The Moose Jaw Express/MooseJawToday.com sent out a questionnaire to each of the candidates running to be the next mayor of Moose Jaw. We will be publishing these results in order they were received.
The mayoral byelection is set for Wednesday, Nov. 3.
What would be your top priority as mayor?
My top priority is to revitalize River Street and enhance tourism by doing so. We built Mosaic Place to take advantage of our rich downtown heritage and then we allowed a developer to tear River Street down without forfeiting a very large bond, which should have been guaranteed.
To quote Joni Mitchell, “We paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” We now have an opportunity to develop this site and create something notorious!
What would you like to accomplish or see happen in your first 100 days?
The first thing on my and council's plate is the budget for 2022, which requires diligence from the mayor, council and administration. In order to tackle this enormous annual task, we have to approach it as a team. As the team leader, it is my responsibility to focus the group on how best to spend the taxpayer's money in the coming year.
As I will be joining an existing council that has already had one year together, I will have to be a quick study in terms of catching up and learning what they have already accomplished, in terms of establishing the spending priorities for the coming year for both the capital and operating budgets.
During and after the budget process, I want to meet both individually and as a group with all of the councillors and senior administrators to gather their input. As I have said in my slogan, “Leadership, Vision, Teamwork.” I will do my best to provide leadership, I will facilitate some sessions with the team to establish a vision for the city that the majority of council supports, and then we need to come together as a team to make that vision a reality.
How can city council be more transparent in its decision making?
As mayor I will be open, honest and transparent and I expect the council to be the same. Unless it is absolutely necessary to go in-camera, our council and executive committee meetings will be open to the public. I will take direction from the city clerk in terms of what agenda items will require in-camera meetings and we will schedule meetings accordingly.
I am pleased that council now has the citizen presentations to council at the beginning of the meeting as opposed to the end, how it used to be. More people will be watching earlier in the meeting, which helps with openness and accountability.
In June 2021, I was a co-presenter at council and it was held in-camera. The subject matter was related to the operation of the board of revision, an area of interest to many taxpayers. That will not happen on my watch.
What do you think about city council spending more on projects than it budgeted for this year?
The City of Moose Jaw is in pretty good shape financially compared to other cities, due in part, to the smart investments made over the years and to controlling spending. Occasionally a project is urgent and necessary, or perhaps spending has to take place to take advantage of federal or provincial grants.
I am not sure which projects you are referring to but maximizing partnerships with the senior levels of government is smart, as is doing some projects when the time is right as opposed to waiting until you originally had it in the budget. It all depends on the circumstances.
What do you think about council using surplus account — such as the accumulated account — to pay for unexpected expenses?
Emergencies occur, and when they do, it is fortunate that the City of Moose Jaw has funds in the accumulated account that can save the day.
Do you think that community beautification initiatives are necessary and should be spent out of surplus funds?
I have always been an advocate for community beautification and it works best when the citizens and the city partner together to make it happen.
The city can only do so much and we depend on property owners, industrial and commercial, businesses and residents to take care of their properties and the city-owned land around them. So yes, beautification initiatives are necessary, and if we as a city have some surplus funds, why not go ahead and use those funds to beautify our city.
I like to live in a clean, well kept, beautiful city and I believe most of our citizens feel the same. Our tourism income is directly related to our community beautification. Build it and they will come. Make it beautiful and they will come.
Your job is to represent everyone in the city. How do you plan to represent people who do not vote for you?
If I am elected mayor I will have no idea who voted in the election or who they voted for. I will do my best to represent the interests of all the people of Moose Jaw. I plan to think about what our people want when making decisions on their behalf, and because I am out in the community, I will have an opportunity to listen to what our people have to say.
During this campaign, people have not been shy to tell me their opinions or ask me mine. I am well known in the community and I expect to be the same person as the mayor that I am now: interested, engaged, active and passionate about Moose Jaw.
What issue doesn’t receive enough attention in Moose Jaw?
Crystal meth use, vandalism, fires, break-ins. People have told me they are afraid to walk in Crescent Park and downtown, especially after dark. I want more police presence, walking patrols, bike patrols and perhaps 24-hour commissionaire surveillance within Crescent Park.
We need to clean up our streets and our parks. This is a complex problem, which I plan to learn more about to understand so I can help come up with practical solutions.
What issue receives too much attention?
I cannot think of an issue that receives too much attention. It seems to me, if it's an issue, it deserves some attention and scrutiny.
What informs your political stance?
My parents discussed politics at the kitchen table on a regular basis and that is where I originally got interested in local politics. My mother, Marion Tolley, served as a city councillor as I did. I believe my mother and I are the only mother-son that served on Moose Jaw city council.
My passion is our City of Moose Jaw. I'm somewhat interested in provincial and federal issues, but to me, local government has the most significant impact on our lives and perhaps it is where we can have the most effectiveness in making positive changes. Hometown passion, leadership in action. I feel if we put together a strong local council, we can get things done and see the results of our work.
What is something people don’t know about you?
I was the executive director of the Saskatchewan Air Show in 2004-05 and I attended the International Council of Air Shows along with the Snowbirds in Dallas and Las Vegas.
I have travelled extensively throughout Canada, the United States and 16 other countries. I worked as the national team head coach for four national teams (men’s, women’s, U20 Male, U18 Male) for the Turkish Ice Hockey Federation in 2006-07. In that role I attended four IIHF World Hockey Championships as the head coach: Croatia, Romania, Turkey, China.
In 2010-11 I was the country manager, Visa Services, United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) in Hanoi, Vietnam. After training in London, U.K., and in Bangkok, Thailand I supervised the UKBA visa centres in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. After experiencing life in different parts of the world I realized that I love Moose Jaw and this is where I want to be and I came home!