By Ron Giofu
There is now a mayor’s race as Councillor John Sutton has announced he is running for the position.
“It’s something that I’ve been mulling over the last couple of years,” said Sutton, adding he was “inundated” with requests to run.
Sutton said they need leadership to get the town through the financial challenges.
“We’ve got to engage the larger community in this,” he said.
Sutton, who was first elected to council in 2006, stated as the town looks to grow it must also deal “head on” with the financial challenges.
“It is well documented that reserves have been spent and budgets changed without council knowledge or approval,” said Sutton. “Consequently, we need leadership to engage the community in meeting our fiscal challenges and restoring our image as a vibrant, historic, affordable, accessible and fun place in which to live and invest. Quite frankly, we need to put politics aside and put Amherstburg first!”
Sutton said his plan would be to go through every department and work with the town’s unionized workforce to find the most cost effective ways of delivering services. Savings could be used to reduce debt or replenish reserves, he stated.
“Council is going to have to adopt a plan and stick to that plan,” he said. “We will meet our fiscal challenges by developing and implementing plans that replenish our reserves and effectively manage our debt.”
He pledged, “the financial information delivered to council and the community alike will be completely transparent and readily ‘verifiable.’”
Replenishing reserves and managing debt will be a “pillar” of Sutton’s campaign with another being to work with the community, council and administration in a strategic planning process.
“We will then deliver budgets that support our plan and provide the high level of service our town expects and deserves. To monitor our progress, we will report on our strategic plan in an annual community report card,” he said.
A third pillar of his campaign will be to work with business leaders to help advise council and administration on the most effective ways to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.
Sutton also aims to promote the town as active and environmentally friendly.
“We will continue our work with ERCA to protect the Big Creek Watershed, respond to the demands of climate change on our infrastructure, and continue our reforestation efforts. At the same time, we will fulfill our commitment to the County Wide Active Transportation system and work to make our town even more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. These plans must include a solution to the long awaited Texas Road reconstruction project.”
Texas Road had been approved last year but had to be shelved when the town’s financial issues came to light.
Sutton said he would establish a Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council to allow young people to have input in town government and to recognize the contributions of youth in the community.
“At the end of the day, we’ve had enough negativity,” he said. “For every challenge we have, let’s turn it into opportunity, put our best foot forward so we are in the paper for all the right reasons.”
While stating he has learned a lot from Mayor Wayne Hurst, he said he is a consensus builder with his own leadership style.
“Anyone who thinks I’m a clone of the current mayor doesn’t know me very well,” said Sutton.
Sutton said most people “are confident, courageous, generous and persevering” and “those are the people whom I would be honored and privileged to represent and serve as mayor of our great town, and those are the people whose support I seek in this endeavor.”
Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland is also running for mayor. Sutherland announced his intentions in January.