By Ron Giofu
A need for greater transparency, accountability and fixing the town’s finances are among the top priority for Aldo DiCarlo.
DiCarlo is running for mayor, having filed his nomination papers last week. He said he has always had an interest in politics and, after encouragement from friends and family, decided to run for the town’s top political job.
Having spent 11 years as a union president at the University of Windsor, where he works as a physics laboratory co-ordinator, and two terms (six years) on the university’s board of governors gives what DiCarlo believes is significant experience. He noted his work on the board of governors has given him a background in finance, budgeting, pensions, labour relations, “and just about everything you would have in a public service environment,” adding the institution has a $200 million budget.
“It was a very broad, diverse role.”
DiCarlo said he dealt with many of the same issues as union president and is currently a part-time facilitator with CUPE national, a role which he said wouldn’t interfere with his mayoral bid.
His roles on the university’s board of governors as well as his union work are comparable to council, he believed.
“They all operate very much the same but under more specific issues related to their fields,” he said.
The town’s financial issues are a hot topic for many, he noted, and it is for him as well.
“Everyone’s big issues is town finances,” said DiCarlo. “As far as finances go, I’ve got a pretty strong background.”
DiCarlo believes that, “top to bottom, I think I have what the town is looking for in a mayor. I’m told I’m a pretty good people person too. I’m not just a number cruncher.”
Getting Amherstburg into a “much better financial position” is a top goal for DiCarlo. He said the financial picture is clearer than it was six months or one year ago and he admits it is a tougher time than usual to try for the mayor’s job.
“This is probably a scary time to be taking over the reins,” said DiCarlo. “Now, a lot of hard decisions are going to have to be made.”
He added: “Quite clearly, we spent more money than we had.”
Two other big priorities are transparency and accountability, with DiCarlo noting that while he doesn’t want to be critical of the current council, it appears to him they “missed the boat” on what the residents want.
“I think town hall meetings could be much more open,” he believes.
DiCarlo stated he has chaired large meetings and said while they can’t become a free-for-all, there still could be opportunity for greater input. If certain items such as issues from residents can’t be accommodated during a regular session of council, he is open to town hall meetings and would want one early in his term, if elected.
“I’m big on involving as many people as possible,” said
Citizens need to have a greater voice, he maintained, and while acknowledging that not everyone is going to be pleased with decisions, a majority opinion should be garnered and the town could move forward. He added that even councillors have had their ideas voted down during this term of council.
“My position would be to share as much information as possible,” said DiCarlo.
Although stating he has held in-camera meetings at his previous posts, DiCarlo believes there is more information the public should be privy to and said the only way he would go in-camera is if he had legal advice telling him there was no choice.
“Why aren’t we discussing everything openly?” he said.
When decisions were made in his roles as a member of the board of governors or as union president, he made them in the best interest of all, he said, and plans carrying that over to town council, if elected.
“In any decisions being made, I’ll make them for the people who elected me as mayor,” he pledged.
At the University of Windsor, DiCarlo said he works for the faculty and the students because his money is earned through tuition fees and government funds.
“As mayor, I would operate the exact same way,” he said. “I work for you, you don’t work for me.”
DiCarlo said he doesn’t want to micromanage, but said it is council’s role to oversee administration.
“If people are telling me something is wrong, I will address it. Period,” he said.
He also wants to find a way to further promote the town for everything it has.
“We have a lot of small town charm,” said DiCarlo. “Why isn’t (the town) better known?”