during the debate.
She went on to say people's needs have to be met.
“Right now the needs of our people. We really need to understand the real needs like talking about budget and taxes. People that have trouble putting food on their table,” Dutrisac added.
Miranda Rocca-Circelli, another candidate for mayor on the ballot on Oct. 24, also stated she is advocating for the people of Sudbury.
Rocca-Cirelli said she has multiple degrees, is trilingual and she operates three businesses including a non-profit.
“Like you, I am a citizen. I deal with challenges you’re faced with and I’m here to be your voice. I am not here as a career politician looking to say things or make differences that aren’t really going to happen,” Rocca-Circelli said as part of her opening remarks.
“I am here to advocate for you and because I’m an everyday person like you, as a business owner, as a mother, it’s important that we come together and start to build that sense of community again.”
The question of whether candidates would support tax increases was also regularly brought up during the day.
“The pensioners are going to be driven out of this city if the taxes continue to go up,” said another attendee.
“I’d like to see some sort of audit done of the financial situation of the city and that a room be taken to reduce the debt that we think is around three billion dollars. We just cannot afford it.”
Mila Wong said how she feels there must ways to modernize city operations and share information.
“Coming from my vision, we will create a new Greater Sudbury. My mission is to transition and transform our city. I will modernize it with current technologies that will increase operational efficiencies because we aren’t efficient and therefore the information will be shared with the public,” Wong said as she began her remarks.
Don Gravelle, born and raid in Sudbury, explained he is running for mayor in this election to ensure the city stops spending money on consultants. Gravelle explained living in ward 2 and travelling around the city he has become passionate about ensuring all wards have a say in spending.
“I’ve really noticed is those outer wards have a desperate need for things such as fire departments, it needs to be fully staffed. Policing out there is very neglected and we just need to make sure that Sudbury moved forward,” said Gravelle during his remarks.
For the past eight years, Brian Bigger has been the Mayor of Greater Sudbury.
He said it is vital to address the homelessness and mental health and addictions challenges in the city and explained he will continue prioritizing what is best for the city.
“We need to move forward, we need to build new, we need to upgrade our facilities, our Junction East project will be zero carbon. These things do cost money but we are prioritizing what’s important for the environment, what’s important for continuing on with the Sudbury Theatre Centre,” Bigger commented.
Bob Johnston–also born and raised in Sudbury–said he wants to review upper management to see what exactly is going on behind closed doors explaining in plain terms his goal is a full audit to know exactly where the city stands.
“Truth and facts, I call it the way it is and we are in serious trouble,” Johnston stated.
“The taxpayers have the right, the taxpayers have a voice. From now on, if I get in, we’re going to be listening to the people, not the management.”
David Popescu is the ninth candidate running who was absent from this debate.
More events for mayoral candidates will take place leading up to the municipal election. Here’s a list of some other upcoming events:
- On Oct. 3, Bike Sudbury, Black Lives Matter Sudbury, Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury, Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council, Poverty and Housing Advocacy Coalition, reThink Green, Sudbury and District Labour Council and Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre will co-host a mayoral town hall on social justice and green issues beginning at 7 p.m. at Sudbury Indie Cinema.
- On Oct. 5, the Capreol Lions Club, the Capreol Royal Canadian Legion Branch 179 and the Capreol Community Action Network (CAN) together are hosting a mayoral debate at the Capreol Arena starting at 7 p.m.
- On Oct. 6, a Mayoral Candidates’ Fireside Chat will commence at 7 p.m. at Collège Boréal’s concert hall hosted by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.
More information on those running for mayor in Sudbury and their campaigns can be found on the city’s website.
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